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The Grandmother theory: reframing menopause

by | May 1, 2023 | Body Positive, Menopause, Women's Health

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I feel like my social media feed has been hijacked by the negative menopause society. Do you know what I mean? I have reel after Insta post about all the bad stuff that could happen during the menopause transition. Yes, it is important that everyone (not just the people experiencing menopause, but their families, friends and colleagues do too) But I’m here to tell you that menopause doesn’t have to be all bad. In fact, I believe menopause is the gateway to the next third of your life.

Menopause can also be full of positive changes, growth, and new opportunities.

And one of the most compelling arguments for reframing menopause in a positive light is the grandmother theory* (see below for origin of theory).

If you’re not familiar with the grandmother theory, it’s a fascinating idea that suggests menopause evolved as a way for women to shift their focus from reproduction to investing in their grandchildren. By ceasing to have children of their own, women were able to redirect their energy and resources toward supporting the survival and success of their offspring and their community.

They proposed that menopause evolved as a way for women to shift their focus from reproduction to investing in their grandchildren, which would increase their chances of survival and help to ensure the continuation of their genes.

The Grandmother Theory suggests that menopause is an evolutionary adaptation that allows women to live long enough to become grandmothers and pass on their knowledge to the next generation. This theory proposes that menopause evolved because post-menopausal women were better suited to invest time and resources in their grandchildren than in having more children of their own.

According to the theory, women who lived long enough to experience menopause were more successful at raising offspring to reproductive age than those who did not. This success was due to their ability to provide support and resources to their grandchildren, which increased their chances of survival and reproduction. As a result, the grandmother’s genes were more likely to be passed on to future generations, leading to the evolution of menopause.

The Grandmother Theory also highlights the social and cultural significance of menopause. It recognises that menopause is not just a biological event, but also a social and cultural one that can shape a woman’s role in her community. As women age, they may take on new roles and responsibilities, such as becoming a caregiver or mentors to younger generations.

Even if you are not technically a grandmother – The Grandmother Theory and the broader study of menopause have important take-home messages for women.

  1. Menopause is a natural and important part of the human life cycle. It is not a disease or a defect, but rather a transition that signals a shift in a woman’s reproductive and social roles.
  2. Menopause can bring positive changes to a woman’s life. It may provide opportunities for personal growth, career advancement, and new social roles, such as becoming a caregiver or mentor to younger generations.
  3. Menopause is not a one-size-fits-all experience. Every woman’s experience with menopause is unique and may be influenced by factors such as genetics, lifestyle, and cultural expectations.
  4. Women can take steps to manage the physical and emotional symptoms of menopause. This may include making lifestyle changes such as exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep, as well as seeking medical treatment when necessary.
  5. Women should celebrate and embrace their post-reproductive years. By recognizing the value and importance of menopause, women can take pride in their contributions to their families and communities, and continue to lead fulfilling and meaningful lives well into their later years.

And finally, women can be powerful and strong during all of life phases. However, during the child raising years – it can be really difficult to manage any extra “I am going to make the world a better place by XYZ” when you are managing the juggle of motherhood.

But check out women, whose children have left home , or are independent… these women are everywhere, getting serious shit done.

As a woman who has raised 4 children, who have now all left home – life is not only freer to devote to the things that I love doing (I can’t be bothered doing the shit that does not) and I am not so swayed by the court of public opinion. In short, I have the time, resources and the grit to get shit done. Menopause is the gateway into a powerful time in a women’s life. Make sure your health decisions now allow you to live the next third of your life the way you want to!


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Golda sahaya Rani R, Aruna S, & Vijayaraghavan R. (2020). Plyometrics and lifestyle effects on bone mineral density among premenopausal women: demographic and physiological analysis. International Journal of Research in Pharmaceutical Sciences, 11(3), 4126–4134. Retrieved from

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