“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
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
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:
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,