Menopause: A Celebration of Life

Manila Bulletin, May 4, 2004 | Go to article overview

Menopause: A Celebration of Life


Byline: J.A. RAMIREZ

Menopause is a universal and irreversible part of the overall aging process involving a woman's reproductive system, after which she no longer menstruates. At the same time, it is a daunting word, to any woman approaching the age of 45 and above. To a husband, a daughter and a son, it is a dreaded period of time when the wife/mother becomes grouchy, irritable and oftentimes sickly.

To the outside world, menopause is a signal of a wrongfully perceived end, a woman's final journey to a life of less excitement perhaps, a period of uselessness. To a lot of women, it may cause anxiety and fear.

Menopause has been called the silent passage, but as depicted in Menopause: The Musical it is anything but silent. The local staging produced by Bahaghari Productions and The Music Museum is loud, brassy, bawdy, wickedly satiric, and absolutely hilarious, but it's also an affirming celebration of life, at least of that part of life experienced by women of a certain age, and a powerful reminder that finding humor in tribulation is a fine way to cope.

"Menopause is a three-stage transition in a woman's reproduction cycle. A woman's menses or period comes to an end, and she loses her ability to reproduce," explains Dr. Ching Ilao Oreta of St. Luke's Medical Center.

According to Dr. Oreta, pre-menopause is the first-stage of the transition. During this stage, which usually onsets five years prior to menopause, the ovaries begin to produce lower amounts of estrogen. The second-stage is called Menopause, when the ovaries are completely depleted of eggs, the estrogen levels plummet to an all time low, thereby unable to produce a period. Lastly, there is post-menopause, the final-stage of menopause when a woman has gone a full cycle of 12 months without a period, it can be said that she is in final stage of menopause. No longer are the ovaries able to produce sufficient amounts of estrogen; however, male hormones, called androgens, are produced.

This writer doubt if there have been other musicals created for a more specific group than Menopause: the Musical. For a back grounder, the story progresses along four women, all of whom are experiencing menopause. These women run into each other in New York City's Bloomingdale's department store and start out by scrapping over wispy bits of underwear, arguing over the discovery of a sexy black bra (which turns out none of them could possibly fit into), until they kept on bumping into each other on different floors and in different departments, slowly forming a friendship that would last for one and a half hours of pure musical entertainment. As they do this, they deliver one funny, knowing line after another, and sing 23 pop classics with new and pertinent lyrics substituted for the old. A good example (to the tune of "Heat Wave"): I'm having a hot flash/ A tropical hot flash/ My personal summer is really a bummer/ I'm having a hot flash/ Comes on like a car crash /No warning just hot flash/ Outside it is nippy, but I'm hot and drippy/ I'm having a hot flash

THE CHANGE "The most common reason a woman presents at menopause is because of symptomatic hot flashes," renders Dr. Oreta.

Flashes, or flushes, which are unpredictable in onset and sometimes occur over many years, are reported in about 75 percent of women who are perimenopausal or postmenopausal. Hot flashes often cause embarrassment and discomfort, as well as sleep disturbances and emotional liability, especially if they are intense and occur frequently. Vasomotor episodes usually last a few minutes. Episodes vary in frequency from every hour to every few days.

"A woman who flushes to the extent that she has major sleep disturbances may also complain of cognitive or affective disorders resulting from sleep deprivation. The vasomotor flush is described as a feeling of warmth or heat that begins from the umbilical area and moves upward toward the head, followed by sweating of the head and upper body. …

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