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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

What Comes First- Aging Or Menopause?

What comes first- menopause or aging? Does aging naturally result in menopause or does menopause cause a more rapid aging? This is the billion dollar question which must be asked by generation of women, men and science.

Menopause research could quickly and erroneously conclude that menopause causes negative aging; however, is this the proper order of events? The medical-pharmaceutical industries are betting big bucks on this as they search for ways to medicalize (control) menopause.

Different research sources regard menopause quite differently. Some research positions the menopuase state as unnatural due to longevity of women in today's post-modern generations. Previously, large groups of older women simply didn’t exist because many died prematurely- due to childbirth, illness, infection, and other causes. Today's women, in large measure, live up to one third of their lives after menopause! Our improved longevity is due to modernized childbirth and post partum care, better nutrition, antibiotics, superior sanitation measures, and enhanced health. Women live longer than before and they live longer as older women – therefore menopause is more apparent to the medical arena.

To assume that living longer is the problem or that menopause is unnatural because of longer life spans is simply faulty reasoning on top of faulty reasoning. It is faulty to presume that because menopause wasn’t "wide-spread” in previous eras, women weren’t meant to live for many years beyond natural menopause. Menopause is not a cruel joke for women who happen to have outlived their ancestors by several generations. Some scientists have remarked, very off point, that women are the only species to outlive fertility and thus menopause is unnatural! Their solutions to this problem are to control and over- medicalize menopause.

Medicalization of menopause attempts to stave off menopause or its effects & symptoms to an even older, unnatural menopausal age. If the medical arena assumes that menopause is a disease they look for therapeutic and medicalized treatment plans. As a result, hormone replacement therapies are considered the way to ward off menopause. However, the therapeutic paths forward are less clear to many women and doctors given the evidence from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) and the Heart Estrogen Replacement Study (HERS).

The results of these large menopause studies will be considered in a future blog.

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