Title. Menopausal symptom experience: an online forum study
Aim. The aim of the study was to explore the menopausal symptom experience of White midlife women.
Background. Recent cross-cultural investigations have indicated important ethnic differences in menopausal symptoms and have challenged the universality of these symptoms. Currently available cultural knowledge on menopausal experience, however, is inadequate to guide appropriate and adequate care even for White women in the menopausal transition.
Method. A cross-sectional qualitative online forum study was conducted in 2007 with 23 midlife women who self-identified as non-Hispanic Whites using convenience sampling. Seven topics related to menopausal symptom experience were used to guide the online forum for 6 months. The data were analysed using thematic analysis.
Results. The experiences of menopause caused women to redefine themselves within their busy daily life schedules. They were optimistic about their symptoms, and tried to laugh at the experience to boost their inner strength and motivate themselves to persevere. Many thought that both generational and life-style differences were much more important than ethnic differences in menopausal symptom experiences. In seeking assistance with the symptoms of menopause, women were not satisfied with the guidance of their physicians.
Conclusion. Nurses need to listen carefully to what women themselves say about their own experiences with menopausal symptoms and avoid imposing predetermined symptom management strategies. Further studies of women’s perceptions of life-style influences are needed to guide symptom management. In addition, studies of generational changes in menopausal symptom experience are needed.