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Resilience in Ecuadorian menopausal women

Menopause is common the world over. Unfortunately, so is the medical community’s lack of awareness of the ramifications of menopause on women. While various societies deal with women’s health issues within the contexts of varying social and cultural settings, one thing becomes clear. The more we share research and knowledge, the better we all are.

Menopause may be a natural phase for women, but this time presents some enormous physical and emotional challenges. Unlike the adolescent transition when life is just getting started, menopause means facing the loss of youth and impending mortality. Is there anything women can do to help manage the change? Is menopause a time of discovering your resilience?

Resilience refers to your ability to adjust to difficult times or changes. To understand how women cope during perimenopause and menopause, doctors are looking at the role inner and outer factors affect a woman’s resilience. It is not easy to put figures on feelings, but with a tool called the Wagnild and Young Resilience Scale, doctors can get an idea of how their patients are dealing with life and health issues. The questionnaire comes in two forms: a 14-question, and a 25-question version. You answer the questions based on whether you agree or disagree with a statement such as “I take things in stride.”

This test was used as part of a study of Ecuadorian women to calculate the resilience in middle-aged women dealing with varying stages of menopause. Until now, there have been very few if any studies that addressed women’s wellbeing during menopause, especially in terms of psychological health, making this an important breakthrough in medical research that can help women in Ecuador and beyond.

A total of 904 women between the ages of 40-59 were given the 14-question version of the Wagnild and Young Resilience Scale test. The group’s median age was 49 years. Among the other important items to note:
*51% of the women were postmenopausal
*12.6% used hormone replacement therapy
*43.5% had an abdominal measurement greater than 88cm or 34.6 inches
*80.1% had a spouse or partner
*43.8% of the women lived at higher altitudes; a significant factor in a mountainous country such as Ecuador

The women answered the questions to assess how they coped with life stressors during the menopausal years. The results indicated that the more positive factors women had in their lives, the better they were able to bounce back from the challenges of menopause.

Women who scored lower on the resilience scale tended to be overweight (the larger waist measurements), have little or no libido or partner for intimate relations, and lived at the higher altitudes. This last point may or may not indicate how thinner air at higher levels affects heart and lung health and could possibly affect hormonal function. But one thing is clear. Women who see themselves as stronger are more likely to overcome their struggles with menopause, or see menopause in a more positive light.

Our sisters in Ecuador are helping us to learn that the more we can take control of our menopause, the better we will be for it. There are no quick fixes or magic gimmicks to make menopause smooth sailing. But with the right combination of medical research, and a healthy dose of optimism, there are better years ahead as we make our way through this life transition.

Take the test! Visit http://www.resiliencescale.com/en to learn more. You can take the test online or print and answer the questions on paper. Then share the results with your healthcare provider.

“Resilience during the menopausal transition of Ecuadorian women” Aguirre Wellington (EC) – SECLIM – Peter Chedraui, Faustino R. Perez-Lopez, Nalo Martinez, Octavio Miranda, Hugo Sanchez, Gino Schwager, Jorge Navarez, Juan C. Quintero, Branly Zambrano, Research Group for the Sociedad Ecuatoriana de Cliameterio y Menopausia (SECLIM), Ecuador as presented at the 13th World Congress on Menopause, Rome, 2011.

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