You know how we keep hearing that sex ed is really health education, right? They say that Planned Parenthood is about educating young people about their bodies because those mean Christians would keep them in the dark. It isn’t really about promoting sexual abandon, it’s just about letting them have enough information to make their own choices… right?
But if it were really about educating women so that they know their bodies and how they work, where is the information about menopause? We are bombarded with talk about pubic hair and menstruation and liberation from “outdated” morality; but when do we ever hear the realities of what happens to our bodies after menarche?
They tell us how to apply a condom, but they don’t tell us how to tell when we’re fertile. They tell us how to get body-altering hormone treatments when we are not sick, but they don’t tell us about the side effects. They tell us about “all” those changes of our bodies, but they don’t say word one about menopause. Let’s face it, Planned Parenthood and others like them are only interested in teen sexuality, not in the overall sexual health of females.
This is why, when I wanted to learn how to tell when I’m fertile, I had to go to Christian sources and alternative health sources. This is why my state repeatedly tells me they’ll pay for pills for me, but not for a thermometer and a class. And this is why it is darn near impossible to find any information at all about menopause.
When I wanted to find out when it typically happens, it took me months of research to find the answer. Learning about the phases of menopause (and perimenopause) was tougher. They all said “oh, you get hot flashes and mood swings.” But I couldn’t find out for how long, or what is happening inside the body when these things happen. And frankly, maybe it’s because I’m a perimenopausal bundle of hostilities, but it makes me mad that those who get so much credit for caring about women’s health and disseminating information are completely ignoring menopause. I guess there’s no money in those who aren’t getting unwanted pregnancies.
I did finally find my information, though. I finally realized I needed to stop searching for “menopause” and start searching for “menopause” and “nfp.” (That’s natural family planning.) Only then did I find real information beyond hot flashes. And surprise, surprise, most of those promoting NFP are Christians.
I recently bought a couple of books on menopause at a thrift store. I’ve begun reading one of them, and by the end of the first paragraph was already frustrated. That’s the first paragraph of the introduction, mind you. The author said that one of the consolations of menopause is the kids moving out. Please tell me she doesn’t mean I can expect this process to last the next 17 years, till my youngest reaches adulthood. Ok, I know that isn’t what she means. What she means is the same thing most people in the secular world seem to believe: that sex is not related to childbearing.
Let me explain. Sex, or actually fertile sex, is something that is perceived to last long after a woman might realistically have children. Any woman who hits menopause hasn’t had any babies for twenty years. Sure, she’s having sex; but what does that have to do with having babies? People like me, who believe that fertility and parenting go hand in hand, simply aren’t supposed to exist. We contradict the current thinking about the purpose of sex, so we just get ignored. Besides, I suspect we’re believed to be too ignorant to be reading books like this about sexual health, anyway.
I really hope the other book turns out to be better. I’m looking for information, not preconceived notions about the social aspects of middle aged sex and childbearing. (No pun intended.)
I guess I’m ranting more than offering a genuine insight; but I am extremely frustrated. Why is in-depth information so difficult to find? I want to know what to expect as I enter a new phase, as much now as I did when I was twelve. Maybe those who do have information should be a little more forthcoming, and less private about it. It’s just as well I don’t get my information from Planned Parenthood, all things considered. I probably wouldn’t trust it much. But I do wish that NFP and its perspectives on fertility and understanding what the female body is doing were not so closely guarded and reserved for people who can afford classes.