Title. Menopause experiences of women in rural areas
Aim. This paper is a report of a study to explore the menopause experiences of women living in rural areas.
Background. The menopausal phase can be physically and emotionally unsettling in a woman’s life. Evidence has shown that a woman’s ability to cope with the stresses of menopause can be enhanced through education and social support, yet there is a paucity of research in relation to the experiences of menopausal women in rural areas, where access to supportive services is often limited.
Method. Naturalistic inquiry was used to explore the experiences of 25 menopausal women who were living in rural areas in Nova Scotia, Canada. Participants were interviewed in focus group and individual sessions, conducted during 2006. Verbatim transcripts of the interviews were analysed using thematic analysis.
Findings. Women living in rural communities described a need to understand fully the intensity of menopause-related symptoms, including changes to their physical and mental wellbeing. Participants described struggling to sift through excessive and conflicting information from a variety of venues and identified a need to receive reliable information from sources they trusted. They described the menopause experience as having a significant impact on their personal relationships and identified social support and humour as their primary coping strategies.
Conclusion. Menopause is a significant life event affecting millions of women globally. Nurses are uniquely situated to provide comprehensive women’s health care and must employ innovative strategies to provide support to women living in rural communities to enhance both health and wellbeing as they transition through menopause and as they age.