Women’s experience of being well during peri-menopause: a phenomenological study

Sandra Mackey

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A research study was conducted to investigate women’s experience of being well during the peri-menopause because much of the research investigating the experience of menopause has concentrated on its problematic and pathological aspects. For the majority of western women the reproductive transition of menopause is not problematic, however, the nature of the unproblematic or healthy menopause has not been investigated. The aim in conducting this research was to enhance understanding of the experience of being healthy or well during menopause. In so doing, recognition of the diversity of menopausal experiences may be strengthened. The research was approached from the disciplinary perspective of nursing, and was grounded in the methodology of Heideggerian interpretive phenomenology. Data was collected via unstructured, in-depth interviews and analysis was conducted utilising the repetitive and circular process developed by van Manen. The phenomenon of being healthy or well during menopause was expressed in the form of three major themes. These were the continuity of menstrual experience, the embodiment of menopausal symptoms, and the containment of menopause and menopausal symptoms. The experience of health and well being during menopause can accommodate the experience of symptoms when the experience of symptoms does not disrupt embodied existence and the continuity of menstrual patterns.Menopause is widely studied, yet only partly understood. While much is now known about the nature and influence of ovarian hormones, the physiology of menopausal changes, and the treatment of menopausal symptoms, little is known and understood about the experience of menopause. Research that has investigated the experience of menopause has largely focused on the problematic experiences. It is now known that the majority of women, regardless of cultural background, do not experience menopause in a problematic way (Utian 1977; Porter, Penney, Russell, Russell & Templeton 19 however, the nature of such experience has not been revealed and it is not known whether this experience of a non-problematic menopause constitutes wellness at menopause.The research reported here aimed to achieve greater understanding of the nature of this experience of menopause, through an investigation of women’s everyday experience of wellness and wellbeing during menopause. Wellness, by its very nature, is an elusive state. It is elusive because it is a non-problematic state, thus difficult to mark out by measurement, events or experiences. In wellness, nothing ‘stands out’ to notice, observe or disrupt as it does in illness (van Manen 1990). Nevertheless, the term wellness describes a particular and recognisable state of being which, in this study, is revealed through interpretative analysis of post-menopausal women’s descriptions of their experiences
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-49
Number of pages11
JournalContemporary Nurse
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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