When I experienced the struggles and pain of my first period, I thought that the women who don’t have to go through it anymore are the luckiest ones. No bleeding, no tension of leakage, no cramps, no mood swings – what a peaceful life they get to live!
My assumption proved to be terribly wrong when I was enlightened about menopause. I didn’t have a single clue about the unbearable struggles of its early stages, until I saw my mother go through it.
Menopause, a point in time when a woman stops having periods and cannot get pregnant naturally, is a rarely discussed subject. In our country, talking about menopause is considered a stigma, which makes the topic harder to deal with. There can be many symptoms and indications for the early stages of menopause and these could vary from person to person. For me, however, the disappointing part is that most of the people don’t even address these as problems and show zero empathy for the women who go through it.
On my way home from school, I could see aunties, in their 40s or 50s, sweating as if they were experiencing a hot flash. I got a clearer idea about hot flashes from my mother. When she reached her menopause, she used to have several hot flashes, even during sleep. As she is a working mom, it was painful to see her going to the office or cooking at that time. With inefficient ventilation in our kitchens, cooking or working in the kitchen is very exhausting for the mothers and the housemaids undergoing menopause. However, these nuisances are generally neglected by family members because they are unaware about menopause.
Another common symptom of menopause are mood swings, for which our mothers get bullied and criticised constantly. The fluctuation and disruption of hormones are responsible for these several emotional changes. They can sometimes have outbursts, which we don’t understand at all, calling our mothers “cranky”, “mad” and a lot more. The thing that enrages me is that when these women try to give opinions, people, especially men, think of it as an act of “flare-up”. Men use this misogynous tactic to make women feel bad when they feel like they are getting defeated.
After getting to know about different stories of women experiencing menopause, one thing that made me extremely sad is that there are countless women who feel insecure talking about their menopausal phase, even with their husbands. They consider menopause as a sign of getting old and many even lie about getting their periods due to insecurity. They think that if their husbands found out about their menopause, they would think less of them and won’t love them anymore.
All this makes me wonder how a sexist mentality can turn a very natural process into a social taboo, whereas it is our duty to show empathy to all the women who go through this transition of life.