The second in our series of articles exploring premature menopause.
If you are going through premature menopause, you might be feeling quite isolated right now.
Although you may be a part of this (or another) online community of menopausal women, but if you don’t find yourself being represented, the feeling of isolation can feel more acute. True, age is just a number, but it’s a number that (to some degree) can signify a point in your life, how many experiences you’ve been through, what your goals are and what your fears are. Because premature menopause hits women at a younger age, their experiences are going to be very different from the majority of menopausal women.
The feeling of isolation is often caused by a lack of information.
To illustrate, at 51 – the average age of the menopause – a woman might be married or divorced, with children, holding a senior position at work and/or dealing with the effects of aging. Yet, a woman going through premature menopause might be in her thirties (or even younger in some instances). She might still be going to first weddings, her friends might only just be having children and she might still have years and years to climb up the career ladder at work. This set of circumstances creates very different anxieties and problems when compared to that of the average menopausal women. Again, it makes it even more isolating.
The feeling of isolation is often caused by a lack of information. A premature menopausal woman might have difficulty turning to her friends for support, since they are more than likely not going through the same thing. So instead, she may turn to the internet only to find that like the world around her, it’s not always very helpful. Naturally, information about the menopause and its symptoms are going to be centred around an older woman and since every woman’s experience is so different, it’s understandable that most articles seem to reference the average case. The lack of information and exposure around premature menopause is therefore, in part, due to the rarity of it. As it only affects 1% of the female population under 40, it may seem like too much of a niche topic to discuss at length (but not for us, of course!).
Because younger women might not be comfortable talking about it, there is naturally less awareness of it (both on the micro, and the macro level).
Secondly, the stigma that women experiencing an early menopause face is generally harder to deal with than that faced by an older menopausal women (which is already hard enough). It’s understandably hard for women to feel comfortable openly discussing their menopause, which they might come to see as abnormal, unfair, or embarrassing. If it’s already difficult for the average menopausal woman to talk about the menopause, when she’s expected to have it, it stands to reason that it will be more difficult for younger women to open up about it when no one expects them to be experiencing the menopause. Yet, it’s a negative feedback cycle. Because younger women might not be comfortable talking about it, there is naturally less awareness of it (both on the micro, and the macro level). It’s easier to encourage an older menopausal woman to break the silence by saying, ‘This is normal for your age, everyone is going through it, there’s nothing to worry about!’ But of course, it’s a different story for younger women so it’s important for society to recognise, understand, and be empathetic about it and not leave those women feeling even more isolated.
There are a few essential things to remember. Firstly, it’s a two-way street. As a website that aims at breaking the stigma against the menopause, we are aiming to bring premature menopause to light. Likewise, we hope that if you are a premature menopausal woman, you will be willing to share your story. Start here, start within the menopause community (on and offline), and together, we can work our way outwards. Secondly, you aren’t alone, even if it sometimes feels that way. There are resources and communities out there dedicated to supporting and informing premature menopausal women including our friends at The Daisy Network.
If you are currently experiencing or have experienced premature menopause and would be happy to share your story, we would love to hear from you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.