It cannot be said often enough, menopause, and the consequences of ensuing estrogen deficiency affect EVERY woman.
Yet why, in the 21st century, do we still find it difficult to discuss, surround it with embarrassed laughter, and speak in hushed tones? What is so bad about openly discussing a physiological process which is simply a hormone deficiency, the consequences of which have now a much greater effect on our health than ever before, because we are living longer, so we are experiencing the consequences for more years than any previous generation?
I do get the feeling that more people now are wanting to talk about it, wanting to find out more information, but it doesn’t come easily. A recent taxi journey during a trip to Dublin highlights the issues: when asked why I was in Dublin, I replied that I was speaking at the Irish Menopause Society annual conference. The response was hilarious—“Holy Mother of Jesus, my wife has been through the menopause 3 times!!” There then followed an enlightening discussion about her symptoms, which were severe, but there was frustration that she did not feel that she could visit her doctor, or indeed talk to anyone about this highly embarrassing subject. A Menopause Matters magazine was duly produced from my bag and given to pass on, in the hope that the information would be helpful!
Perhaps it’s the word “Menopause” which is so highly charged with associations with negativity, periods, female hormones? Whatever the reason, this needs to change. In the absence so far of an internationally accepted alternative word to describe the transition that all women experience, let’s just all do what we can to help others be open, informative and supportive.