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'Do I really want to know that?' How mothers and adult children talk about menopause
Unformatted Document Text:  Menopause and Personal Health 3 Talking the Talk: How Mothers and Daughters and Mothers and Sons Communicate about menopause “I don’t ever recall my mother ever telling me about menopause. As far as I ever knew, this was a private time in her life, in fact, I don’t think I even knew she was dealing with it until she had already been through perimenopause.” --Sandi, menopause computer-mediated discussion group Introduction Most young adult lives are consumed with careers and family and not thoughts of menopause. Their mothers, in comparison, may be experiencing perimenopause or find ‘the change’ lurking around the corner. Menopause is the point at which a woman ceases menstruation for 12 consecutive months. It begins with perimenopause and ends in the climacteric postmenapausal phase, bringing about irregular menstrual flows, as well as physical changes created by the sudden drop in estrogen (e.g., hot flashes, mood swings, and altered sleeping patterns) (Span, 1997). Although menopause marks a normal health transition in a woman’s life cycle, it is a topic often ignored and rarely discussed. As Sandi discloses above, few women are prepared for its inevitability. Yet, with 40 million baby boomers either on the cusp of or currently experiencing menopause, it has become a topic for discussion in public and private spheres (Gonyea, 1998; Weinstein, 1997). While the majority of research has focused on spouse social support, hormone replacement therapies, information seeking about menopause and attitudes about the life experience (Avis & McKinlay, 1991; Bresnahan & Murray-Johnson, 2002; Gannon & Ekstrom, 1993), little is known about the communication exchanges between mothers and their adult children. The goal of this paper is to analyze (a) mothers’ and adult childrens’ willingness to

Authors: Murray-Johnson, Lisa. and Bresnahan, Mary.
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Menopause and Personal Health 3
Talking the Talk: How Mothers and Daughters and Mothers and Sons Communicate
about menopause
“I don’t ever recall my mother ever telling me about menopause. As far
as I ever knew, this was a private time in her life, in fact, I don’t think
I even knew she was dealing with it until she had already been through
perimenopause.”
--Sandi, menopause computer-mediated discussion group

Introduction
Most young adult lives are consumed with careers and family and not thoughts of
menopause. Their mothers, in comparison, may be experiencing perimenopause or find ‘the
change’ lurking around the corner. Menopause is the point at which a woman ceases
menstruation for 12 consecutive months. It begins with perimenopause and ends in the
climacteric postmenapausal phase, bringing about irregular menstrual flows, as well as physical
changes created by the sudden drop in estrogen (e.g., hot flashes, mood swings, and altered
sleeping patterns) (Span, 1997). Although menopause marks a normal health transition in a
woman’s life cycle, it is a topic often ignored and rarely discussed. As Sandi discloses above,
few women are prepared for its inevitability. Yet, with 40 million baby boomers either on the
cusp of or currently experiencing menopause, it has become a topic for discussion in public and
private spheres (Gonyea, 1998; Weinstein, 1997).
While the majority of research has focused on spouse social support, hormone
replacement therapies, information seeking about menopause and attitudes about the life
experience (Avis & McKinlay, 1991; Bresnahan & Murray-Johnson, 2002; Gannon & Ekstrom,
1993), little is known about the communication exchanges between mothers and their adult
children. The goal of this paper is to analyze (a) mothers’ and adult childrens’ willingness to


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