Embracing the Menopause |
There are things you think you’ll never say. Like, ‘Have you got everything and do you need the toilet?’ to anyone over the age of 10. So finding myself saying the word Menopause in my head, let alone to others, is quite a shock.
I am not unique in this. In the last decade the willingness of women to write about their experience of the Menopause has increased, something we should all be grateful for. With real experiences shared we may better understand this phenomenon. As much as I respect medical approaches, I am instinctively drawn to the writings of everyday women living with it. Their stories of this phase of life provide a deeper understanding of what we might expect and strategies we can use.
To me the Menopause presents two huge challenges. Firstly, is the myriad of possible symptoms that you might experience at some point. The questions women want definite answers to, so they can plan and cope and do all that stuff we do, just aren’t there. How long does it last? It depends where you look. A quick glance across respectable websites shows anything from 4 years as the average to up to ten years…and don’t even start adding in the Peri-Menopause to that equation!
The second challenge is owning it. The Menopause took me a while to acknowledge, then to accept. Finally I think I’m starting to embrace the Menopause. Why should I be ashamed? Why should I feel like I have to quietly navigate this turmoil in my body? Might it be because men have long painted the ‘middle –aged’ woman as a wailing harridan past her prime?
I’m not saying we need to shout about it and start every conversation with it, but to be fair if this happened to men they’d probably get the decade off. Some enlightened companies are beginning to talk about changes in working conditions for women living with the menopause. This is a great move but it’ll take a range of trailblazing women to step up and take this. Stigma doesn’t disappear overnight.
And that is exactly why I’m talking about the Menopause – it’s about support. If we open up and share, we can support each other through a trying and uncertain time. If we own the Menopause we can affect meaningful change; we can support bosses to really help and educate their staff; further medics in their understanding and guidance and provide clues for the often bewildered men living around it.
Finally, we can set the tone for our future women – so they’ll know it’s ok to feel a bit bonkers, boiling hot when it’s frosty and like they may need their name sewing into their coat for fear of forgetting who they are!