New scare for urban women: Menopause in 20s

Sharing this link to share the reactions it elicited.

New scare for urban women: Menopause in 20s

A five-year long study conducted by Sattvam, a city-based care centre for women and children, found that 432 of the 980 women covered entered menopause in the age group of 30-35 years, while 216 were between 35-40 years age. The centre has also treated 68 women, who entered menopause in the age group of 25-30 years, while 264 women were above 40 years of age.

“What is worrying is that 42% of these women are working women….”

(Note: ‘Working women’ here probably means only the ‘earning’ women, or women who are paid for the work they do.)

Women’s negligence of their reproductive responsibilities seems to have offended many. Many have ‘solutions’ to offer.

Here’s one comment:

“Being modern is fine, but getting carried away by media and abusing their body with alcohol and smoking (and many other modern ways) is making overly advance women unfit for producing kids.. very rightly so.”

Women in Indian villages didn’t smoke bidi or drink? They did and still do. Also, many women in the past, stopped having any children in their thirties (without use of contraception), some never had any children, for which they were stigmatized. So really not sure how modern is ‘early menopause’.

Another reaction:

“Decide GREED versus Life. What to choose when and by how much % and where you draw the line”

So those who think women should not choose the GREED of self reliance and career over motherhood, do they then support joint ownership of whatever a couple makes during the marriage and joint parenting? [Should couples’ assets be treated as joint property?]

How else does the society ensure that marriage (and homemaking, motherhood etc) does not result in women becoming financially dependent on their husbands?

Some comments blame women for ‘going against nature’.

“This is result of not following natural laws and going against nature. In modern time, every body is subject to tension, work pressure, frustration, irregular food, fast food,in adequate sleep,dissatisfaction, haste of urban life…”

What is ‘natural’ or stress-free about traditional Indian semi-forced and early arranged marriages, where women are expected to produce male heirs within a year (so that the family-name-of-the-husband is carried forward)? Arranged marriages which are forced, semi-forced or coerced (with emotional blackmail etc) are not ‘natural’ either.

So much of concern for women’s reproductive health, by those who would be outraged if women attempted to give their own names to the children they bear. (Often women don’t have names of their own to give).

What about women who do not smoke, drink, try to be independent or ‘overly advance’ and who do have many children? What has patriarchy got to offer them?

Feodor Vassilyev: The Russian Who Sired 87 Children in 35 Births.

“Feodor is apparently notable enough for a Wikipedia article because his wife sets the record for the most children birthed by a single woman. Just to reiterate, it is Mr. Vassilyev and not Mrs. Vassilyev who is deemed notable enough to have a Wikipedia article here!” Do we realize how patriarchy controls and claims ask rights on women’s bodies and reproductive healths? [Read the entire post here: Feodor Vassilyev: The Russian Who Sired 87 Children in 35 Births]

Related Posts:

1. How can the society ensure that marriage (and homemaking) does not result in women becoming financially dependent on their husbands?
2. How are mothers treated in Patriarchal cultures?
3. Society benefits immensely from childbearing, child rearing, and care giving work that currently goes unpaid.
4. “I waited for maternal love to overcome me – it didn’t… After my baby was born, I didn’t feel anything…”
5.Mere consent to conjugal rights does not mean consent to give birth to a child for her husband.
6. An email: Is it selfish to not want to be parents yet?
7. Woman you are not doing anybody a favour…
8. An email: “I find it very hard to forgive my husband for all that happened at the time of my delivery.”
9. Cabinet clears bill: Equal rights in Marital property, Easier divorce.
10. When a newly married Indian woman gives up her career, what else does she give up?
11. An email: “She is considering having an abortion without telling her husband about it.”
12. An update: “My friend is having the baby because her mother absolutely refused to support her decision to abort.”

50 thoughts on “New scare for urban women: Menopause in 20s

  1. Another bogus ‘scientific’ article. I don’t know if people realize how silly they sound when they use the ‘going against nature’ argument. Technically, using electricity, cooking on electric/gas appliances, cancer treatments, wasting time writing ridiculous articles on the internet instead of hunting/gathering food etc, are all going ‘against nature.’

    This also reminds me of the ridiculous propaganda about birth control pills spread by the Catholic church. A friend of mine was convinced that taking BCPs would eventually lead to infertility. She ended up having two abortions.

