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Katarina Wilk

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Climacteric – A Confusing Word

What do you think of when you hear the word climacteric? Do you know when it starts and ends and is it something you look forward to? I am willing to guess that your answer to the first question is: around 50 when women’s period disappears.  And to the second one you are likely to reply: no, not really. Time to set the records straight.

In some way the word itself feels like something sticky, something boring and gray. That’s how I felt anyways and for myself sticky and gray mean there is something with the very word itself that feels so incredibly unappealing and sad. I know that there are FB groups where women share their experiences but often the names of those groups include the word “climacteric”. I think the groups would be much more popular if they left that word out of the name. We want to support and help each other but creating a self-help group with the word climacteric doesn’t exactly open the welcome doors for women in their mid-30’s and 40’s to join. Again, we’ve missed the younger group of women in this discussion.

When I started researching Perimenopower, I realized that climacteric is a very contested word, even internationally. Already in 1999, the International Menopause Society, an international association for gynecologists / obstetricians, tried to remove the word “climacteric” as a medical term. The proposal did not go through and it was left in place. Although, that said, it isn’t used very often anymore.

So I thought I would clarify what these various terms mean. One of the reasons why so many women are misdiagnosed (which I will tell you more about in the future) is because of a misunderstanding of how early this process can and does start.

Climacteric, in my opinion, is an umbrella term about the middle-aged stage of a woman’s life. These are the terms used internationally and that I use in my books under the climacteric period:

Perimenopause – the time before a woman will stop having her period. It can start in your 40’s, and in some cases at 35 plus.

Menopause – 12 months after having your last period. The average age is about 51.

Postmenopause – the time after menopause.

All these stages belong to what is known as the climacteric period, but the misunderstanding is that we believe that climacteric is the same as menopause. However climacteric is not a time, it is a period. And menopause is a stage, not a period.

So. Now we have the terms right. Hope you’re following me so far. It will be so much easier to keep up with my logic going forward if you understand what climacteric actually means.

This is a guest post. Any opinions expressed are the writer’s own.

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