by Gloria Graham
(image by Hiske)

For many women the Menopause (also known as the Change of life or the Climatic) has been a worrying and difficult time of life. As more information and support becomes available this is beginning to change.

No longer the silent passage, women are starting to look at, talk about and own their Menopause. We are taking more responsibility for our own lives. We can choose to see this time as a Rite of Passage, to value it, with all it's joys and frustrations and to celebrate the beginning of our life as older women. As we approach this time we start to revalue aspects of ourselves. Our thoughts and feelings take a new direction. We become more acutely aware of our health, our relationships with family and friends, our economic security and our own inner selves.
Just as we were apprehensive as pubescent teenagers, standing on the dorsal of childhood, about to be pushed out into the unknown turbulence of puberty, we can also be nervous about approaching the Menopause, about letting go of aspects of femininity that have defined us as younger women.

Today, Menopause is seen more as a gateway to a second adulthood. If fifty is the old age of youth, then fifty is the youth of this second adulthood. Germaine Greer writes in her book The Change: "Women need to devise their own Rite of Passage, a celebration of what could be regarded as the restoration of a woman to herself".
In a society which often regards ageing as useless, it is no wonder many women see Menopause as fearful and confusing. We need to be conscious of our own strengths, self worth and wisdom.

As we start to approach Menopause, there are many questions to be asked. Do we follow our natural flow of being a woman? Do I go for the Hormone Replacement Therapy? It can become confusing for women, with H.R.T. being pushed on us by the medical profession. But there are alternatives. Doctors need to be more aware and understanding of the variety of women and of their differing needs. They say that 15% of women have no problems when their periods cease. 70% of women, however, experience some symptoms and changes. These can be hot flushes, mood swings, lack of confidence, crying for no reason, insomnia, weight gain and other changes.

Maybe the biggest concern is Osteoporosis. As we get older our bone density becomes thinner and more brittle. Western women are more prone to Osteoporosis than our African and Asian sisters. It is partly genetic, partly lifestyle, and partly diet and general health, so with the right attitude to the way we live, we can help to ward off Osteoporosis.

Remember, Menopause is not a disorder but, like puberty, is a period of physical and emotional change which affects some women more than others.

As a 53 year old post-Menopausal woman myself, I chose not to use H.R.T. I have always enjoyed and gone with my natural process of my womanhood. At the approach of my Menopause I became more conscious of my diet, choosing to help some of my symptoms such as hot flushes, lack of confidence and mood swings with the use of herbs, Bach and Bush Flower Remedies, by walking each morning and doing yoga.

Remember, it is your Menopause, your Rite of Passage, so find out as much as you can about the Natural Remedies and as much as possible about the good and not so good aspects of the H.R.T. There is plenty of information out there - talk to your friends: there are some very good books and support groups available.

I run workshops on the natural approach to Menopause, with discussion on diet, herbs and vitamins, exercise, relaxation and meditation, all of which can help you.

What follows are a few quotes that I give to the women who come to my workshops:

Elizabeth Stevenson, a Jungian analyst at Cambridge University, said at the age of 54 after using herbs and vitamins, as well as acupuncture for the relief of hot flushes, "You know how you feel, a week after your period ends, like you could slay dragons. That is how a post Menopausal woman feels all the time if she is conscious of it." Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who pursued justice for women well into her eighties was living proof of her belief in the older woman, "The heyday of a woman's life is the shady side of fifty, when the vital forces come expended in other ways, are garnered in the brain. When their thoughts and sentiments flow out in broader channels, when philanthropy takes the place of family selfishness and when from the depths of poverty and suffering the wail of humanity grows as pathetic to their ears as once was the cry of their own children".
And this one from Sarah Henderson (Australian cattle woman), "All the strength you need to achieve anything is within you. Don't wait for a light to appear at the end of the tunnel. Stride down and light the bloody thing yourself".

For practical information on the natural approach to menopause see Gloria's second article. See also Estrogen: The wonder drug of our generation? for detailed information about the pros and cons of taking estrogen

See also the yoni bookshelf on menopause. You can order the books we recommend directly on-line through our association with, the Internet's leading book supplier.

If you would like to share your experiences of menopause or your questions with other yOni readers do check out yOni's menopause support board.

See also:

A gallery of Hiske's shamanic artwork

video seminar on female arousal
the yOni bookshelf Goddess Gifts

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