Menopause: What makes some cope better than others?
Why it is that some women pass through menopause with barely a hot flush or mood swing to speak of whilst others feel they are stuck on a hormonal roller coaster?
"It's all about resilience, " says Associate Professor Lily Stojanovska of Victoria University who will be presenting the findings of her pilot study at this week's 8th Australasian Menopause Society Congress in Perth.
Professor Stojanovska set out to investigate how women experience the menopausal transition and whether specifically, menopause was a central factor or if there were other aspects of their life that contributed to their sense of health and wellbeing.
"We really wanted to identify the mechanisms, or coping tools that made some women more resilient and able to positively adapt to a major life event such as menopause." said Professor Stojanovska.
Women who adapt and function more positively despite stressful situations or life changes were shown to utilise strategies and techniques that improved their resilience in these situations.
Participants took part in 2 in-depth interviews at three-month intervals. Interviews focussed on identifying the meaning of resilience and coping mechanisms, as well as exploration of the psychological factors that contribute to resilience and differences between these factors in peri- and postmenopausal women.
Findings were drawn from the qualitative data produced in the interviews and thematically analysed. Preliminary results show that there were three significant themes in both peri-menopausal and post-menopausal women:
- Women who coped with life's adversities and challenges coped with the challenges of menopause.
- Women who displayed little or no resilience in life matters also displayed little or no resilience with the experience of menopause.
- Women who were searching for tools to cope with menopause were reflective, explorative and proactive in their search and experimentation with complementary medicines and philosophical approaches.
The bulk of menopause research is clinical, however, this is a quality of life study that looks at the other physical and emotional factors happening around the time of menopause including: the revolving door at home of children leaving and returning to the nest, aged parents, libido, changing body shapes and self esteem.
"These findings are consistent with our previous studies and will form the basis of education guidelines about the most effective ways women approaching menopause and beyond can improve their resilience and make the transition a less bumpy ride," said Professor Stojanovska.
Source: Eurekalert & othersLast reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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