209447 Making sense of menopause: How women understand their menopausal experiences and treatment decisions

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Jessica Elton, ABD , Department of Communication Studies & Theatre, Missouri Western State University, St. Joseph, MO
Adam W. Tyma, PhD , School of Communication, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha, NE
Midlife marks many physiological changes for women, including the transition into menopause. The National Institute on Aging (2001) estimates that nearly two million women turn 50 each year which is the average age of menopause in the United States. The large number of women experiencing menopause makes this an important health issue. While some scholars and health practitioners see menopause as a time of empowerment and change, others see it as a health issue that merits medical attention. Less explored in the literature is women's understanding of menopause, particularly how they construct and make sense of their menopausal experience. Further complicating women's understanding of menopause is the uncertainty of how to treat it. Recent studies, such as the Women's Health Initiative, have raised questions about the use of hormone replacement therapy to treat menopausal symptoms because of increased risk of breast cancer and stroke. This study examines the social construction of menopause through qualitative, semi-structured interviews with perimenopausal and menopausal women. Specifically, it explores women's understanding of menopause and their menopausal experiences in order to gain a better understanding of their treatment decisions.

Learning Objectives:
1. Compare women’s understandings of menopause with those of the scholarly and medical research community. 2. Explain how women’s experiences with menopause influenced their decisions regarding hormone replacement therapy.

Keywords: Menopause, Women's Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to be an abstract Author on the content I am responsible for because I will have completed a PhD in Health Communication at Purdue University by May 2009. My dissertation examines menopause and hormone replacement therapy. In addition to my dissertation, I have presented several papers at academic conferences, including APHA and the National Communication Association Annual Convention, on health communication issues, particularly on women's health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.