    I think there was another article on this site about how women shouldn’t play cricket like boys because they might misplace their uterus and be ‘ruined’ forever. How would the same argument not apply to boys/men? One hit to the family jewels by the super hard cricket ball may very well lead to life long impotency.

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  2. Reproductive rights are a huge grey area in India and despite a lot of noise being made about women’s equality,issues like choice of a sexual partner,sexual orientation,when to have a baby or have one or not in the first place are still questions most women decide to leave unanswered.

    It is not surprising that like everything else the blame of not procreating is shifted on to the woman.She is expected to produce a child preferably a male child as and when the husband and the in-laws demand and most think this is how things should be,this is the norm,and the worst is that as has been rightly pointed out that the child for all legal mumbo-jumbo and silly ritualistic beliefs belongs to the father and his family.Rightly so most conventional families would say,how can incubators claim any rights on the baby,even if they are human?

    When men and their families claim complete possession of the progeny why do they blame the woman for producing a girl despite all scientific evidence that its the father’s chromosomes that determine the gender?

    Why doesn’t any body talk about alcohol related abuse in the same vein ,because most victims are women and children there.How about cancers and other health issues due to passive smoking? How about men who have had multiple partners and as a result have passed on HIV to their wives and children?

    Because none of that would be going against nature I suppose.
    This early menopause could be a real health scare caused due to lifestyle and environmental changes but so are hundreds of other things,Why blow everything concerning women out of proportion,just to justify oppression and propagate the status quo of patriarchy?

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  3. I had seen this article IHM and was appalled at their reporting, their article has no basis at all.

    Sample the statement
    “What is worrying is that 42% of these women are working women….”

    It should rather be ..
    “What is worrying is that 58% of these women are non-working women….”

    42% is surely less than 58% , then why is the worrying being done on the wrong side?

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  4. Pingback: Feodor Vassilyev: The Russian Who Sired 87 Children in 35 Births | Impressions

  5. You know, as the other blogger points out, it scared me too when I first read it. But there are many more issues here. From the way the piece has been written, this is something some gynecs have ‘reliably’ told the reporter. And this is where I have an issue. From my own personal experience I can say that visits to a gynec for single women are not easy in this country. You have to go through an immense amount of scrutiny about your sexual choices or lack thereof and also many of them end up giving you a morality lecture. I have had this happen to me and a friend. Also one of the first few questions they ask you is your age and relationship status, of course, for medical reasons, but after you have revealed them, the ‘advice” they give is not entirely medical.

    But if lifestyle is the issue, where is the talk about andropause? Where is the talk about men’s biological clock, because science has, atleast in the West, identified that there is such a thing too. Afterall, even men eat, drink, have the same junk food.

    If fertility and marriage are so important, why are only women being scared into it? Why is no one scaring the men? And why is there a sell by date for women once their fertility runs out? Are we not individuals beyond it?

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  6. If the article is to be believed, 58% non -working women are entering menopause early. So all the non-working women, please go for work (homemakers just eat and sleep whole day na ?) if you want to avoid entering menopause early🙂

    ‘A five-year long study conducted by Sattvam, a city-based care centre for women and children, found that 432 of the 980 women covered entered menopause in the age group of 30-35 years, while 216 were between 35-40 years age. The centre has also treated 68 women, who entered menopause in the age group of 25-30 years, while 264 women were above 40 years of age.’

    Duration of study – 5 years only?
    Do we have any statistics / study on women who entered menopause at early age before ‘urbanization’ happened? How do we know ‘traditional village’ women did not reach menopause early ? They were married at 12-13 yrs, delivered 10-15 kids by the time they reached 25-30 yrs. After that no kids, even without I pil or condoms, how ?
    How many DILs were abused and labeled ‘baanj’. There were no fertility centers, no tests, no statistics. Men just left them and married another to get their khandhan ka waris.

    Study conducted by Sattvam, a city-based care centre for women and children?
    Sample Population- only 980 – only the women who visited the clinic
    Who would visit the centre – those who had gynaecology related issues.
    City based centre- who visited the centre? – mostly urban woman

    So how can a study of 980 women, who visited a city based speciality centre for women and children, for the duration of five years, speak for the billions of women in the world ?

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  7. has no one thought that maybe all the stress that “working women” are under is because they don’t have adequate support sytems in place?

