Authors: Mala Thayumanavan
Background: Womanhood is the period in a female’s life after she has transitioned through childhood and adolescence. They undergo lot of changes in their life cycle due to the influence of sex hormones. Menopause is an important change in women’s midlife that all women experience a host of physical and emotional changes which commonly starts from about the age of forty-five. After a full year without a period women can say that, they have been through menopause and post menopause follows menopause. In everyday parlance, however the word “menopause” is usually not used to refer to one day, but to the whole of the menopause transition years. This span of time is also referred to as the climacteric and most recently it is known as “perimenopause” (literally meaning “around menopause”). The word menopause is also often used in popular parlance to mean all the years of post-menopause (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2009).
Menopause is a universal phenomenon, there is a considerable variation among women regarding the age of menopause. The onset of menopause usually begins between the age of 45-55 with a worldwide average age of 51 and women from Western countries having a higher menopausal age compared to women from other parts of the world. The range of menopausal age seen in Indian women varies from 40-48 years. According to Indian Menopause Society (IMS) research, the average age of menopause is around 48 years in India. The mean age at menopause among South Indian women is 48.7 years.1
Premature menopause is the end of menstruation before the age of 40 years and affects about 1% of women worldwide and it strikes Indian women as young as 30-35 years. About one fifth of women in India experience menopause before the age of 41 years according to the study conducted by India-based Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bangalore.
Syamala, T.S., & Sivakami, M. of ISEC used data from the National Family Health Survey (2007) to examine about 90,000 women aged 15-49 years across 26 Indian states. The study found that 3.1% of women attained
menopause between the ages 30-34, 8% experienced menopause by the age of 39 and 19% attained menopause by the age of 41. The study found that premature menopause was most common in rural areas especially among illiterate, agricultural and women with low body mass index (BMI) 2.
The physiological facts of menopause are universal, but the women’s experience of menopause differs by ethnicity, culture, socio economic status etc. There have been relatively few studies examining menopausal experiences in developing countries in Asia. They differ from each other politically, economically, socially, in the organization of healthcare systems and in the conditions of women’s lives. Not surprisingly, the findings reported by studies from the Asian region show some heterogeneity e.g. women reported few problems with their menopause other than menstrual cycle changes and menopause is perceived as a reward and freedom.
The magnitude of problem of menopause in India is growing as a significant public health issue. An increased prevalence of menopausal problems suggest the need for a study on assessment of perception, experience and coping strategies of women as a pre requisite for nurses to developing successful culturally focused preventive and control strategies for menopausal problems to have an easy and smooth midlife transition. This study finding would also help nurses to counsel women on reframing their perceptions about menopause and help menopausal women in early recognition of symptoms, and seek appropriate medical care to improve the women’s health related quality of life.