Shaping the Conversation Around Menopause

book cover for Menopause: a comic treatment and a headshot of the editor MK Czerwiec

If you’re going through menopause or are post-menopausal and are struggling with physical, emotional and other changes, you are 100% not alone. We’re seeing a vibrant trend of individuals in the U.S. claiming an authentic and mature sexuality past middle age. And more folks are speaking up about their experiences going through menopause and the effects of aging on their bodies, social and mental selves. Through these conversations, they are reducing the stigma attached to these life changes.

An example of such conversations is Menopause: A Comic Treatment. Nurse, cartoonist, and educator MK Czerwiec put together a collection of comics along with 28 other contributors who tell their own stories about going through menopause. The anthology is funny, intimate, and empowering — a must-read for individuals curious about menopause or looking for camaraderie around their experiences.

I interviewed MK about the collection and her advice to other folks going through this change. You can also join the virtual book launch party hosted by Women and Children First on Thursday, August 20 at 7pm. 

Jera Brown: What do people get wrong about menopause and this time in people’s lives?
 
MK Czerwiec: That menopause is about weakness and fading from relevance. It’s actually a time women move into being most relevant to themselves, and from there can achieve great things! Once the body adapts to some of the changes that come with this time, and symptoms are managed, there can be a newfound groundedness and power. That is a great place to be. 
 
What did you learn from editing this anthology? 
 
I learned about the wide range of experiences that can bring about menopause – surgery for some types of cancer and gender transition, for example. It was also enlightening to hear about the range of experiences, symptoms, and coping mechanisms people have developed. 
 
In the introduction, you quoted disability rights activist Riva Lehrer who said “the magical thing about bodies [is that] they respond to the unexpected with their own forms of poetic genius.” How are you finding that folks are adapting to the changes of menopause with “poetic genius?”
 
By drawing about their experiences, by forming community, by finding and sharing ways to cope, by adapting to their new realities in creative ways. 
 
As a nurse, do you have any tips about how to talk to health care providers about menopause and how to advocate for yourself?
 
Seek support and community, and speak with power from your experience. Come to appointments armed with questions and data wherever possible. If you don’t feel you are being listened to or dismissed, keep trying to find a provider who has experience in this area and can listen. 
 
How can people find community? How can they be open about their experiences and reduce the shame around them? Where are you finding more role models for older folks that are embracing their bodies and their sexual selves? Where are the crones?
 
I think by taking and listening to one another. This book is hopefully a step in that direction! There are some great online resources, such as The Woolfer community and hotflash inc
 
Sample pages from the book:
 
 
 

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Jera Brown writes about being a queer kinky polyamorous Christian on their blog scarletchurch.com. Their sex and relationship advice column, Just the Tip, is hosted by Rebellious Magazine. Follow them on Twitter or Instagram @thejerabrown.