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Menopause Journal: Am I supposed to be sick?

No period. It's been more than two months. So I've missed two. I gave in and did the pregnancy test. It came back negative, but it's hard to believe unless I get my period. So I keep waiting, keep expecting it. After all, menstruation doesn't just stop one day, never to happen again ... does it? That doesn't seem right.

And now I see that menopause has become a disease. The other day I clicked on "" and due to a JavaScript error, I never got past the menu of topics. One, titled "Doctor's Guide to the Internet," claimed to have the latest medical news for patients "diagnosed with menopause" ... Wait a minute. Diagnoses are made for diseases. I checked my American Heritage Dictionary to make sure: "The act or process of identifying or determining the nature of a disease through examination."

Maybe I'm feeling a touch of menopausal madness. Why is menopause diagnosed? Puberty wasn't. Another reference was a menopausal guide for women from ages 30 to 90. Applying the disease theory, wouldn't that make two-thirds of all women invalids or women invalids for two-thirds of their lives?

Oh, I know I'll need to think about hormones and the risk of osteoporosis, and I'll try to keep up with clinical studies, but must I have a disease?

The clinical terms for this stage of life seem pretty arbitrary. Perimenopause is the time of declining hormones leading up to menopause, but no one knows when it begins. Nobody even mentions it except clinicians. When I inquire, women mostly look puzzled and ask, "What is it?" My older cousin's response was, "How do you spell it?"

Clinically, menopause begins with the last menstrual period and lasts for one year from that date. But even that appears to exist only for a referential convenience, as there's little difference at the end of that year between menopause and postmenopause. Hormone levels can be measured, but some people use them up earlier than others.

One friend calls it mamapause, but I'm still a mama. I see the wisdom in referring to the entire process as the change. Yet, why THE change? There've been so many ? world changes and my own physical and emotional changes. My friend Madge said that her doctor warned her to look for symptoms as if she were in danger. Is this change more of a challenge or more profound than falling in love, becoming a parent, dealing with my 8-month-old son's meningitis, getting divorced, creating my own job, having Crohn's disease or grieving the deaths of loved ones? Life is change.