Happy After The Change
Yes, there is a silver lining to every cloud and that would include menopause. Aside from the obvious benefits (no more tampons, blood-stained underwear, or cramps), what is the positive side of the years following menopause? One British study turned up some surprising answers to this question. The overall picture presented by this study is that women in their fifties are happy, in better health, and are having terrific sex in comparison to their younger years.
The study surveyed women aged 50-64 and found that 65% of them were happier than prior to menopause, 66% felt greater independence, and 59% said their relationships with friends and partners had improved. 48% of the women reported that their working lives had improved postmenopause with only 15% claiming their work performance and status had deteriorated. While 19% of the women said their sex lives provided less satisfaction, they were overruled by the 29% who claimed sex was better than ever.
The study called "Jubilee" in reference to the female experience before and after the age of 50, was undertaken by the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford. The researchers feel the results of the study demonstrate that the modern woman finds her postmenopausal years more satisfying than did those women of comparable age and stature in the 1950's. The co-director of the center, Kate Fox, was surprised to find the results of the study ran counter to her preconceptions about menopause as, "something to be dreaded—an unpleasant experience in itself, leading to the even greater unpleasantness of official old age."
Some 200 women were polled for the survey which found that the greatest postmenopausal weight gain was seen in those women who were given hormone replacement therapy (HRT). On the other hand, HRT was found to improve the sex drive and the sex act in 50%, as opposed to 18% of the women not on HRT. In terms of their working lives, a full two-thirds of women on HRT found an improvement in their work performance and in their ability to pursue the career track, whereas 56% of the women not on HRT had the same experience. An overwhelming 71% of the women on HRT found their general health and wellbeing had improved as compared to 48% of those women not using hormone replacement therapy.
The typical woman surveyed was middle-class, well educated and knowledgeable about health issues. The published report states that the participants represented, "a new elite, nicknamed HRH's, hormone-rich and happy."
Women's health specialist Annie Evans of the Bristol Royal infirmary has said that a century ago, the average age of menopause was 47, but life expectancy was only 49. Dr. Evans commented, "Now women become menopausal at just over 50 but life expectancy is nearer 80, so we can expect to spend 25 or 30 years after the menopause. They need to be able to make the kind of informed choices that will help them to maximize their enjoyment of all those extra years." Evans states that HRT may not be the right choice for all women, but for many of them, HRT can bring improved quality of life.