Let’s talk about Menopause
“Around one in five women report experiencing health challenges relating to menstruation or menopause. Among the 15% of women who report experiencing health challenges related to menstruation, over 40% say they work through the pain and discomfort.”-Women at Work
If not now, when?
I am 26, I was not educated about menopause at school. I feel as though I was barely educated about periods at school. And here I am now, writing a blog post about menopause, some of you are thinking, ‘little young to be writing this’. But therein lies the problem. And whilst we’re talking directly, men, you should keep reading too. The only information I have been exposed to about menopause is through mainstream media. Even then, it is at most a joke about a character going through the change and experiencing hot flushes and dryness…
By not educating people from a younger age about menopause, it neglects the notion that it even happens. Like it’s make believe or that you will somehow naturally have the resources to hand when the time comes. I remember hitting puberty and my mum panic throwing books my way titled ‘have you started yet?’ and ‘girls only’. The illustrations on the covers would have teen girls whispering between themselves, this only reinforced the stigma of periods needing to be an uncomfortable secret, never to be spoken openly about.
Thankfully (hopefully?), we have come away from this. Which as I grow older I see growing importance in. By gendering menstruation and menopause we only gate-keep vital and important information and care from the LGBTQ+ community. It has taken a long time, and I am still in the process of understanding my ever changing menstrual cycle. Thankfully, I’ve always felt a strong attachment to understanding my body’s natural process and hormone fluctuation. I only started to meet and converse with others that felt this way in my twenties.
I guess the point I am trying to make is that if it has taken 13 years (that’s 156 cycles!) to get to grips with periods, I can only imagine the loss of control one would feel during perimenopause. When we think about menopause, we should think in terms of the time taken to complete the whole process, much like we do with puberty.
“The Change” unfortunately still generally remains a taboo subject, even amongst many women. That’s why we need to talk about it, to your mums, dads, brothers, sisters, children – anyone. And for those dealing with this, or about to, it’s so important to learn about it. Do your research and approach your GP armed with the facts and knowledge.”-Menopause Mandate
Finding yourself in Community.
The most powerful conversations I have had with friends and confidants have sparked from one person saying to the other an honest or uncomfortable truth. No matter the subject, be it partners, periods or mental health, a friend saying I’ve felt that or I’ve experienced that too can completely shift your mindset. You are no longer alone or alienated in your feelings and experiences. It’s in this scary sweet spot that experiences and knowledge can be shared.
This is also why menstrual health should not become a gendered conversation. How can we gain vital support from our partners and loved ones if they also have no clue or understanding over what’s going on? Being in touch with yourself, at all stages of life is a crucial ally to your wellbeing. Even when looking into the future is a scary prospect, understanding your body’s natural processes and forming a connection ultimately influences your comfort and welfare.
“A strong theme coming through from research on this issue is that perimenopausal symptoms ‘can be quite disruptive and distressing, particularly when women do not know why these things are happening to them in the first place’. If their partners do not know either, we have the seeds for an inauthentic challenge to even the most healthy of relationships.” -Richard Hull
When we can’t rely on governments and policies to support and educate us, this is when community and allyship becomes a necessity. With that in mind, we took to our community to ask questions about menopause, here’s what they had to say:
“When I think about menopause I feel old. I know so little about menopause I cannot answer the question of how we can improve workplaces to support those going through the menopause. I feel that education about menopause should happen at an early age, and we need to integrate healthy conversations into popular culture, to all sexes.”
“When I think about menopause I feel unprepared and in denial despite it being inevitable. We need to fully recognise that women’s normal health is very different from mens. In terms of changes that need to be made in the workplace, I have no idea where to start. I am not sure if I would have been open to being taught about menopause when still under the influence of teachers at school. That said, reproductive health education at school (in the 90’s) felt abstract and surface. For fertility and pregnancy there is no end of advice and information backed up from the NHS with information and appointments with health professionals, and even then there are still gaps. I am also not sure medicalising menopause or any aspect of a woman’s reproductive health is empowering. Being able to notice, examine and interpret the clues of one’s own body is probably the best. So how do we teach that? And if so, starting as young as possible is best… a useful tool for both sexes.”
“I have lots of feelings about menopause, but ultimately I am trying to rethink menopause like I tried to rethink birthing. It can be a wonderful thing yet mostly what we see are the horrors, the blood, the screaming women. What about the other side? The euphoria, the baby bliss, the overwhelming feeling of awe and love. So although I’m not there yet, I’m trying to think about the potential new wisdom that comes with menopause. The freedom to have some painless and bloodless months. The change in hormones that lead to changes in your body and mind. I’m not entertaining the old, dried up, wrinkled, useless characters of a postmenopausal woman. We need more awareness and research in the same way impotence is given. There is five times more research into erectile dysfunction, which affects 19% of men, than into premenstrual syndrome, which affects 90% of women. And menopause happens to 50% of the population and 100% of women! We also need more research to combat the Women’s Health Initiative Study confusion over HRT.”
Each month, we offer a free talk open to the public. Our next Tribe Talk will be delivered by Yellow Empress Acupuncture. Hannah will be offering an evening around self-care for perimenopause with holistic perspectives for a healthy transition. To find out more and to book your free space, click here.
As always, we would love to hear your thoughts, keep in touch by signing up to our newsletter below! You can find our previous blog posts by clicking here.
Thanks for reading,