While touring the country doing lectures about my experience with menopause, I began to collect some of the personal stories that women shared with me, particularly those told during that warm time of good conversation when women gathered around after the formal part of the program had ended.
Often we discussed our mother’s experiences with menopause. My mother who was a terrific communicator taught me nothing about menopause. Maybe she suffered in silence or whispered about it to her friends, but I didn’t learn anything. I frequently ask women if they remember their mothers’ menopausal experiences. The answers range from I remember that she seemed to act weird for a long while maybe that was during her menopause‚ to: She seemed despondent, depressed, more nervous than I had ever seen her‚; She cried a lot‚; She seemed to become reclusive‚; and She grew old suddenly before my eyes.‚ Many women I spoke with didn’t even have this much of a clue, as their mothers and grandmothers had died before this signal event had occurred.
Therefore, many women are left with lots of questions. As one lovely lady confided to me in Pittsburgh, I never could have brought myself to talk about that with my doctor it’s too personal!‚
At the programs I have heard as many questions about the basic process of menopause itself (what is it, when does it occur, how will I know the symptoms, etc.) as about the more complex issues of hormone replacement therapy, osteoporosis, heart disease, and cancer. There are remarkably few questions about sex, and that always surprises me. As with the Gallup survey, that may be because people continue to feel reticent when it comes to asking questions about sex.
In this chapter, I want to share those rudimentary questions and answers so that we are basing our understanding of menopause upon the same definitions and facts. The questions below have been asked at every program. These questions and answers will serve as an excellent foundation for all of the other questions and answers in this blog.