Personally I had never thought about menopause at all, after all I just turned twenty! So how does a twenty year old end up going to a menopause session exactly? Well, I am actually studying abroad and as part of this experience I have to do a service learning placement, and I luckily happened to be placed with Hands Inc.
So back to the story, I did not know what to expect when I arrived at the location, but I was open and determined to learn as much as possible. So on that Monday I went to observe the Hands Inc menopause project. I had noticed last December that my mother was having symptoms of the menopause. She never told me exactly what they were but I noticed the insomnia and what I now know as is called hot flushes.
During the session I was able to interact with the women who are currently experiencing menopause. During the session there were many questions and gaps in knowledge about what was happening to them during this part of their lives. I learnt just how little information even the woman who were going through the menopause, knew. I found this shocking, but not surprising as it is a taboo subject in our society .
I mean think about it, I don’t even think that menopause was once mentioned in my biology books, which is crazy because it is a criteria that should fall under biology! The women were able to share some of their symptoms which all range from insomnia to hot flushes, and dizziness. They were able to openly speak about some of the remedies they use to cope with their symptoms. Some such as tea, meditation, and just the mere fact of acknowledging that menopause was taking place in their body.
One of the activities the instructor had the ladies do was recounting their most pivotal and important changes that had occurred to their body. They all mostly started with their menstruation, then the birth or loss of children, then some also spoke of diseases they had acquired or other strains their body had encountered in their lives. But finally reaching the point of menopause. The instructor told me that this portion might be emotional due to the nature of the women actually putting into perspective their whole life and the reality that the odds that they will be able to conceive a child are very slim, as they were at the end of their fertility cycle. It was a very emotional activity but a very important one as it does make them think and put many aspects of their life before them. The instructor was correct, there were some women who realised that the possibility of becoming a mother was not likely to happen. Some who realised just how much strain their body had endured after giving birth. It was interesting to see just how these women, although going through different things, were in the same stage of their life. There was something so nostalgic and inspiring all at once.
I also noticed something that I had never really given much thought to before. Women were sharing how they had previously perceived menopause as negative because society is consistently telling and showing them that youth is what is appealing and not the older women. Through the sessions they were learning to accept this stage in their life and embrace the lack of a menstrual flow and being able to have sex at any time of the month without worrying about conceiving.
This experience put many things into perspective but the most pivotal was the need for more sessions like these in which woman are communicating about this. Also bringing awareness to this important subject, as every woman will go through this sooner or later. I always say it is better to know than to go into something blind.
By, Jacqueline Beltran- Hands Inc. Intern