Dr. Jen Gunter has been called Twitter’s resident gynecologist and has used the platform expose unscientific wellness advice and debunks potentially harmful myths about women’s health.
With her latest book “The Menopause Manifesto: Own Your Health with Facts and Feminism” Dr Jen Gunter would like every woman to know as much about menopause as a well-informed gynecologist. The book discusses how menopause is not a disease and how there is misinformation, lack of research and culture of shame around woman’s bodies especially as we age.
How can we have a feminist menopause?
There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding menopause as it has previously been framed by the patriarchy as a “disease”. Really all menopause is is the planned end of ovarian function- this is part of the plan.
To have a feminist menopause, one must have good information about their body. One must be knowledgeable so that they can advocate for themselves while going through this stage of life. Another way is to observe the world around and to see how the language surrounding a women’s body is weaponized against us. For example, in medicine professionals will still use the term “Ovarian Failure” to described the planned end of ovarian function. When men suffer from erectile disfunction, the term is never re-translated to “penile failure”.
What is menopause, what are the symptoms?
The most common symptom of menopausal transition is the hormonal chaos that ensues before the final menstrual period. Some people will experience heavy flows, whereas others will just have a few irregular periods and then eventually stop. If you are experiencing debilitating heavy periods during this phase, there are solutions like hormonal treatments, medications and procedures that can help reduce the amount of blood.
Another very common issue is hot flashes, up to 80 % of women experience hot flashes or flush during the menopause transition. Temperature and reproduction are tightly controlled, when you are ovulating your body temperature increases and stay increased to help with implantation. When your hormones are changing to prepare for menopause, it makes sense that a change in temperature will happen.
40 to 60 % of women will also deal with sleep disturbances– not pleasant. Hot flashes at night can definitely impact your sleep. Similarly, some people may suffer with depression and therefore have trouble sleeping as depression can be triggered by menopause. In addition, many women will experience brain fog and forgetfulness.
Symptoms and quality of life are important factors, but it’s hard to have a life of quality if your life is shortened by a medical condition. One in three women will die of cardiovascular disease, a statistic which is often overlooked and forgotten. The increased risk of cardiovascular disease starts during menopause, keeping yourself in good health during menopause is also cardiovascular health.
Osteoporosis another disease that many women suffer through menopause which is often overlooked. During menopause Oestrogen levels drop which results in increased bone loss, which leads to fractures and other life-long ailments.
Benefits of menopause
We have talked about some of unpleasant parts of menopause but there are some benefits of this stage of life. First of all, not having your period is amazing!! You don’t have to worry about pregnancy scares, cramps and having an extra pad in your purse.
There’s a narrative that as a society we’ve been sold about how menopausal women are non-contributory, but this is just not true. You can continue to do amazing thing throughout your lifespan, life doesn’t end when your ovaries do.