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  8. Which peer-reviewed journal have these findings been published in? This is a biased survey conducted in one city by one organization which has not even posted its data or methodology. This newspaper article is irresponsible journalism at its worst. In fact, I’m not sure if we should even call this journalism. The facts resemble the readings we used to fudge in the Physics lab when we knew the answer but the experiment didn’t confirm it. Articles like these are the reason I stopped reading ToI

    Secondly, look at the nature of the comments. Premature menopause is a very serious issue that has a massive impact on the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of a woman. It has to do with more than just *endlessly producing babies* but if there was a way for menopausal women to produce babies, no one would care about menopause at all. Look at the comments, it’s victim blaming again. Self righteous folks who have no ovaries or uterus (or other important parts either, evidently) but have decided the best way for women to lead their lives. Hint: it involves staying home sari-clad, pregnant, and uneducated.

    Forget about the comments. Look at the opening case. She’s about to *get married*. Ooh! Look everyone! A woman who ends up becoming defective goods right before getting married because she has been living the evil modern life. All ye Urban-women-who-form-about-50%-of-this-rag’s-readership, are you scared yet?

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  9. About 10yrs ago I partook in a UNICEF preliminary study involving premature ovarian failure and or premature menopause in Indian women.
    What we were finding was an alarming rate of Indian women suffering not only premature menopause but also osteoporosis, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and gall bladder disease at an early age. (Signs of premature aging.)
    (The average age for the onset of menopause is 51 yrs worldwide.)
    Both urban and rural women were screened, 15 yrs through 50 yrs, genetic factors were present in only a small percentage of women.
    Overwhelmingly the causative factor seemed to be chronic poor nutrition and chronic physical stress (hard labor- think farmhands and brick kiln workers.)
    Long standing nutritional deficits in both the women suffering premature menopause as well as prenatal nutrition of their mothers looked to be indicative of the problem.
    As I recall the incidence of premature menopause was about the same in urban women as well as rural women.
    However, illiterate women suffered premature menopause at a rate of about 20% while women holding a graduate degree suffered a rate of only around 10% (as I recall)
    There are several studies ongoing at present to investigate this issue.
    We probably won’t know for sure for another few years.
    In the meantime, take a multi vitamin/multi mineral ladies!
    Eat your veggies!
    Milk does a body good!
    Start’em young!
    Remember you are born with all the ‘eggs’ you’ll ever have, and you keep building bones til you are 26yrs!
    I really wish the Indian gov’t would get it’s act together & ‘fortify’ rice & milk with B vitamins & iron- what a cheap way to make a HUGE difference in the health of women and children in India.

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  10. Here lemme give TOI and our respectable gynaecs the finger here by telling you my story. I was told that I have premature menopause at 23. I was put on birth control pills so that my bones don’t get depleted of calcium. Which, is an issue if there’s no oestrogen. 2 years later, on a whim almost, I stopped taking those pills. It helped that I didn’t have a partner at that time.
    Then the ‘miracle’ happened. My natural oestrogen levels got back up and now I have more regular and normal cycles than I had even before my ‘menopause’. The difference? I am in the same profession. Under more stress not less. I had lost a lot of weight at 23 due to an illness and the body’s fat reserves were seriously compromised. As soon as the body fat became normal, things fell into place. Now, let’s look at this scientifically. An emaciated, malnourished woman in the village (because hey, she’s a woman, our ‘culture’ doesn’t let us feed her nourishing food at proper meal times, her brothers need it when she’s at home, and her family-in-law and/or her husband and sons need it when she’s at her sasural) would also reach ‘menopause’ if she couldn’t recover from her illness.
    Let’s talk some science shall we, ladies, with our gynaecs and ‘science’ journos from now on.

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    • Word. The “premature menopause” referred to in this “scientific” article is Amenorrhea.

      http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/guide/absence-periods

      Amenorrhea.is reversible with lifestyle changes.

      I could write a whole series of blog posts about the importance of proper nutrition and adequate exercise, but the most important (in my opinion) are:

      1 – Eating “real food” which loosely translates to plants and animals sans chemicals (Michael Pollan’s book “In Defense of Food” is a great read)
      2 – Supplementing Omega 3 (cod liver oil, flax seeds don’t really work that well) and keeping the body’s omega 3/omega 6 ratios in balance.
      3 – Either supplementing Vitamin D, or spending time out in the sun.
      3 – Adequate Magnesium and other trace minerals in diet. Magnesium is especially important for women, since it plays a part in calcium absorption.
      4 – Exercises with “impact”. Running, jumping rope, jumping jacks, etc. I solemnly swear that these won’t dislodge your uterus.
      5 – Enough fats in the diet, especially saturated fat (yes, I really said that! Taubes debunks the “lipid hypothesis” in his book “Good Calories, Bad Calories”, another good, if mildly tedious, read) Coconut oil (unrefined) is especially great for balancing hormones. Cholesterol is a hormone too, and a very important one at that!

