"You're acting womanish!" A qualitative descriptive study of the experiences of African American women in menopausal transition

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Menopause is a natural transition that occurs for all women as they approach middle age and marks the end of their reproductive period in life. Menopausal transition is the phase leading up to menopause. There are a variety of symptoms that occur during menopausal transition which increase women’s risk for diseases and poor health outcomes. Symptoms vary and affect women differently across and within ethnic groups. African American women experience many health disparities that commonly occur around the age for menopausal transition that need to be addressed from a medical, psychosocial, and socio-economic context. This study used a qualitative descriptive methodology to explore the experiences of African American women in menopausal transition. Black Feminist Thought and Womanist Thought were the philosophical frameworks used to center the experiences of the participants. Content analysis was used to analyze data from individual interviews and a focus group. Meanings were captured and themes emerged from the data. Four overarching themes identified were: silence as a form of survival; resilience amidst the chaos, socialization for self-preservation and empowerment and; reshaping and reclaiming womanhood. The findings contribute to understanding how intersecting oppressions affect the way African American women experience and manage the symptoms associated with menopausal transition.

African American women, Menopausal transition, Perimenopause, Menopause, Midlife