After hearing the horror stories about menopause symptoms, I don’t blame you if you dread it. But if you’re looking forward to the change, you’re not alone there, either. For some people, regardless of gender or sexuality, menopause comes with a sense of relief despite the unwanted symptoms. Along with the freedom from periods and the issues many people experience with them, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA+) people sometimes find that menopause is surprisingly affirming.

Is Menopause Cause for Celebration?

It can feel like you’re getting the short end of the stick when you trade menstruation for menopause. To get to the other side, you still have to go through an obstacle course of hot flashes, insomnia, libido changes, and other symptoms that affect your mind and body. But sometimes, it’s worth celebrating the potential positives of menopause, like:

  • No more painful periods or PMS symptoms
  • Having sex without worrying about unintended pregnancy
  • Lower risk of uterine fibroids—and possible shrinkage of existing ones

Some people even feel more confident and like they have a stronger sense of self after menopause. In other words, menopause itself probably isn’t what you’re looking forward to but rather what comes after it. Yes, there are still challenges and health risks to consider, but you’re allowed to feel joy and relief about how your body will change, even if it’s not all sunshine and roses.

Are There Good Parts of Menopause for Queer People?

In many ways, the LGBTQIA+ menopause experience overlaps with that of cisgender, heterosexual women. But you might notice some differences once you dig into how it impacts gender, sexuality, and personal relationships. While some people will struggle with these things through menopause, others find menopause eases some of the struggles with:

  • Gender dysphoria
  • Physical presentation and transitioning
  • Pressure to perform assigned identities
  • Non-traditional approaches to societal roles

Relief from Gender Dysphoria

Menopause will change your body. While some people dread that part of it, it can make some transgender and nonbinary people feel less like their body has to fit society’s definition of “woman.” It can lessen gender dysphoria, or the feeling that your physical appearance doesn’t match the gender you know and feel you are, whether you’ve medically transitioned or not.

Menopause can worsen gender dysphoria, especially when menopause care and messaging so rarely include transgender and gender-diverse experiences. Even cisgender women can experience dysphoria with menopause if they feel the changes to their body don’t reflect their identity as a woman.

Some people aren’t bothered by the physical changes of menopause at all. Your identity itself doesn’t determine how you’ll experience this part of the change, and it’s different for everyone. This is where it can help to seek support, so you can share your experience with others who understand it.

Natural Physical Transitions

Not every transgender or nonbinary person medically transitions, but menopause is its own transition. Even though your appearance doesn’t define your gender, it is part of your gender expression.

With menopause, because your hormones are changing, some people feel their body looks and feels more masculine. It’s normal to have complicated feelings around these changes, but it’s not unusual to find some joy in them, either. For example, if you’re a transmasculine person and menopause comes with more facial hair, it can make you feel like your body is naturally aligning more closely with your gender.

People who feel more comfortable with a feminine gender expression may find this change stressful. However, it can be an advantage for people with a more masculine identity or expression, since they may feel less pressure to conform to others’ ideas of womanhood.

More Freedom with Gender and Sexuality

Most people in LGBTQIA+ relationships understand what it’s like to feel pressured to perform an identity that doesn’t align with who they are. You might have felt the pressure to marry, have sex, have kids, and look or act a certain way based on your perceived gender. While some people may feel anger, sadness, grief, and many other emotions as their roles shift during menopause, others feel a positive change when these pressures become less intense.

It’s okay to celebrate or feel curious about these changes and what they mean for your expression. You’re allowed to explore with your body and discover new ways to find pleasure with it—whatever that means to you.

Varied Experiences Matter

Many cisgender, sexual minority women find joy—or simply worry less—about how menopause will impact certain aspects of their identity. A 2020 study from Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) showed that cisgender, heterosexual women “expressed greater regret of menstrual periods ending” while sexual minority women felt less concern for losing some of their “traditional femininity.”

These different values can help some women accept the changes of menopause more openly. They may still struggle with symptoms, needs, and relationships during menopause, but just like with gender and sexuality, each person has their own experience. Sometimes we just need to dig past the typical advice to understand and offer support.

 

Affirming Menopause Care Eases Stress

You might have complicated feelings and challenges, even if you’re ready for menopause. Having gender-affirming care can help you navigate all kinds of experiences. Still, not all medical professionals have the training to work with LGBTQIA+ folks in an affirming way.

With diverse identities and needs, it’s important to find a medical professional who can also affirm your feelings as you go through this transition. If you’re queer or transgender, it may help to look for a doctor or gynecologist who:

  • Asks your preferred name and pronouns
  • Informs you in detail of the care they’re giving you
  • Explains their decisions and works with you on your care plan
  • Listens to your needs for your body
  • Has experience working with LGBTQIA+ patients

Even within the LGBTQIA+ community, your experience won’t be the same as someone else’s. If you need a place to start, you can find safe care providers at the LGBTQ+ Healthcare Directory.

It’s Okay to Look Forward to Menopause

You may not enjoy the symptoms of menopause and perimenopause, but it’s okay to be happy for the end of menstruation. But even positive changes can feel like you’re leaving something behind or losing something you’ve always known.

It might help you to find others who share your feelings or experiences with menopause. Everyone needs support, no matter your gender or sexuality. When you find others who understand your experience, it makes menopause more bearable and helps you feel affirmed.

About The Author

Eli Wood (he/they) is a queer and genderqueer content writer and content strategist. He writes about sexual health and wellness and works to help people feel more comfortable talking about uncomfortable topics, especially within the LGBTQIA+ community. They also create strategic, LGBTQIA+ inclusive content and craft content strategies to help businesses reach their ideal audiences. You can find more of his work on their website.

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