When it comes to puberty, the first significant change through which a woman’s body travels, there’s plenty of support available. Our mothers and other family members were often there to guide us through, and we probably even learnt what to expect – at least biologically, if not physiologically – through lessons at school. Yet when it comes to the opposite end of that cycle, it’s been the elephant in the room that no one has been prepared to mention.
Unlike the changes that occur to our body when we are growing up, changes that occur as our bodies grow older, have historically been a taboo topic. Menopausal women have suffered in silence as their bodies have undergone changes they didn’t really understand, even too embarrassed to talk to their doctors. As many as six percent of women – that’s one in sixteen – go through the menopause early, that is to say before the age of 40. While their friends and colleagues might still be feeling in their prime, the distress that these unknown or undiagnosed symptoms can cause may be considerable. The early onset of menopause may be due to lifestyle factors such as smoking, it may be a natural result of genetics or a side effect from medications or surgery.
The menopause is a natural part of woman’s life, so it’s perhaps a little strange that it’s been so unnatural for us to talk about it. The great news is though, it’s no longer an unknown plague through which we are expected to suffer in silence. Women, now more than ever, are taking control of all areas of their life. Confident, educated, and financially secure, simply putting up with the negative changes that menopause may cause is simply not an option. Social and cultural awkwardness regarding cosmetic procedures are, for most, a thing of the past. As more women acknowledge the transition of menopause in their lives and discuss this openly, the easier it becomes for others to do likewise. Why live with painful and uncomfortable symptoms for the next 30 or more years when there’s help available?
Knowledge is power. Angelina Jolie shared her story with the world when preventative surgery induced an early menopause, including the different methods she investigated to treat the symptoms. When Kim Cattarall’s Sex in the City character Samantha Jones went through the menopause on screen, Kim researched the symptoms to help her better play her role. Just two years later when Kim herself started to recognize the symptoms in her own body, she was in a position to seek help and treatments. She embraced, with support, this natural change in her life.
Two highly successful, attractive and powerful women found the support that meant for them, menopause didn’t mean a loss of sexuality and an uncomfortable transition towards old age. It doesn’t need to for any of us. The more of us that are prepared to openly discuss what we go through – because every woman’s experience of menopause will be different – the better it is for all of us. We’ll gain in confidence to share this part of our lives and improve our own and others’ understanding of the natural changes through which our bodies are going. We’ll be more aware of the help that’s available and empowered to take control and continue to lead the fulfilled and healthy lives we want. Come on ladies, let’s talk about the menopause.