The menopause experience: A woman's perspective
Menopause is a complex phenomenon which encompasses physiological, psychological, and social aspects of this midlife experience. The meaning of menopause or what it symbolizes to women in American society depends on multiple factors and differs among women. The assumption is that although menopause is a biological event, social meanings determine how a woman perceives and interprets the reality of that event. How this transition is experienced by women may depend on their cultural norms, social influences and personal knowledge about menopause.
The purpose of this phenomenological study is to Understand the complexities of the human experience of menopause in American women from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. The research question is “What is the meaning of menopause as experienced by American women?” The specific aims of this phenomenological study were to (a) examine and interpret the reality of the menopausal transition as experienced by American women and (b) identify common elements and themes that occur as a result of the complexities of this experience. Data were gathered through semi-structured interviews with fifteen women who had experienced natural menopause. Three major themes were extracted during the data analysis: (a) expectations and realization, (b) sorting things out, and (c) a new life phase. Although some women expressed similar thoughts in particular categories, no two women had the same experience of menopause. The data from this study support the premise that the experience of menopause in American women is unique and individualized and that the meaning or perspective differs among women. The data revealed the complexities of this human experience by explicating personal meanings related to experiences, expectations, attitudes and beliefs about menopause.
0453: Womens studies