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Menopause and Culture

Menopause and Culture

Menopause and Culture

Every person born biologically female will eventually go through menopause. It is a natural state of ageing however every single person is affected differently and every culture deals with and reports the varying symptoms of menopause differently. The menopause experience is generally reported as being the same across the globe – as a time when a female person stops menstruating for at least one year.

The experience as we know can affect people both physically and mentally, however there are differences in the individual menopause journey of women from varying cultures.

It has been noted that there is more reporting on menopause within the West than the East, as ageing is widely accepted in the East and the matriarch more revered than in the West. With multi-generational households supporting each other, menopause in some Asian and African cultures is a sign that “mum” should now begin to rest because she has worked for many years before. Within these areas, symptoms of brain fog are reported less often, however muscular and joint pain are reported more so. In Europe and the USA, women are working well into their sixties (by this time, on average, well beyond the early stages of menopause) which for some could account for less aches and pains as the body keeps physically and regularly active.

It has been noted that, on average, people of African heritage tend to experience menopause earlier than most – with the average age being 45-48 years (in comparison to Europe with the average age of 50-53 years old experiencing more than one year without menstruating), though the reasons for this is largely unknown.

Light exercise such as Tai Chi and yoga is promoted in parts of Asia and have become common amongst the privileged in the West, as access for some that are not used to this type of exercise is limited; though with the advent of, social media and smart phones, access to at home classes is much higher for those with limited budget to spend on group sessions. It must be noted that as multi-culturally diverse as the UK has become in recent years, there is a culture of deprivation where access to wellness support for both White English/British people is just as limited as for those that are Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic in some areas.

Dr Nighat Arif, a GP from Buckinghamshire specialising in women’s health, speaks regularly about cultural differences including heritage and deprivation, and raises awareness about the fact that people do not experience menopause in the same way. No matter what, if something doesn’t feel or seem quite right for “us” as individuals, it is a sign that we must seek support and help from our GPs.

Click the link to watch an interview with Dr Nighat Arif talking about menopause and working with BAME women –