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"Unfortunately you have gone through the menopause" - everyday sexism?

(42 Posts)
Flingmoo Thu 11-Jun-15 16:21:22

Everyday sexism...? Or am I being oversensitive?

DM is almost 50 and had a fertility/menopause test to find out if she's going through the menopause as she has been suffering from anxiety and wondered if that might be the cause. The GP called and told her "unfortunately" the test results show she is post menopausal. DM was baffled as she is certainly not intending on trying for a baby and didn't know why it's such "unfortunate" news...

I guess he was trying to be sympathetic but it annoys me that he made the assumption this would require sympathy? If anything, it's good news for her. If he'd looked at her medical file surely it would be clear that she had the test for a reason other than wanting to conceive?

I do understand some women might be hoping to conceive and the doctor has to be sensitive to their feelings, but isn't it really sexist to assume a natural part of womanhood is bad news, as if being post-menopausal means you're suddenly out-of-date? In case you can't tell, I was a bit miffed when she told me about all this.

Is this what I have to look forward to myself in 20 or so years time? 'Poor you, isn't it a shame you're no longer young and fertile?"

MurielWoods Thu 11-Jun-15 16:27:49

Erm, you are massively overthinking it.

I very much doubt that the doctor was concerned about her fertility.

He (if it was a he) was probably trying to be sympathetic regarding the onslaught of symptoms that can often accompany the menopause (anxiety, flushes, mood swings, exhaustion, loss of libido, increased risk of osteoporosis, heart disease etc)

Even in the complete absence of these symptoms or the desire to have more children, the diagnosis of menopause can still be a shock.

BabyGanoush Thu 11-Jun-15 16:30:31

You are being silly

He probably meant sorry in the sense that what he had thought might be the cause wasn't and that he still didn't know what was.

StonedGalah Thu 11-Jun-15 16:34:24

How is that sexist confused

You are massively over thinking how this was delivered to your DM. I bet if he'd said 'good news! you're through the menopause' you'd start a thread in FM berating that too.

SenecaFalls Thu 11-Jun-15 16:44:07

I think it could definitely be sexist and ageist. It's a natural progression of womanhood. It's symptoms can be difficult for a while, but I doubt that was what the doctor was referring to.

AuntieStella Thu 11-Jun-15 16:50:41

As you say it was a 'fertility/menopause' test, then I can see why it was put in those terms. Had there been no fertility test, it would be quite different.

SurelyNotEh Thu 11-Jun-15 16:52:18

I know exactly what you mean and I agree with you. It's simply a fact, there was no need for him to make a value judgement about it.

Flingmoo Thu 11-Jun-15 17:03:37

Okay, fair enough. I take your points.

But isnt it a bit similar to saying "unfortunately you've started your period"...? Making a bit of an assumption? Periods are terrible for some women, while for others they are an appreciated aspect of womanhood.

Nevertheless I do understand this is not a big deal, don't get me wrong, I'm not about to make a formal complaint or anything...! I know it's a minor thing. It was just one of those things that I felt a bit hmm about.

aintgonnabenorematch Thu 11-Jun-15 17:06:45

Over - thinking it.

SquigglyLine Thu 11-Jun-15 17:07:32

I understand your point. There is nothing 'unfortunate' per se about menopause and there is a certain sexism to suggesting there is.

But I agree with the poster who said the doctor may have meant 'unfortunately we can't put your anxiety down to being menopausal as you have already gone through the menopause' i.e. we can't hope it will go away afterwards.

Exactly, she was being tested to find out if the menopause was what was causing the anxiety, therefore it's unfortunate that she's post-menopausal because if it had been that there may have been options such as HRT. With this result they are no further on with finding out the cause.

SenecaFalls Thu 11-Jun-15 17:28:27

I am a bit confused. Isn't it still possible to experience some of the symptoms of going through menopause when one is technically postmenopausal? OP, was this diagnosis confirming your DM's suspicions about her anxiety being menopause related?

