BOSTON — U.S. women have a more positive attitude toward menopause than previously thought, according to a nationwide survey released last week.
"More and more American women are saying they don't regard menopause as such a big deal," said Dr. Wulf Utian, head of the North American Menopause Society, which commissioned the Gallup survey.
The poll of 750 women from ages 45 to 60 showed that slightly more than half, or 52%, viewed menopause as the beginning of a new and fulfilling stage of life.
Almost 80% of those asked by the Gallup Organization said they would advise other women to approach menopause with a positive attitude.
Utian, who is at Case-Western Reserve Medical Center in Cleveland, said he thought the change in attitude had a lot to do with the nature of the baby boomer generation and with its desire for more accurate information.
"The boomers are now approaching 52, and the median age for menopause is 51.3 years, so this is the top of the wave of the postwar generation. And it is a generation that has changed so much in the American way of life," Utian said.
"The previous generation viewed menopause as a negative. These women view it as a positive."
The survey showed women were demanding more information about menopause and hormone replacement therapy as well as about alternative therapies such as diet and exercise.
The telephone survey, conducted from June 25 to July 24, included women who were post-menopausal, women approaching menopause and women who had not yet experienced any changes associated with menopause.
The poll, which had a margin of error of plus or minus five percentage points, found that less than half of those surveyed, or 46%, had taken or were taking hormone replacement therapy to ease physical changes associated with menopause.
It also found that many women considered the information available on hormone replacement therapy conflicting and confusing.
Utian agreed that there was a need for better education.
"Current evidence does not link menopause to an increased risk of cancer," he said, "and studies are still ongoing to determine the relationship between declining estrogen levels and Alzheimer's disease."