Life Expectancy and Menopause
While figures for life expectancy vary around the world, for women in more developed countries the numbers have been steadily increasing for the past several decades. Human Resources and Development Canada reported that a female born in 2005 can expect to live on average for 82.7 years. The World Life Expectancy Map compares these figures to Japan at 85.6 years, the United States at 81.1 years, the United Kingdom at 81.5 years, Germany at 82.3years, Sweden at 83.1 years, and Australia at 83.8 years. Unfortunately, our sisters in developing countries still experience lower life expectancy rates though some improvements are being made.
Returning to the link to menopause, more and more women in developed countries can expect to live well into their post menopausal years. Think how life expectancy rates about one hundred years ago for most women were much lower. Men and women did survive beyond their fifties but those were the exceptions. Poor nutrition and lack of health care contributed to shorter life spans. Add to that the additional years that a woman spent in labor, often times experiencing upwards of ten pregnancies in her lifetime. By the time a woman reached her forties or fifties, she was worn out physically and seen as being past her childbearing years. These attitudes about life being at its end carried over in the twentieth century.
Our life expectancies have changed but many of the older attitudes toward menopause remain. Particularly in North America our obsession with youthfulness has led women to feel that menopause is signaling the end. As we continue to adore younger bodies we spurn the grace of women’s bodies in their later stages. We also tend to dismiss the wisdom and insight of older women (and men) preferring instead to see our younger years as the ideal time of life. After that, it’s all downhill from here. It’s not surprising then that menopause has become something of a death knell for women in our mother’s generation. Menopause was a time of mourning.
Today we can take comfort in knowing that attitudes are slowly catching up. The Baby Boom generation has played a large part in discovering that forty is not the end of the line. Yes our bodies will change and adjustments have to be made while we undergo the aging process. But we can age with dignity and grace, taking pride in our accomplishments as younger women, and look forward to the post menopausal years. Medical advances cannot guarantee that our lives will not be without complications, yet we can use our knowledge and turn this time around.
We’re not just getting older, we are getting better - and we are just getting started.
Menopause, Your Doctor, and You
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