Thank goodness for the TV celebs who talk loud and proud on the menopause, because as Lorraine Kelly recently said, it’s time to remove the stigma associated with the ‘M’ word and speak freely about the symptoms and the impact it can have on women’s lives.
Meanwhile, Davina McCall’s recollection of the menopause is that it reminded her of her drug addiction days and while Carol Vorderman’s suicidal thoughts may sound extreme for some, experiencing difficult and problematic menopause symptoms is the harsh reality for many of the 14 million women in the UK going through ‘the change’ at any one point.
Yet, despite the attempts to lift the lid on this taboo, media headlines are littered with doom and gloom stories which will leave the world’s women fearing the inevitable as the years advance.
One of the latest studies to be conducted has suggested that going through the menopause can increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s because evidence shows that there is a link between lower estrogen levels and the fatal disease.
This is in addition to research from The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), which found that over 56% of perimenopausal women are getting less than seven hours of sleep a night, and are at high risk of heart attack.
What’s more, the changes in hormone levels during menopause said to be a double threat to our hearts, because menopause increases the amount of plaque build-up in the arteries, increasing blood pressure and the risk of a stroke. Meanwhile, 80% of women experience menopausal symptoms, including the physical - hot flushes, insomnia and weight gain, and the psychological and emotional, including mood changes, depression and anxiety.
These revelations, coupled with the apparent positive news that HRT won’t kill you and merely increases your chances of getting cancer or having a stroke, is not how we best prepare 14 million women a year for entering what is just a natural phase of life. Women need inspiring solutions, not endless data and analysis to decipher. And I’m not talking about making the new craft beer (another recent news story) that vows to ease menopausal symptoms part of your after-eight routine!
Instead, we need to highlight the sad truths of menopause and how to deal with the symptoms in the 21st century. In my online communities through which I support thousands of women, I witness marriages breaking down, jobs being lost and self-confidence destroyed through the menopause.
The women I meet need to talk about way more than the medicines and hormone replacement therapies available, and even diet, exercise, supplements and relaxation methods. They need all of this and more - how to explain the menopause to their partner, children, how to work through the menopause in the work place and how to manage it emotionally.
You see, it is not all bad! Let’s look at Davina again. Yes, her menopause was traumatic, but now she feels sexier than ever. Other surveys have found that once out ‘the other side’ of menopause, many women are left feeling empowered. Changes to diet and exercise routines to alleviate symptoms end up having a positive impact on their habits and they feel a great sense of achievement and acceptance of who they are.
So it’s time to talk about the ‘M’ word in a positive light.