Menopause is a natural biological process that occurs in individuals assigned female at birth (AFAB), including intersex people, non-binary people and trans men. Menopause typically occurs in their late 40s or early 50s, and sometimes earlier. While menopause is often discussed within the context of cisgender women, it’s crucial to acknowledge that people across the gender and sexual orientation spectrum, including queer individuals, can also experience this significant life transition. In this blog post, we will explore the experiences of queer people during menopause, shed light on the available hormone replacement therapy (HRT) options, and address the medical barriers they may encounter.
Menopause is a multifaceted journey, influenced by an individual’s unique combination of biological, psychological, and social factors. Queer individuals undergoing menopause may encounter both similarities and distinct experiences compared to cisgender women. It’s important to recognise and validate their diverse identities, as their gender identity and sexual orientation can intersect with and impact their menopause experience.
HRT can play a significant role in managing the symptoms of menopause. There are various types of HRT available, including: a) Oestrogen Therapy: Oestrogen is the primary hormone used in HRT and can be administered in different forms such as pills, patches, gels, or creams. It helps alleviate symptoms like hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and mood changes.
b) Testosterone Therapy: Testosterone, typically associated with masculinity, may be prescribed to individuals assigned female at birth who identify as transgender men or non-binary, but also cis women. Testosterone can aid in managing symptoms and improving overall well-being during menopause.
c) Combination Therapy: Some individuals may benefit from a combination of oestrogen and testosterone therapy, tailored to their specific needs and goals. This approach requires careful monitoring and collaboration with healthcare professionals experienced in transgender and non-binary healthcare.
Queer individuals seeking menopause-related care may encounter specific challenges and barriers within the medical system. These can include:
a) Lack of awareness and understanding: Healthcare providers may not be adequately educated or trained on the unique healthcare needs of queer individuals. This knowledge gap can result in a lack of culturally competent care and potentially contribute to misdiagnosis or inadequate treatment.
b) Heteronormativity and assumptions: Assumptions based on heteronormative perspectives can impact the quality of care received. Healthcare providers should approach menopause discussions with an open mind, acknowledging and respecting the diversity of their patients’ identities and experiences.
c) Access to inclusive care: Limited access to healthcare providers who specialise in LGBTQIA+ health can be a barrier. Queer individuals may face challenges in finding professionals who are knowledgeable, sensitive, and inclusive in their approach to menopause management.
To ensure that queer individuals receive the support they need during menopause, it’s crucial to: a) Foster inclusive healthcare environments: Healthcare providers should undergo LGBTQIA+ cultural competency training and actively create safe spaces for queer individuals to discuss their concerns and experiences openly.
b) Advocate for research and education: Continued research and education on menopause experiences among queer individuals are essential to address gaps in knowledge and improve healthcare outcomes. This includes increasing awareness about HRT options and their potential benefits and risks within the queer community.
c) Supportive community networks: Building community networks and support systems can empower queer individuals navigating menopause. Online platforms, LGBTQIA+ organisations, and local support groups can provide valuable resources, information, and a sense of belonging.
Menopause is an important chapter in the lives of the individuals it effects, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.