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Health Soc Care Community. 2008 Dec;16(6):565-72. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2524.2008.00777.x. Epub 2008 Mar 27.

A challenge to the menopause stereotype: young Australian women's reflections of 'being diagnosed' as menopausal.

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1
Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia. m.boughton@usyd.edu.au

Abstract

This paper reports on a qualitative study designed to examine (i) possible explanations for difficulties young Australian women (under 40 years) encountered in the process of gaining a diagnosis of premature menopause and (ii) to address issues underpinning this aspect of menopause. Drawing on hermeneutic phenomenology, face-to-face interviews were carried out with 35 women who consented to share their experiences of 'being diagnosed' with premature menopause. The participants responded to an advertisement in a newspaper article, a radio announcement or through a menopause support centre. While all participants were located in Australia, larger numbers were from the metropolitan areas of Sydney, New South Wales, and Perth, Western Australia. This research reports that the process of finding an explanation for the physical and emotional symptoms the women were experiencing was very complex. The findings varied regarding the psychological and physical symptoms experienced, described feelings, and reasons that led to a diagnosis of menopause. This paper suggests that the age of the women and the non-specific symptoms experienced by them contributed significantly to the delay and uncertainty surrounding the experience of being diagnosed with premature menopause. There was uncertainty of the origin of symptoms, which led the women to feel as though they were 'going insane' or that it was 'all in their heads'. This frequently led to symptoms of menopause being attributed (by health professionals) to a psychiatric basis and menopause being overlooked for varying lengths of time.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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