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Cultural And Social Meanings

Women's specific concerns about menopause vary by culture (Datan 1987). Once thought of as a deficiency disease, menopause has been feared as well as welcomed (Lewis and Bernstein 1996). The sociocultural values about aging account for part of the diversity in meaning. In Asian cultures, for instance, age is regarded with respect. Women in menopause, therefore, may be accorded a higher status (Lock 1993). This may change, however, as Western values influence other parts of the world, and women may feel less satisfied as they enter this period of life (Berger 1999). In the United States and European countries, age is often associated with loss of attractiveness and value. In Western culture, the menopausal years are regarded as the enemy of youth, and they result in disqualification of the woman's feminine beauty (Scarf 1980). In other cultures, however, the biological processes are themselves qualifications for entry into the man's world. The end of menses is associated with a new freedom to participate in rituals previously closed to women (duToit 1990). In some Indian cultures, for example, women who have ceased menstruation are given more opportunity to move around the house in an unrestricted manner and to participate in prayers and funeral preparations (du Toit 1990).

In a study of women from different cultures residing in Israel, Nancy Datan (1987) found significant differences among her subjects. Some Moslem Arabs feared a decline in marital relations with the loss of fertility, while some European women were concerned about going crazy during menopause (Datan 1987).

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Marriage and Family EncyclopediaOther Marriage & Family TopicsMenopause - Cultural And Social Meanings, Menopausal Symptoms, Preparation For Menopause, Medical Treatment, Conclusion