Saturday, January 22, 2022

Why is Menopause A Taboo in India?

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“Menopause is a transitional phase like puberty but in reverse” – Salma- El- Yassari (Co-founder of Womeneze)

Menopause is a hump that every woman is bound to cross once in their lifespan; it is similar to the one they had crossed years back during their adolescence, but the after effect compared to the latter will be in reverse.

Even today, menopause is considered taboo in many places, which is why talks about the same have been muted. According to the mayo clinic, menopause is the time that marks the end of your menstrual cycles; it is common to occur during the ’40s and ’50s of a female.

The stages and symptoms of menopause 

Menopause is not easy; only a suffering woman can understand the pain and undesirable. Menopause is also characterized by an increased risk of heart diseases, memory loss, and osteoporosis!

What happens in menopause?

As estrogen hormones decline, it creates an imbalance amongst other hormones and control in the brain. After menarche and pregnancy, menopause is one of the three key life stages of a woman’s life.

It has been said that menopause is the longest life stage stretching for 20-30 years, and is characterized by the decline of female estrogen hormone production.

There are three stages of menopause: perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause. 

  • Perimenopause is defined as the time during which your body prepares itself for the natural transition to menopause. It commences with symptoms like irregular periods, urinary urgency, breast tenderness, and fatigue. As per the national centre for biological information, the average perimenopausal age of an Indian woman is 45.59 ± 5.59 years.
  • Menopause is defined as a point in which 12 months have succeeded after a woman’s last period. The average menopausal age of an Indian woman is 46.2 years.
  • Postmenopause is defined as the last stage of menopause when a woman has succeeded over 12 months since her last period. The symptoms include hot flashes, weight fluctuations, and vaginal dryness. 

The symptoms of menopause are a lot more similar to the PMS, but a few exceptions are hot flashes, vaginal dryness. However, unlike PMS, which gets improved once a period is finished, symptoms of menopause can extend over a period of time.

Physical:

  • Mood swings
  • Night sweating
  • Hot flashes
  • Anxiety
  • Vaginal dryness

Psychological:

  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Lack of motivation, anxiety
  • Insomnia

Guide to deal with menopause

Good nutrition and exercise help with tackling menopause; moreover, leading a healthy lifestyle will serve as armor in surviving any life-changing phase. During menopause, the inclusion and exclusion of certain types of food into your diet may contribute to a smoother journey.

Spicy foods trigger hot flashes, a very common symptom of menopause”- Salma – El-Yassir.

  • Avoid manufactured or fast foods as much as possible, and try to include more phytoestrogens in your diet. Phytoestrogens are plant-based components that have the power to limit the action of estrogen hormone in your body. They work like magic during this phase to balance the changes due to declining estrogen; some of their examples include legumes, broccoli, carrots, sesame seeds.
menopause taboo in India
  • Calcium and vitamin D-rich foods shall be mandatory in your diet, as menopause leads to weakening of your bones and increases the risk of osteoporosis due to hormonal changes, as per Outlook India

  • Include more dairy products like yogurt, milk, and leafy veggies like kale, spinach to supplement you with rich calcium. Exposure to sunlight can provide you with Vitamin D, or intake of Vitamin D supplements would be required.
old woman exercise
  • Regular exercise for 3 hours per week during menopause can render you enough strength to build stronger bones and prevent the risk of Osteoporosis. Also, drink 8–12 glasses of water a day to reduce dryness.

The consequences of taboos in our society 

When women are denied the opportunity to talk about menopause, the risk of getting in trouble due to inexperience will worsen their moral strength during this phase.

In India, menopause is taboo, even more than menstruation. Menopause touches two major taboos in our society, women’s reproductive health and aging; this is one of the reasons why it has become hard to open a conversation about menopause, as per a business insider.

At an international meet on menopausal management at Chandigarh, Dr. Neena Raina (Coordinator of Health through the life course) stated, “Menopause should not be taken either as a stigma or a taboo. Rather it should be talked about, to allow us to support each other through this phase without any hassle” in Indian express.

Inspiring initiatives to break the taboos

  • The International Menopause Society, in collaboration with the World Health Organisation, has designated October as World Menopause Awareness Month and October 18 as World Menopause Awareness Day. The purpose of the same initiative is to raise awareness of menopause.
  • Last year, menopause was added to the school curriculum in England to bring the spotlight in the fact that menopause is more than just a few hot flashes, as per BBC.
  • Recently, NCERT had declared to include teachings about LGBTQ in their upcoming textbooks. Similarly, they could start including more content about the symptoms of menopause.
  • Earlier this year, The Times of India had launched a revolutionary initiative called #CutTheShame on the World Menstrual Hygiene Day, a campaign that aimed to counter the taboos about menstruation. A similar one is launched to counter taboos about menopause as well. 

Authors note

I touched on the subject of menopause because I wanted to learn more about this stage that my mother, who is in her late forties, is about to embrace. She was there for me when I was going through puberty, and now it’s my turn to aid her as she walks through menopause. I became concerned about this issue after learning that my aunt had experienced early menopause, despite the fact that she was only in her late thirties and that she was also suffering from PCOD and diabetes. I concluded that it was my obligation as an individual to write about menopause and build awareness among our women readers.

Well, menopause is a natural part of life and must be addressed more openly and freely with the purpose of creating awareness. These days, many celebrities are coming forward to talk about Menopause in public, educating women and guiding them with all the safety measures to be taken care of. Though it’s easy to cope with the symptoms by following the proper diet, eating good nutrition, and exercising regularly, trying out the tips above can make your time during menopause beyond easier and more pleasant.

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