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Menopause Makeover: Creating A New Vocabulary For Positive Aging

During my consultations, I frequently encounter women who inquire about the possibility of delaying menopause due to concerns about societal stigma and the negative effects of aging and frailty. They confided in me that even when they try to express their symptoms in order to seek help, they often face dismissive and discouraging responses. The fear of societal stigma can leave women susceptible to marketing and media messages that exploit their concerns and anxieties.

Examples of the negative impact of social stigmas around menopause:

1. Isolation and loneliness: Women going through menopause may feel like they are alone in their experience because it is not openly discussed. This can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, which can have a negative impact on mental health.

2. Negative stereotypes: Menopause is often associated with negative stereotypes and jokes, such as women being "irrational" or "moody." These stereotypes perpetuate the idea that women going through menopause are difficult to deal with, which can lead to discrimination and mistreatment in the workplace and other areas of life.

3. Lack of information: When menopause is stigmatized, women may feel hesitant to seek information or talk to their healthcare providers about their experiences. This can lead to misinformation and misunderstandings about menopause.

4. Reduced quality of life: Women who experience severe menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and insomnia, may avoid social situations or activities they enjoy because they are embarrassed or uncomfortable.

5. Gender inequality: The social stigmas around menopause can reinforce gender inequality by perpetuating the idea that women's bodies are "other" or "abnormal" compared to men's bodies. This can lead to discrimination and a lack of support for women going through menopause.

By being mindful of the words we use and the messages we convey, we can create a more positive and supportive environment that empowers people to be their best selves.

Brief evolution of the term menopause

In the early 19th century, the cessation of menstruation in women was a poorly understood and often stigmatized phenomenon. As medical knowledge advanced, researchers began to study the hormonal changes that occur during menopause and the impact they have on women's health. In 1845, a French physician named Charles Édouard Brown-Séquard coined the term "menopause" to describe the cessation of menstruation and the associated physiological changes. This term has since become widely used in medical and scientific circles.

Spoken words are powerful because they have the ability to influence our subconscious thoughts and shape our beliefs, perceptions, and behaviors. When we hear spoken words, our brains process them and make associations with other experiences and beliefs we hold. This can result in the reinforcement of existing beliefs or the creation of new ones. The influence of spoken words on our subconscious can also impact our behaviors. For instance, if someone repeatedly hears messages about the importance of exercise and healthy eating, they may be more likely to engage in those behaviors themselves. Similarly, if someone repeatedly hears messages about the dangers of smoking, they may be less likely to start or continue smoking.

I would like to propose reconsidering the term "menopause" with another term such as "climacteric." The term "climacteric" has a long history and has been used to describe a critical stage in human life since the 1620s. The word "climacteric" comes from the Latin word "climactericus," which means "a critical period in life." This term was used to describe a time of transition that was believed to occur at certain intervals throughout a person's life, with the most significant climacteric occurring around the age of 50.

The reason for this proposal is to eliminate the social stigma that is attached to menopause, which implies that a woman is no longer of use to society because of her loss of reproductive capacity. By referring to this transition as "climacteric," we can remove the negative connotations associated with menopause and emphasize the fact that this is a natural and important stage in a woman's life. This change in terminology can help to shift the conversation around menopause towards a more positive and supportive one, where women are encouraged to embrace this transition as a time of growth, wisdom and renewal rather than a source of shame, embarrassment or stigma.

Today, the term "climacteric" is already being used to describe the mid-life transition that many people experience, although our understanding of this phenomenon has evolved significantly since the 17th century.

While the term climacteric may be difficult to pronounce, it is a scientifically accepted and neutral term that can be used by anyone experiencing a life change.

History has shown us that terminology can evolve to meet changing needs. Being receptive to improved ways of describing menopause is a crucial aspect of our growth and development as a society, as it better aligns with our current perspectives and goals for the future.

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