Predicting Adjustment To The Female Menopause

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




In the present work the author attempted to unravel which of several demographic, psychological, and social factors are salient in affecting a woman's functioning in her menopausal years using a general multivariate design. Two hundred forty-two Caucasian, middle-class women, aged 42 to 61 years, filled out and returned several self-report questionnaires selected and designed to assess 28 factors comprising the independent variables. The dependent measure was a checklist of 45 psychological and somatic symptoms, rated for severity on a four-point scale.Characteristics predicted to be associated with a poor menopausal adjustment included the following: a previous history of poor psychological adjustment, a relatively large number of negatively experienced recent life events, a traditionally "feminine" self-image, constricted social roles (i.e., homemaker versus full or part time worker, nonstudent versus student), and premenopausal or menopausal status versus regularly menstruating or postmenopausal status.Contrary to expectations, there were no differences on the dependent variable between unemployed and working women or between nonstudents and students. Assessment of subjects' social role satisfaction would likely have added clarity to these findings. Results also showed that the "empty nest syndrome" is not universal, and further research directed towards the effects on the marital relationship once children leave home might be fruitful.By far, the one factor which provided the most predictive information on how a woman adjusts to her menopausal years was her previous level of functioning. Women who reported having experienced relatively high levels of symptomatology during their late thirties were more likely to report relatively high symptom levels at the time they participated in the study. While less significantly predictive than earlier coping abilities, the number of reported negatively experienced recent events also related to adjustment during the menopausal years in the expected direction. As a mid-life event, menopause itself was not significantly related to a woman's psychological functioning. This finding as well as the relatively small percentage of severely disturbed women (7%) help to dispel the "menopausal myth", and place the menopause in a more appropriate perspective, as one of many life changes which occur during the middle years.


Psychology, Clinical

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