The purpose of this cross-sectional pilot study was to develop a preliminary understanding of how menopause is experienced by Mongolian women. Our goals were to collect symptoms associated with the end of menstruation and to understand the language used and meaning of menopause in everyday life.
We carried out interviews using a semistructured questionnaire with open-ended questions (n = 17). In the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, we carried out two focus groups of five women each in a community center and an artisan factory, along with five separate interviews in a second community center and a coffee shop. We also administered the questionnaire by phone to two women residing in rural villages.
The most common symptoms associated with the end of menstruation were hot flashes (71%), anger (47%), and stress (29%). Other symptoms included shortness of breath, fatigue, crying, and badairakh (tingling) on the face. Women used the words tsevershilt and tsevershikh to describe cleansing. Menstruation was thought to rid the body of “bad” blood, so with menopause the body has been “cleaned.” Conversely, some women attributed a decline in health, including varicose veins, diabetes, and negative psychological changes, to the retention of “bad” blood after menopause.
The topic of menopause is not taboo, and the prevalence and experience of hot flashes is similar to experiences described across the world. However, there are specific words and concepts, such as tsevershikh and tsevershilt, that are uniquely applied to the menopausal transition in Mongolia.