Menopause is stressful, with the fluctuating hormones, changing symptoms and general sense of anxiety and loss that can occur at this time of life. So it’s not surprising women do feel that life is better once it’s over.
The National Women’s Register (NWR) was founded in 1960 under the name of National Housewives Register and they exist to connect women of all ages across the UK who are interested in everything and talk about anything.
That certainly includes menopause as they recently did a survey of their members and asked the question: “Were you happier before or after the menopause?”
They answered overwhelmingly: “After!”
Why is life better post menopause?
619 NWR members were asked if they were happier before or after the menopause. 63% answered that they were happier afterwards. But why is this? Is it the relief of not having to put up with inconvenient and uncomfortable periods month after month?
Or could it be down to factors unrelated to health that tend to happen at this stage in life such as retirement or grandchildren? Is it an age where women finally feel confident and comfortable in their own skin?
Some NWR members talk about what post menopause is like for them.
NWR member, Sarah Akhtar, is a retired nurse and midwife. She explained:
“Starting at puberty, hormones from the brain and pituitary gland stimulate the ripening of eggs in the ovary and the preparation of the uterus and it’s lining for pregnancy. Oestrogen and progesterone produced in the ovary are essential for this process. Oestrogen at the same time acts on other parts of the woman’s body such as breasts, hair, skin and vaginal tissue.
When there is no pregnancy the lining of the uterus is shed as ‘periods’ or menstruation and the menstrual cycle begins again. Menstrual cycles continue at monthly intervals, barring pregnancies or medical intervention, usually until the woman is in her early fifties when the ovaries are eventually depleted of eggs.
The menopause starts when the woman stops having periods because oestrogen is no longer produced. The few years before the last period is sometimes called the peri-menopause.
For many women, the menopause is a relief but nature can be cruel and the joy of no periods can be offset by symptoms of hot flushes and sweats, insomnia and loss of concentration. Subsequently changes can also occur in her breasts, hair, skin and vagina.
These can sometimes have an adverse effect on the psychological, sexual and physical well-being of women.”
NWR member, Linda Waller:
When asked why she felt happier after the menopause she said: “This is difficult to answer. It’s almost impossible to separate out the effects of the menopause and other life factors.”
Linda has suffered from depression on and off since her twenties. She had an extremely stressful job as a family court social worker and her doctor suggested she might need to remain on anti-depressant medication permanently, or at least while she was still working.
However, the medication sent her ‘high’ verging on manic so it wasn’t the solution she was hoping for.
“Menopause complete (aged nearly 60!), I’m pleased to say that I am currently well and happy – with no medication for nearly a year.”
If you want to learn more about the work of the National Women’s Register visit www.nwr.org.uk.
There is no doubt that menopause can be experienced very differently for individual women. Some sail through with few symptoms but others are on a rollercoaster of flushes, night sweats and weight gain.
Unfortunately it seems that an increasing number of women are experiencing menopause symptoms well post menopause. A recent study has shown that a much higher proportion of ‘older’ women (average age 59 in this study) than was expected still suffer from hot flashes and night sweats, well after menopause is assumed to be over.
Post-menopause if oestrogen dominance is still present from being overweight, or exposed to other forms of oestrogen through the diet or environmentally, then that can increase flushes.
Also other factors can be at work, particularly stress or anxiety as these definitely affect your overall hormone balance.