Let's talk about the menopause

Today, as some of you will know, is World Menopause Day. Lot’s of you won’t know, though. Maybe it’s down to a lack of attention to ‘World X Day’s’ (fair enough). Or maybe it’s down to a much bigger problem — that we don’t talk about the menopause nearly enough.

The menopause is when a woman stops having periods — triggered by a drop in the levels of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. Each woman’s menopausal journey is unique — ranging from no symptoms for some women to extreme mental and physical distress for others. If we were to start with the most common symptoms, these include:

  • hot flushes and night sweats

  • anxiety and low mood

  • memory problems

  • sleep problems

  • changes in libido and vaginal dryness — causing discomfort when having sex and potentially altering the dynamics in romantic relationships

For most women, this happens between 45-55 years. But it can happen a lot earlier — roughly 1% of women will experience menopausal symptoms before the age of 40. Further, the menopause can be triggered earlier by some medical conditions and treatments, like chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

The reality is that there’s a lot going on for most women and menopause is hard to manage alongside the rest of life. Female partners, sisters, mothers, colleagues, and friends are experiencing their bodies change in ways they never have — but no one is talking about it. Maybe I just love a chat, but that’s mad!

The final workplace taboo

The menopause has been called the final workplace taboo. Almost all women who work will transition into menopause while in full-time employment. What’s more, there’s research suggesting that the UK is one of the worst places to go through the menopause!

Menopausal symptoms are more common in the UK than in other European countries like Sweden (typical) and Italy. And the impact on relationships, emotionally and physically, is worse too. Highlighting that cultural variations in diet, exercise, societal attitudes towards ageing, and understanding of the menopause can potentially change a woman’s experience. Not talking about it creates stigma at the least and shame at the worst — which is totally avoidable if we just talked about it more.

Dare I say it — I think we need to be a little more French about it

The French view “La Ménopause” quite differently to us Brits. Funnily enough, it’s a far better experience over the channel. Women don’t feel useless at the end of their reproductive life — instead, it’s viewed as a second coming. French society allows older women to remain equal to their younger counterparts in terms of their contributions. It doesn’t write them out of society or sexual activity.

What’s next?

Beyond talking, there are other ways we can support women. If “knowledge is power” (cheers Francis B) — and we believe it is here at Thriva — then providing women with the information they need to understand their bodies is THE logical first step. From clear, digestible information about how diet and exercise can help with symptoms to blood tests which show where your hormones are at, we want to do it all! So watch this space.

If you are interested in knowing what we are up to go to https://try.thriva.co/female-hormones/.