October is Menopause Month. Social Media is awash with personal stories of the menopause from women affected. Tips are being offered galore. Finally. The silence is being broken on a woman’s issue. About time too.
Don’t tell me to ‘calm down‘
The silence on the menopause has been deafening. Women are told, instead, to ‘calm down’ when we raise concerns about our health. The Victorian attitude of viewing women as moaners has evolved into a slogan printed on calendars and mugs. The health gap is real.
When asked about specific women’s health topics, the proportion of women who felt (or were perceived to) feel comfortable talking to professionals was:
77% for menstrual wellbeing
72% for gynaecological cancers
71% for gynaecological conditions
64% for the menopause
Passing stories down the family line
Perhaps a different approach is needed to empower women to feel confident when talking about health issues especially about the menopause.
While NOT apportioning blame, If charity starts at home, I propose that the silence and taboos around the menopause should be a heritage issue. I don’t ever remember hearing about it from the older female members of my family. Perhaps it’s due to the cultural shame associated with health issues, and especially female related ones. Perhaps it’s a gender associated shame which inhabits all cultures and not just the Asian one.
If it takes a village to raise a child, I am proposing that it ought to take a village of older women to help demystify the menopause through sharing their stories of the menopause and how it affected them. I recently asked an English friend of mine whether there had been any talk in her family about the menopause. She replied that women spoke about it in hushed tones and called it, ‘the change’.
Let’s label this change and phase in our midlife. Speak about the ‘menopause’ freely and candidly. Pass on the message to younger women so that they are prepared and are able to recognise the signs when it happens to them. Let’s be ambassadors in our own spheres of life.
The impact of the menopause is very far reaching.
- three out of five working women between the ages of 45 and 55 who are experiencing menopause symptoms say it has a negative impact on them at work
- nearly two-thirds of women surveyed said they were less able to concentrate
- more than half said they experience more stress
- 30 per cent of women said they had taken sick leave because of their symptoms
- only a small minority of women said they told their managers about the real reason for taking sick leave