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    • @ Rakhi,

      You were obviously misinformed that you had a premature menopause. It was rather a case of secondary amenorrhea (absence of normal menstrual cycles).

      Menopause is not a ‘switch-off’ event that happens suddenly. It is a gradual process that may even take years to complete. It is slow in some while quicker in others. During the process, the female hormones start receding from their normal body levels. This happens because of the ovaries finally exhausting their physiological capacity. As estrogen is mainly secreted by the ovaries, it’s level starts to decrease. And menstruation ceases as there is no more cyclical variation in the level of the hormones.

      Since you had lost weight, the estrogen was bound to decrease as estrogen is a product of fat. So, once you regained your weight after recovering from your illness, the hormonal balance was restored. There was not really a ‘miracle. Any malnourished woman would run the risk of going into amenorrhea due to hormonal imbalance. But actual menopause occurs only when the ovaries have finished working.

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      • Kay, I am aware of all of these things now. And I put miracle within quotes and also menopause within quotes.😀 It’s meant to be taken with a pinch of salt.
        Yes but a 23 year old me was pretty shocked to hear what the doctors had to say. But I guess, my general blase look on everything in life helped me get over their ‘Oh you are done for’ attitude.
        Herein, I wanted to ask this. How many of you have suffered definite mental agony due to doctors giving you doomsday theories regarding your body when simple lifestyle changes and giving yourself time to heal would have done the trick? I am asking this because I am a very rational person who likes to take responsibility for my own life. But time and time again, I have been completely turned off by how doctors treat me as a patient. Is it just my perception or have other people also faced this?

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        • i too feel that doctors here do very poor job in making patients aware. i guess they don’t have time and i suspect neither inclination.Also scaring the patients is a very good strategy to cover loopholes in their diagnosis…

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    • err, the above ‘kay’ isn’t me but that’s definitely Amenorrhea and not early onset menopause! Which makes me wonder how accountable are doctors/medical institutions in India? If someone makes a drastically wrong diagnosis, can one take the doctor to court?

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    • I’m not going to argue for or against this article – but why is something detrimental to males good news for feminists? Do you realize what a feminist means? It’s someone who believes in the same fundamental rights for women as everyone else. I know lots of men who believe in equal rights. A feminist is any sensible human being, man or woman, old or young, from any culture or country that wants everyone to be treated the same humane way and given the same opportunities.

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    • You seem to have a number of misunderstandings:

      1) Feminism is about wanting equal rights for women and men. Look it up. When someone else gets the rights that you have had all along, it does not mean you are being attacked or persecuted.

      2) As an indian feminists (and seriously, we’re not one group, it’s a thought process not a cult, stop generalising), I have nothing against men. I have something against misogynists and patriarchs who insist on maintaining a gender hierarchy and resist equality. There are misogynistic men and women, it is not gender dependent.

      You see, the whole point is that as a feminist, I see gender as irrelevant. I don’t care if someone is a man or a woman, everyone deserves equal rights and opportunities. Wanting men to die out is completely the opposite of not caring about gender.

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  11. The Wiki article on menopause states that, “Postmenopausal Indian women can enter Hindu temples and participate in rituals, marking it as a celebration for reaching an age of wisdom and experience.”

    No wonder traditional rural Hindu Indian women had to depend on others for the sake of wisdom and experience. Its great that urban women who are achieving an earlier menopause because of their modern lifestyle achieve wisdom early too.😀

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  12. There are many articles in same newspaper bemoaning rising male infertility and linking it to stress in the IT industry. You will see similar reactions to the ones seen on this article’s comment section, blaming greed and modern lifestyle. I don’t see why this is any different. It is not a reaction reserved especially for Indian women.

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  13. A scientific study generally follows certain steps
    – starts with an objective question – I don’t see one
    – the question usually leads to a hypothesis – none given
    – the hypothesis is tested using a representative, random (no clear pattern), non-biased sample – that is clearly missing here
    – a comparative sample is used against the benchmark set by the normative data – again missing
    – inferences are then drawn by removing any remaining biases in the results due to skewing by outliers
    Passing this off as a ‘scientific’ study is irresponsible and seems to be the latest gimmick in packaging preconceived notions as ‘facts’.

