Objective: To study women's psychological development during menopause and to examine the relationship between women's appraisal of menopause and symptom reporting.
Design: A population-based sample of 130 healthy women was assessed annually for 5 consecutive years using semistructured interviews, a menopausal symptom rating scale, and the Symptom Checklist-90 rating scale.
Results: Qualitative analyses of the interviews showed that the majority of the women (57%) had neutral beliefs about menopause, whereas 31% were pessimistic and 12% were optimistic. Optimistic and neutral expectations were associated with low levels of symptom reporting, whereas the pessimistic appraisal was significantly related to elevated symptom scores. The majority of the neutral and pessimistic women reappraised menopause during the study period, and at the last follow-up, 67% appraised menopause positively. A positive reappraisal among the initially pessimistic women was associated with more frequent statements about personal growth compared with the other subgroups.
Conclusions: Menopause has a developmental potential and is a positive period for most women.