It’s My Menopause And I’ve Earned It: Why I Don’t Believe Women Should ‘Evolve’ Out Of Menopause

Women Could Evolve Out Of Menopause

I’m going to be entering menopause soon. I don’t feel melancholy about this. I’m actually excited about aging, and yes, I realize that this goes against every societal norm that is shoved down our throats at any given moment, that women who are older should be lamenting the passing of their youth and that I should be spending my days gazing into hand mirrors and wiping away tears that fall from my crow’s foot embellished eyes. We are supposed to fear getting older and menopause. We are supposed to think that this is the beginning of the end, that with every passing year our value as women and as humans is diminished until we are left forgotten and discarded, our only company the memories of our glorious youth and if we are lucky, a spouse or partner who is celebrated for his age by being referred to as a “silver fox.”

I adore and respect Aarathi Prasad and I find her brilliant and compelling and I have sort of this raging girl crush on her but her recent lecture at the Hay Festival is giving me a whole lot of concern:

Aarathi Prasad, the biologist and science writer, said humans had evolved the menopause so older women can look after young children.

The so-called grandmother hypothesis also argues that older women cannot have children to stop the generations competing with each other.

However this is no longer relevant in a world where older women continue to be healthy and there are resources for everyone. The presenter of Quest for Virgin Birth on BBC Radio 4 said other mammals do not have the menopause and there is ”no benefit” to the condition.

”The mood of scientists working on this and looking to the future is we will either technologically or scientifically evolve out of the menopause.”

”It is a health risk potentially and it is a real inescapable block on reproduction for one half of us the women, but not the men.

”It is something that will probably be overcome.”

Prasad, who was previously a cancer genetics researcher at Imperial College London, said ovarian failure should be treated the same as any other organ failure. She said that women are at greater risk of a number of diseases following the menopause such as breast and ovarian cancer. ”If you look to the future when we live to 100-years-old you are looking at half your life with no ovarian function.”


Now, I can fully see where menopause is a health risk. I can agree that it’s biologically unfair that women have a sell-by date in order for which they can become pregnant. I have no issues with women who choose to become pregnant at a later age. It’s not my business when a woman decides to have children. I know that some women reach early onset menopause and this probably seems like a good idea to those people. But as a woman who is 43 and is sort of looking down the menopause tunnel, I can’t help but feel that trying to “cure” this condition is steering us into some brave new world ageist territory that further glorifies the “forever young” mentality of society. Other than the increased risk of certain forms of cancer, I have no desire to evolve out of my menopause or for science to develop a cure for it – I’ll happily see cures for ovarian and breast cancer but leave my menopause alone.

I’m writing this from the point of view of a woman who has all ready had her children, and who underwent a hysterectomy due to medical complications that stemmed from my own reproductive system’s failures. I have no uterus, so at this point I don’t have to worry about my baby making equipment failing. I may feel differently about all of this if I were interested in having more children. But I feel like “curing” menopause would be doing a huge disservice to those of us who welcome our menopause, and will put additional stress on older women like me who are daily confronted with the idea that in order to be attractive and valuable to this world we need to be young, glistening and fertile. If we never get to reach the milestone of menopause, when will we ever be expected to get a break?

Menopause isn’t a disease. It doesn’t need to be cured. Cancers need to be cured. Having healthy pregnancies at a later age needs to be addressed. If I choose to start hormone therapy in order to alleviate some of the symptoms that go along with menopause  I will welcome science investigating and developing new treatments to go along with the hot flashes and increased urination and dry skin that can accompany it. But the idea of “curing” menopause or the idea that women could evolve out of menopause feels like another way of telling us as women that there is something broken about our bodies when menopause is no more unnatural than puberty. The only difference is that menopause happens to “older” women and is viewed negatively – when the reality of it is other than the increased risks of certain cancers and other conditions it is totally normal. The idea that women could evolve out of menopause feels ageist and sexist to me, because I don’t see science rushing to cure the male mid-life crisis. Yes, we have viagra and cures for thinning hair and prostate cancer screenings, but because there is no technical “male menopause” older men aren’t viewed the same way as older women are, and they can continue reproducing until well into old age even if their sperm rates decrease. Men don’t have this sell-by date.

Not every woman wants to remain fertile at a later age. Not every women is terrified of the prospect of vaginal dryness or night sweats or the other symptoms of menopause. Some women, like me, look forward to menopause because it marks a milestone in our bodies and our lives that signifies how far we have come, and all of the landmarks and memories that have accompanied us through forty-five years or so of being alive. This doesn’t sound like something, for everyone, that we need to develop a cure for.

(Photo: Andrii Kondiuk/shutterstock)

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