Did you know that medical research is primarily male dominated with more male research participants and a higher percentage of male researchers than female researchers? As a result, much information is gathered from male participants and then extrapolated for the female.
This process leaves gaps in the research as males and females do not always have the same experiences with diseases. It is becomes more of a gap when there is a biological life stage that affects only women, such as perimenopause and menopause.
Many times, society and the medical profession sees menopause as a disease that women must manage. This can cause tension in the workplace and at home as well as uncomfortableness when discussing symptoms with family or a health care provider.
However, menopause is a natural process that all women go through and thus should not be stigmatized.
In addition to a lack of understanding in the medical field, society has a stigma against perimenopause and menopause. You may have noticed how the media rarely shows older women as sexy and vibrant; instead, the older woman is used to promote products for incontinence, medications, and home health care systems. Researchers have noted that women going through menopause may experience feelings of shame and many health care providers miss the signs of women who may be in need of extra support.
Unfortunately, women who feel as though they have little to no support become more susceptible to depression and feelings of isolation.
The menopausal transition can be a time of stress for many women. Women who started having children in her late 20s or 30s are entering perimenopause as her children are entering their teenage years. Women who either had children younger or who never had children are entering perimenopause at a time when there may be shifts in career and family dynamics.
Additionally, women entering the workforce not only face the same stressors as men, they also face unique stressors of balancing expectations of work and home life. The societal division of labor, both paid and unpaid, into “men’s” jobs and “women’s” jobs has led to systematic discrimination in training and promotion. As a result, there is unequal pay with women of child bearing age generally being out of the workforce and thus not receiving raises and promotions.
However, with more women entering the workforce, jobs that were considered traditionally “female” or traditionally “male” are becoming more integrated. At the same time, the workplace culture and societal expectations are not integrating as quickly. As a result, working women tend to continue with the bulk of the home and childcare duties, which can lead to less job satisfaction or choosing careers that allow her more flexibility for the family. This can lead to fewer women in management and leadership positions, lower salaries, and lower sense of self-work and self-efficacy.
What does this all mean?
In a nutshell, it means women need to find a way to help manage stress. This may be taking time for a bubble bath with soft music and a glass of wine, a weekly date night with the spouse, a weekly meeting with other women, exercise and nutrition, etc.
Every person is unique in what helps her relax and unwind, and it is important to find what is the best combination for you.
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