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From Biology to Culture: The Roles of Gender, Race, and Sexuality for Women's Menopausal Experiences
Unformatted Document Text:  2 Past Research on Menopausal Expectations and Experiences Much of the past research on women and menopause has focused on women’s attitudes and expectations, rates of “symptoms,” and depression. With few exceptions (Jones, 1994; Martin, 1987; Winterich and Umberson, 1999), past menopause research is based on quantitative surveys. Much of this research defines menopause as the cessation of menses and associates a huge range of vasomotor and emotional changes with the menopausal transition, or perimenopause. For example, in “The Normal Menopause Transition” by McKinlay, Brambilla and Posner (1996), they define the perimenopausal transition by the following items: age (51), the number of years the transition lasts (approximately 3.5 years), and the three most common “symptoms:” hot flashes, cold sweats and insomnia (1996). Other research includes long “symptom” checklists, sometimes including as many as 40-100 items. With few exceptions (see Padonu, et al., 1996; Mansfield and Voda, 1997) these checklists are overwhelmingly negative and vague (see Rostosky and Travis, 1996, for a critique of this literature). The findings of past survey research suggest thatmost women view the end of their menses positively or neutrally, but those with the most negative attitudes about menopause report the most negative feelings and may have more health problems prior to menopause than those who view it positively (Avis and McKinlay, 1991). Furthermore, women who become depressed during menopause tend to have histories of depression (Avis and McKinlay, 1991; Matthews et al., 1990). Other research on perimenopausal changes suggests that most mid-life women report a range of somatic, emotional and vasomotor conditions including weight gain, fatigue, joint pain, irritability, headaches, hot flashes and vaginal dryness (Lee and Taylor, 1996; Mansfield and Voda, 1997).

Authors: Winterich, Julie.
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Past Research on Menopausal Expectations and Experiences
Much of the past research on women and menopause has focused on women’s
attitudes and expectations, rates of “symptoms,” and depression. With few exceptions
(Jones, 1994; Martin, 1987; Winterich and Umberson, 1999), past menopause research is
based on quantitative surveys. Much of this research defines menopause as the cessation
of menses and associates a huge range of vasomotor and emotional changes with the
menopausal transition, or perimenopause. For example, in “The Normal Menopause
Transition” by McKinlay, Brambilla and Posner (1996), they define the perimenopausal
transition by the following items: age (51), the number of years the transition lasts
(approximately 3.5 years), and the three most common “symptoms:” hot flashes, cold
sweats and insomnia (1996). Other research includes long “symptom” checklists,
sometimes including as many as 40-100 items. With few exceptions (see Padonu, et al.,
1996; Mansfield and Voda, 1997) these checklists are overwhelmingly negative and
vague (see Rostosky and Travis, 1996, for a critique of this literature).
The findings of past survey research suggest thatmost women view the end of
their menses positively or neutrally, but those with the most negative attitudes about
menopause report the most negative feelings and may have more health problems prior to
menopause than those who view it positively (Avis and McKinlay, 1991). Furthermore,
women who become depressed during menopause tend to have histories of depression
(Avis and McKinlay, 1991; Matthews et al., 1990). Other research on perimenopausal
changes suggests that most mid-life women report a range of somatic, emotional and
vasomotor conditions including weight gain, fatigue, joint pain, irritability, headaches,
hot flashes and vaginal dryness (Lee and Taylor, 1996; Mansfield and Voda, 1997).


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