The menopause signals the loss of fertility and brings mixed feelings and emotions for many women, whether they already have children or not. Here women talk about what loss of fertility means to them.
Some women feel liberated by the end of periods and the concern of getting pregnant.
A mother of 6 children explained how the menopause had freed her from “being a baby-machine” and gave her body “a well-earned rest”. Another single woman with no children expressed relief that she could no longer get pregnant.
For Eileen the freedom from periods and pregnancy was the most positive aspect of the menopause
Some women had mixed feelings about the end of their reproductive years. They accepted the menopause and loss of fertility as an inevitable part of growing older and appreciated the freedom it gave them. However, this sense of freedom was tinged with sadness because they no longer had control over their fertility.
Donna sees the menopause and subsequent loss of fertility as part of life, but feels a sense of loss
Maggie had very mixed feelings – glad not to be having periods but sad that she would never have…
A sense of loss
Women who had kept alive the possibility of having children throughout their reproductive lives were sad and deeply regretted the finality of the menopause. They talked about having to accept that they would never have children in terms of loss, bereavement and “unfulfilled maternal power and instincts.” One woman envied friends with grandchildren.
Susan was surprised at the impact loss of fertility had on her life choice of no children
When Mary realised that she would never have children it was a fundamental loss
The diagnosis of early menopause in the twenties or thirties can devastate a woman’s life. While fostering, adoption, and in some cases, egg donation may offer hope to some women, many feel that the menopause has taken away their sense of control over their bodies and their right to choose whether or not to have children (see: Early (premature) menopause, Relationships, sex and contraception).
Louises early menopause meant she couldnt have children as planned.
Liz experienced a ‘rollercoaster of emotions’ when an early menopause cruelly mimicked the…
A ‘broody desire’
Women who already had children were often surprised to feel a sense of loss at the end of their reproductive life. They spoke of the “unfairness” of a missed period at 40 marking the beginning of the menopause rather than pregnancy, and of their regret that having another child was “not going to be a choice anymore”. The mother of two sons found it hard to accept that she would never have a daughter.
Beverley was upset when she realised that she could no longer decide whether or not to have…
Jill still feels maternal when she sees a baby but she couldn’t face two more teenagers
Several women explained how the loss of fertility brought an increased awareness of ageing and mortality, signalling the end of their youth and femininity (see Getting older). While one woman found this a “quite nice feeling of becoming mature”, another felt that her “femininity was about to decrease and decline” and wondered how this would affect her new relationship.
Lorna describes her ‘female womanly broody desire’ to have children with her new partner. She…
Social attitudes to fertility
Several women noted that our society values youth and fertility. That makes some women feel worthless when they realise that their reproductive life has ended.
Rebecca describes the negativity about the menopause in our society. She argues that women are…
Janice feels the void in her life now that she can no longer have children. She has outlived her…
Some women felt an underlying inequality when it comes to fertility. While men’s fertility may remain intact throughout their lives, women have to cope with its loss far earlier in life. As one woman remarked, “men seem to go on forever but women’s body parts don’t.”