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Talking about the menopause: symptoms, support and the role of exercise
Talking about the menopause: symptoms, support and the role of exercise

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5.1 Gender roles

Unlike their parents and grandparents, many menopausal women may have lived their adult lives as modern women with the opportunities this brings, and also the expectations and pressures. This means they have taken the opportunities brought by the freeing of women from their traditional roles as wives and homemakers to work, earn and pursue self-realisation in a way that their forebears couldn’t have dreamed of. At the same time, however, research has shown that it is usually women who take on the lion’s share of the ‘domestic engineering’ involved in building a happy home and family life.

This builds stress not only because of the amount of time spent working, whether in jobs or at home, but also in the mental strain imposed by this kind of lifestyle. An individual might be stressed by a working role and the weight of responsibility for actions and decisions taken, while at the same time having to make a mental shopping list for that night’s dinner, wondering how to fit in taking an ageing parent to a hospital appointment, and worrying about whether their teenage child is being bullied, developing an eating disorder or experiencing exam stress. In addition, time to see friends may have been impossible to find, and lack of social interaction can cause feelings of isolation and stress. Add in the time constraints on every day, and many in menopause find they have no time for themselves. In this situation, stress builds and has no release mechanism.