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Menopausal Symptoms

Women vary in their subjective experiences of symptoms. Not all of women's perceived changes in the body are reflected in the mirror; some are derived from a woman's perception of herself, based on the accounts of others. Expectations vary and are adjusted to actual experiences.

In the United States and Europe, symptoms of hot flashes and irritability are most commonly presented. Japanese women seem more worried about stiff shoulders, eyesight problems, fatigue, and irritability (Lock 1993). Indian women report hot flashes, weight gain, bloating of the stomach, headaches, lack of sexual interest, dizzy spells, loss of energy, and constipation (duToit 1993).

The differential report of symptoms supports the view that menopause is both a biological and subjective event defined by culture. Some Arab women report that they are not aware when they reach menopause. Many have been pregnant or nursing since the onset of menses to menopause (Beyene 1986). Rural Mayan Indian women do not report any symptoms and in fact welcome menopause as a positive transition from childbearing and a time when they may pass many household chores to daughters-in-law (Martin et al. 1993). Lock (1993) reports that some Japanese women separate the experience of cessation of menses and the "change," which is known as konenki. Many believe the way in which a woman lives her life can control the symptoms. Interestingly, the view that menopause can be controlled was a belief previously accepted in Western thought before it arose in Japan (Lewis and Bernstein 1996). Some women do make a connection between the end of menstruation and konenki. Among Japanese women, neither educational level nor occupation seems to account for the differences. The women who associate the symptoms of konenki with the end of menstruation hold beliefs that are more closely related to those of North American women (Lock 1993).

Additional topics

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