Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Raising curtain on menopause, the upheaval

Some time ago, I joined a group of friends to see a show called Menopause, The Musical. They (and most of the audience) roared at every joke about hot flashes, weight gain, insomnia and general crankiness.

I didn't get the joke, though my pals assured me I soon would.

Karen Giblin is glad that women are laughing about menopause, though her introduction to the subject was anything but funny. She founded an advocacy group called Red Hot Mamas 20 years ago, after an emergency hysterectomy at age 40 threw her into sudden menopause and a world of confusing symptoms, from hot flashes, to insomnia, to forgetfulness.

Giblin, an elected official in her Connecticut town, went looking for answers. "I went to my local bookstore, and found only one book on the subject,'' she said.

"I was so embarrassed I was even in menopause, I hid it under other books at the checkout. Now that so many people are talking about it, and there are so many jokes about it, I think that's a good sign. I think Red Hot Mamas has contributed to that.''

Her group is a lot more about health information than jokes, however. It maintains an informative website ( and partners with hospitals across the country to present programs to women trying to sort through the hormonal upheaval. You can attend a morning-long session June 18 at Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater (see box).

Given that women have been going through menopause for, oh, a very long time, why is there so much talk about it these days?

"Menopause is universal among women, but the symptoms vary enormously, so it's a highly individualized experience,'' Giblin told me.

"I also think women are uncertain about treatments. They're finding it difficult to assess their risks and benefits.''

An estimated 6,500 women a day in the United States are entering menopause, Giblin said. Hot flashes are very common and get a lot of attention, but she thinks the insomnia can be the worst of it. "You're irritable, depressed, blue, you gain weight, then your sex life goes down like the stock market because you'd rather jump in the La-Z-Boy than have sex.''

But a lot of women don't tell their doctors, said Giblin, whose own doctors prepared her for surgery with information about pain management, but didn't tell her about menopause itself.

"The typical 7- to 15-minute appointment isn't enough time, unless you come prepared with a list of your symptoms. It's time consuming, it's embarrassing. But it's affecting women's quality of life and that of those around them.''

And whether or not you find humor in menopause, it is well worth talking about.

"It's so important to communicate with loved ones and friends that you may be going through a difficult change, but it's only a transition," she said.

"It does get better.''


Morton Plant Mease Women's Services kicks off a local Red Hot Mamas program with a free workshop on June 18, 9 a.m. to noon at Morton Plant Hospital, Tuttle Auditorium, 300 Pinellas St., Clearwater. Enjoy some pampering and education from ob-gyn Stephanie Van Zandt, wellness coach Elizabeth Nelson and fitness trainer Catherine Shears. Call (727) 953-6877 to preregister.

Raising curtain on menopause, the upheaval

05/20/11 [Last modified: Friday, May 20, 2011 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Plan your weekend Aug. 18-20: Elvis in concert, Jason Aldean, Monster Jam Triple Threat, Sing-Along Grease


    Plan your weekend

    The king

    Elvis: Live in Concert: This year marks the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death, and Ruth Eckerd Hall will have a Graceland-produced Elvis concert on a movie screen, accompanied by a full live orchestra. Graceland calls it the closest audiences …

    Handout photos of Elvis: Live in Concert, a tour spectacle featuring a live orchestra backing the voice of Elvis Presley, projected onto a movie screen. The tour comes to Ruth Eckerd Hall on 8/18/17. Credit: Graceland.
  2. Woman convicted in murder of 18-year-old with cerebral palsy gets lighter term


    TAMPA — Linda Bonck, a 90-pound Chamberlain High School senior with cerebral palsy, lived near Tampa's Lowry Park. She struggled to walk and talk but was known for being friendly and trusting of strangers until she vanished one day in 1992.

    Georgia Miller, 39, was convicted for the 1992 murder of Linda Bonck, an 18-year-old Chamberlain High School student who had cerebral palsy. Originally sentenced to life in prison, Miller was resentenced Wednesday to 65 years, the result of U.S. and Florida Supreme Court decisions that found it unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to life. With gain time, Miller will be released from prison in the next six years. [Florida Department of Corrections]
  3. Boynton Beach woman arrested on DUI, child abuse charges


    A Boynton Beach woman was arrested Saturday and faces DUI and child abuse charges after she blew a .200 on a breath test with an unbuckled child in the backseat, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

    Brandy Lerma, 31 of Boynton Beach, was arrested on DUI and child abuse charges on Saturday. [Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Editorial: Why can't Hillsborough commissioners move Confederate monument?


    The violence in Charlottesville, Va., crystallized for much of the nation the danger of refusing to address painful symbols of the past. But not so in Hillsborough County, where the County Commission on Wednesday reversed itself yet again and left open the possibility of leaving a Confederate monument outside the …

  5. Former WTSP employee sues station's parent companies for gender discrimination


    A former director at WTSP-Ch. 10 has sued the station's parent companies, claiming she was the victim of gender discrimination.