Fertility Awareness for Mature Adults

In natural family planning, we talk about the Peri-menopause as the time around menopause. This includes a few years before or after the cessation of the menstrual period.  Various symptoms may alert women to the fact that they are approaching menopause, such as: hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, mood swings, loss of memory and a lessened desire for sex.  Some women, however, do not feel so sexually inhibited, now that they can no longer bear children.

Menopause is a naturally occurring phenomena experienced by all women in mid-life.  The word menopause literally means "the pause in menstruation".  It is a normal predictable event indicating that a woman's childbearing ability, which was activated at puberty, has ceased to function.  Menopause is a developmental stage of transition in the life of a woman requiring a changed outlook on self, biologically, psychologically and socially.  

For most women this is a liberating experience.  Perhaps they have spent their lives devoted to bringing up their children or have combined homemaking with a busy career.  Now that their children are pursuing their own careers, post-menopausal women are free to follow their own interests alone or with their partners.  For others, however, it can be a stressful time, full of the fears of the culturally unacceptable images of ageing, such as weight gain, loss of fertility and perhaps fear of a late pregnancy, as one’s normally regular menstrual cycle is now so unpredictable.  For these latter women, menopause is seen as a "mid-life crisis".

In the medical world, menopause is regarded by some as an oestrogen deficiency disease as a woman's ovaries stop producing hormones around the age of fifty.  Lack of hormones can be the cause of long term health problems for some women.  These problems can include cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, loss of bone density and incontinence.  But not all women experience these serious effects or the symptoms mentioned above during the peri-menopause and menopause is definitely not a disease.

Women's individual experiences during the peri-menopause are determined by the interaction of the biological, cultural, social, environmental and psychological factors that encompass their everyday lives.  These factors influence how a woman will react in a given situation socially and mentally - particularly so during the mid-life period of transition.

Some women in mid-life may be dealing with rebellious teenagers or children leaving home.  They may be caring for sick or aged family members, coping with physical illness or possible marital stress relating to this mid-life transition period.  Economic worries may result from unemployment, retrenchment and the cost of educating children.   Women have to deal personally with the changes taking place in their own bodies and the adaptation necessary for their future lifestyles in the family, as well as society’s expectations..

A woman is considered to be menopausal if she is over 50 years and has not had a BLEED for 12 months.  

A younger woman who is having irregular or no bleeds, would be wise to consult her doctor, as well as her NFP educator.


Managing fertility at this stage of life

When a woman suspects that her cycles are altering due to menopause, new rules for NFP need to be used.  A woman in the early stage of the peri-menopause is most vulnerable.  Her symptoms indicate that her fertility cycle is changing, but as yet her fertility may not have significantly decreased.  It is, however, on the decline and will continue to wane until it ceases with menopause.

The changes a woman experiences in her cycle patterns are a natural part of the peri-menopausal phase.  It is good to chart these changes and become familiar with what is happening to the body as it progresses through this stage of life.  Once the symptoms of menopause appear, these disturbances will continue until you are post-menopausal.  There is no going back to normal cycles - they are irreversible.

These symptoms are a sign that your fertility is lessening, but that does not mean infertility. 

As your fertility changes, the symptoms may become difficult to recognise.  It is therefore, necessary to look at NFP in a different way.   Your natural fertility educator can help you through this time.

Midlife and the peri-menopause can be a very meaningful time.   


LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR OWN FERTILITY by calling your NFS Educator today.


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