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  14. This supposedly scientific article forgets that a man too, has a role in the reproduction. And because of the urban and fast lifestyle, the strength of the sperm has gone down considerably. (not making this up, but I read a paper somewhere and many of my family members are gynaecologists, who can vouch for this!). It is true that a fast paced, hectic lifestyle makes you more vulnerable to many things like weight gain, PCOS, stress, depression BUT, it is afterall in your hands how much you take care of yourself. And this applies to both men and women. A healthy offspring is formed from TWO healthy adults and not by a man and a healthy woman. And how about the urban men also start sharing the housework so that the women are left with some time to breathe and take care of their health?! I do feel women who work in jobs are getting more stressed out because along with the jobs, they have to manage the household chores and kids (and in many cases ILs) too. So, the solution to this is NOT for women to stop chasing their dreams and go live in villages, but for the family members to pitch in equally and share the load and get out of the man’s job-woman’s job stereotype.
    My husband and I both work almost equal hours but both of us share all the household chores (no help in US) including the cooking etc. And this arragement leaves both of us free time to exercise, spend time on our hobbies and with each other and in effect making us healthier and happier individuals.

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  15. So, a fertility clinic with vested interests does a biased study with undeclared methods, finds that 52% non-working women and 48% working women are hitting early menopause, and TOI and it’s commenters imply that this is because of having careers? That doesn’t make sense even if you believe their study!

    Considering that the split between working and non-working women was half and half, the only logical inference can be that having a job had no significant impact. The obvious conclusion would be to look at other possible causes (like malnutrition, feeding daughters less than sons, women eating last, high rates of anaemia in indian women). One can’t really expect TOI and it’s commenters to think logic and look at the evidence. Oh no! God forbid they miss a half-baked chance to spout their nonsense!

    To nonsense like:

    ““Being modern is fine, but getting carried away by media and abusing their body with alcohol and smoking (and many other modern ways) is making overly advance women unfit for producing kids.. very rightly so.””

    This random person will now decide what is and isn’t ok for women to do? It doesn’t even occur to him that ‘overly advanced’ women might not even want kids. In fact, ‘overly advanced’ women in India are probably from affluent backgrounds and less at risk than the poor shrivelled working class women. If there were only men like this left in the world, I would have inferred early menopause to be a suicide attempt by humankind to not propagate his kind.

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  16. How can Wikipedia be patriarchal? It’s open source…anyone can edit it!

    Sure…Wikipedia has some quirks, but surely you will admit its a fantastic knowledge resource. You used it too! And the vast majority of geeks who spent their time collecting and organizing info for other people (with ZERO recognition) were MALES. It seems very few females are willing to volunteer their time to create a free knowledge database for the whole world.

    How could this possibly be men’s fault?

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    • //How could this possibly be men’s fault?//

      Patriarchal gender bias is not men’s fault or women’s fault, it’s an evil system, and most of don’t even realise in how many ways we are affected by it. One way to fight it is to know and to understand how it affects each one of us. And that’s what many feminists do.
      Would you like to comment on the article? Do you see it as fair that ‘it is Mr. Vassilyev and not Mrs. Vassilyev who is deemed notable enough to have an article’? Do compare this to how mothers are blamed for bearing girl children in most places.

      And feminism is not men versus women, the way I see it, it is human rights, justice, equality, freedom, opportunities for all.

      Fully agree that Wikipedia is awesome.

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      • I agree. When you want to blame, then it’s the woman who’s the target. But when you want to applaud, it’s the man! For what? Producing enough sperm while The woman who carried so many children and delivered child after child is banished to anonymity? Mind you, there’s no name either. Just Mrs. Vassilyev.

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  17. I just read the original article, and this thought jumped out and smacked me in the face. The girl whom the article leads off with was getting married. Marriage and all its accompanying hungama causes shitloads of stress. Stress which impacts on the menstrual cycle. Plus, most brides want to look slim and ethereal (god bless M&B and bollywood) on their wedding day. So maybe she was on a strict diet = reduced nutrition = changes in the menstrual cycle. Aren’t anxiety, mood swings and sleepless nights a part of the stress syndrome? Were all these considered before the “diagnosis” of menopause? Just curious…

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