World Menopause Awareness Month October 2023


Let's Talk Menopause

Let’s talk about menopause. Because, let’s face it, women have spent the last century or more NOT talking about menopause. World Menopause Awareness Month is October and Menopause Awareness Day itself is on Wednesday October 18th 2023. It’s a day (and a month) where us “meno-warriors” get the whole world talking about menopause – it’s not a taboo subject, it’s not something to be embarrassed about, it happens to 100% of 51% of the population….LET’S TALK!
I can see why it wasn’t talked about for years. I mean, back in Victorian times, the average life expectancy for women was 42 – menopause…. not so much of a problem back then! But by 1920 it life expectancy had increased to 59, in the 1950s it was 72 and now in 2023 life expectancy for women is 83. Obviously, these are average figures but, if you take the average age for menopause as being 51, then we can spend almost 40% of our lives as post-menopausal! So, guess what? We need to talk about our symptoms, we need talk about what’s going on in our lives and how we are feeling - and the impact that those pesky hormones have on our bodies.
We are also working for longer. We are fortunately out of that period of time where women are expected to stay home and keep house, and women can have fabulous, successful, long careers! YES!! At last! But when you think about it, the average retirement age for women in 2023 is 64, which is 13 years after the average age of menopause and 23 years after the average age for symptoms starting. Is menopause at work therefore something that needs to be considered? It most DEFINITELY is.
There are certain words that people don’t like saying. “Moist” is one, by way of example (sorry!). “Period” is another (in the context of “time of the month” not the “period of time”). I’m sure you had or have other words that you use to avoid saying “period” - in my house it was “I’ve got my monthly” or “I’m on” or “Aunt Flo is visiting” is another one I’ve heard! And similarly, the word “MENOPAUSE” is one of those words that people avoid. “On the change” is often used instead. (I actually Googled “another way of saying menopause” and what came up as an option was “midlife crisis” which I think is (a) slightly unfair but also (b) very telling). Periods and our menstrual cycles are one of those subjects that people feel uncomfortable talking about. Anything to do with bladder, bowels and women’s gynaecological health seem to be a taboo subject. And I know that historically it just wasn’t the “done thing” to mention them – these subjects were “unmentionables”.
But this has meant that to our generation (when I say that, I mean those of us women currently perimenopausal) the whole thing has come as something of a shock. Our mums and grandmas just didn’t talk about it. I know that from my own experience, my mum only ever said one thing about it to me. “I got my menopause when I was 50”. That’s all I remember her saying. I don’t remember her telling me that she suffered terribly with her mental health in her late 40s, with crippling anxiety - and that symptom was why she had to give up her job. But that’s what happened. But I don’t think that she linked it to her menopause and it’s only now, years later, that I’ve made that link. My grandma would certainly never have talked about things like that, her generation were raised with those “Victorian values” and “one just simply didn’t mention such a thing”. As a result, when I started to learn about the menopause I was literally starting from square one - and it has totally opened my eyes. It’s no wonder we are all so blind sided when those symptoms creep up on us and we wonder what the hell is happening. It’s no wonder some women feel like they’re going mad. And because it’s not talked about, it can be a very lonely time.
I do what I do to help those women who feel that they can’t talk about it. I want to raise awareness amongst our generation, yes, but I also want to educate younger women about what is coming to them in the future. I want to help men to know about it, so they can support their partners, families and colleagues. I want to educate bosses of companies so that they can support and look after their female employees at work – to enable them to stay in their roles until they want to retire and not feel forced out through lack of understanding. There’s so much to do.
So, this October I’ll be out and about spreading the word – it’s okay to talk about menopause. It’s not just okay, it’s GOOD to talk about it. Let’s educate, inform and support, especially during World Menopause Awareness Month. And if you’d like to have a chat with me about all things Menopause and how I can help you, anyone you know or your business, then I would LOVE for us to have that conversation!