AnyFucker Thu 11-Jun-15 17:30:45

I don't see this at all

PoppyShakespeare Thu 11-Jun-15 17:33:22

it is a bit of a weird thing for a Dr to say but we don't really celebrate age and wisdom or experience in our culture do we?

SenecaFalls Thu 11-Jun-15 17:41:34

No, we don't. We especially don't celebrate those things in women.

Flingmoo Thu 11-Jun-15 18:22:47

OP, was this diagnosis confirming your DM's suspicions about her anxiety being menopause related? Yes, without going into too much personal detail, yes it did confirm that. So the "unfortunate" thing and his grave tone still doesn't make that much sense to me. It's just a matter of fact. It's not like the tests revealed some kind of deadly disease confused

If you go to the doctor because you feel sick, and they do a pregnancy test, they wouldn't tend to say "unfortunately you're pregnant", or "congratulations you're pregnant" for that matter... I can't understand why this should be different.

lunar1 Thu 11-Jun-15 18:34:24

The sooner we get Drs replaced with robots the better I say. People are just shit when they can't be all things to all people all of the time.

SenecaFalls Thu 11-Jun-15 18:52:40

OP, I do think you've confirmed the possibility that it was unthinking sexism/ageism that prompted the doctor saying "unfortunately."

It is also possible that because women who have no problems with their menopause don't consult their doctors about it, so for the ones that do consult them it is nearly always causing problems or concerns and therefore requiring sympathy. I have yet to hear anyone in real life say much positive about going through the menopause (and I'm around your mum's age). Those who have it bad talk about it, those who find it straightforward don't even mention it. Same with periods, although I have yet to meet anyone who speaks of them in terms of being an appreciated aspect of womanhood. Anyway, I hope your mother's anxiety problem improves, that's not a nice thing for anyone to suffer with.

MurielWoods Thu 11-Jun-15 20:58:24

I'm going through the menopause now (I'm 43) and I'll tell you what, it has been a fucking horrific experience for me. It has been life changing and not in a good way.

My GP (male) couldn't be more sympathetic and supportive which is a good job really as I would have ripped his sodding gonads off grin

OP I think you are being a daft to be honest!

noddingoff Thu 11-Jun-15 21:18:25

I don't think you are being daft OP.
"Unfortunate" implies that your DM is terribly unlucky.
What awful, terrible luck; sheer horrendous misfortune to accidentally, by an awful twist of fate, go through what 100% of women go through at a similar age.
I know it's only a word, but words describe attitudes.
Attitudes like: game over, too late, throw that one on the scrap heap.
(Nor do I think doctors should adopt the attitude of "Oh well, what d'you expect?" but rather help prepare people for what happens during menopause and help them enjoy the bit that happens next)

PoppyShakespeare Thu 11-Jun-15 21:23:19

it's just our culture isn't it, medicine is only a product of that, stuff that happens to our female bodies is Bad and always means losing something - sexual maturity is loss of innocence, the menopause is loss of fertility/perceived fuckability

nothing natural that happens to us is construed particularly positively I don't think

PoppyShakespeare Thu 11-Jun-15 21:29:51

(have only noticed this since discovering have been slipping through the menopause myself and people have been horrified and sympathetic - but it's not premature and I've had all the children I wanted so am unable to see it as any kind of tragedy. Obviously would be different if I was suffering in any way!)

meditrina Thu 11-Jun-15 21:44:54

As you said 'fertility/menopause' tests, rather than just 'menopause', and as there are women in their late 40s still hoping to conceive, I think it's likely that the 'unfortunately' bit comes from the fertility side of the tests.

I expect most people who see their doctors for fertility testing do not want to hear that there is no chance.

(Though of course for an under 50 to have competed the menopause means 2 years no periods. Which presumably she knew without seeing the doctor.
As its your DM, not you, I realise you cannot post much more without invading her privacy. But this situation really doesn't add up. Either her doctor is incompetent (aside from choice of vocabulary) or she has misunderstood/misreported/misremembered something).

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