There was an article in the Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago, “What if we Could Get Rid of Menopause,” Review, 7/15/23, in which the author discusses the possibility of “getting rid of menopause” through various medical means. The author posits that by doing so, “women might live longer and healthier lives,” and cites several people that are developing drugs and procedures that would delay menopause indefinitely or end it entirely – or at the very least give women the choice as to when they want to go through it.
I can’t be the only person that thinks this is a terrible idea.
Okay, so there are pharmaceuticals – we know about some of them already because we are being force fed HRT at every turn – that will keep our hormone levels equal to that of a 25-year old; now there are drugs and devices being tested (on mice, poor animals) that could extend our fertility and allow us to easily conceive into our 40s and 50s by slowing the aging of our ovaries. Modern medicine is amazing!
Still. There are consequences, even when we don’t know what they are yet. There is a biological reason that a woman’s body stops flooding itself with hormones past a certain point, and it has nothing to do with the patriarchy, as has been suggested ad nauseum on social media. Could it be that too much of a good thing can actually become toxic – that elevated levels of any hormone over an extended period of time is stressful and damaging to internal organs? Or that all the chronic diseases the author lists which typically gain momentum around the same time as menopause – heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, and cognitive decline – are not actually caused by menopause, but are correlated because it takes about 5 decades-worth of certain lifestyle choices to manifest as disease? The answer in both cases is yes.
The author quotes the CEO of one menopause start-up as saying that “we should not normalize menopause any more than we would normalize tooth decay…” but she is conflating the biological fact of menopause with negative health outcomes that you may or may not experience. Tooth decay IS normal – if you don’t prioritize oral health. Nobody would suggest that we remove our teeth in order to avoid tooth decay! Menopause is normal too, and I would argue that we can approach it in a way that eliminates any negative aspects by prioritizing whole health in much the same way that brushing our teeth keeps the cavities at bay.
I’m not sure what we gain by any of this. Maybe we can “experience our 30s more like men…” pursuing our careers without worrying about getting married or having a baby as the author suggests. But I would offer that many – maybe even most - women do that already; and without the wake-up call that menopause provides, we miss a perfect opportunity at midlife to reevaluate our health and lifestyle choices in order to stop chronic diseases before they progress past the point of no return.
In any event, trying to trick mother nature is like wearing leggings as pants - a risky enterprise at best. Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you should.