September 2013: National Menopause Awareness Month
I can’t believe another year has come and gone, and here we are again, recognizing September as “National Menopause Awareness Month.”
As I’ve often said in jest (though not really), it’s highly unlikely that most women are “unaware” they are going through menopause; such that we need to designate an entire month to raise awareness.
Because the women I hang around with? They are very aware.
All jesting aside, I actually think anytime we bring attention to women’s health issues, it is a good thing. A very good thing. Especially for women going through menopause. My personal hope is that in the coming years, by increasing awareness of menopause and how it affects women, we can also make some inroads into how the medical community actually views menopause, and how it subsequently helps women manage their symptoms.
As it is now, menopause is viewed as a medicalized condition – as are many natural body functions – in a Western, biomedicine approach to health, which focuses entirely on the physical body. Menopause symptoms are viewed as manifestations of a “disease state” which should then be treated with medicine and drugs.
This view is not a modern phenomenon, however. It is a view which has been developing and evolving for well over a hundred years. Right around the time pharmaceutical companies developed the “cure” for menopause, when they first began to market synthetic estrogen.
But, I digress.
As more alternative therapies and approaches to health and healing (yoga, acupuncture, herbs, for example) are introduced into Western medicine, the medical community is also becoming more receptive to differing views and definitions of what menopause actually is.
With that, people like me can sow different seeds of thought into fertile ground, and viola! A new crop of definitions, and hopefully, new responses to women who are seeking help for their menopause symptoms.
I feel certain we probably won’t see the fruit of that seed before next year. So until we do, next year, like this year, I’ll tip my hat in gratitude that we are at least making a concerted effort toward change by recognizing September as “National Menopause Awareness Month.”
Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women's health and a women's freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.