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THE MENOPAUSE OR CHANGE OF LIFE
Time of Menopause--Cause of Suffering During Menopause--
Reproductive Function and Sexual Function Not Synonymous--
Increased Libido During Menopause--Change of Life in Men.
In the chapter on menstruation I referred briefly to the menopause. I
will consider it here somewhat more in detail.
The menopause, also called the climacteric, and in common language
"change of life," is the period at which woman ceases to menstruate.
The average age at which this occurs is about forty-eight. But while
some women continue to menstruate up to the age of fifty, fifty-two,
and even fifty-five, others cease to menstruate at the age of
forty-five or even forty-two. Between forty-four and fifty-two are the
normal limits. Anything before or beyond that is exceptional.
Just as the beginning of menstruation may set in without any trouble
of any kind, and just as some women have not the slightest unpleasant
symptoms during the entire period of their menstrual life, so the
menopause occurs in some women without any trouble, physical or
psychic. The periods between the menses become perhaps a little
longer, or a little irregular, the menstrual flow becomes more and
more scanty, then one or several periods may be skipped altogether,
and the menopause is permanently established. Many women, however, the
majority probably, suffer considerably during the transitional year or
years of the menopause. Symptoms are both of a physical and of a
psychic character, but the psychic symptoms predominate. There may be
headache, capricious appetite, or complete loss of appetite,
considerable loss of flesh, or on the contrary very sudden and rapid
putting on of fat, great irritability, insomnia, profuse perspiration;
hot flashes throughout the body, and particularly in the face, which
make the face "blushing" and congested, are particularly frequent.
Then the woman's character may be completely changed. From gentle and
submissive she may become pugnacious and quarrelsome. Jealousy without
any grounds for it may be one of the disagreeable symptoms, making
both the wife and the husband very unhappy. In some exceptional cases
a genuine neurosis or psychosis may develop.
=Cause of Suffering During Menopause.= It is my conviction, and I have
had this conviction for many years, that many, if not most, of the
distressing symptoms of the menopause are due, not to the menopause
itself, but to the wrong ideas about this period that have prevailed
for so many centuries. We know the influence of the mind over the
body, and the pernicious effect which wrong ideas may exercise over
our feelings. The generally prevalent opinion among women, and men for
that matter, and not only of the laity but unfortunately of the
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