A Postmodern Discourse on Distress during the Menopause Transition
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A Postmodern Discourse on Distress during the Menopause Transition


Some women experience symptoms during the menopause transition that cause distress. Due to the heterogeneity of experiences, distress has been difficult to measure. Researchers have examined risk factors such as personality traits, stress, coping, lifecourse, and hormonal sensitivities to explain distress during menopause. The purpose of this narrative analysis study was to explore the experiences of distress for women during the menopause transition, and to examine the experiences of aging.A postmodern feminist framework allowed for individual experiences of distress to unfold within the stories and to view how women adopt positions in prevailing discourses. Narrative analysis methodology facilitated the understanding of individually defined distress and how it reflected shared meanings embedded in Western society. Fifteen women were interviewed in person using open interview techniques and were digitally voice recorded. Interviews were transcribed verbatim to examine use of language such as utterances, tone of voice, and pauses. Data were re-transcribed after the identification of narratives and poetic structures. Themes were analyzed within and across interviews. Coding was conducted to aid in the noting of themes. The women described hot flashes, night sweats, menstrual changes, decreased libido, vaginal dryness, sleep disruption, and others within the context of their lives. The women demonstrated ways of adopting social discourses on menopause and aging that aided or dampened positions of power. Themes identified were of silence, shame, and stigma related to aging and menopause. Some women experienced social withdrawal and alienation. Narratives of chaos, restitution, and quest were analyzed. Loss of control was experienced to be most distressful for some of the women. It is a historical time with many babyboomers reaching the age of menopause and studies cautioning against the liberal use of hormone therapy. Nurses need to understand the contextual meaning embedded in the women's experiences. Alternative models to provide care and reduce alienation, such as group care, is worthy of research. Women need to be advised in how the adoption of social discourse may influence experiences of distress. Further exploration of the meaning of control in women's lives needs to be conducted.

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