This blog is part 2 of a series running in October on raising awareness about menopause.

On 18th October 2021, it was World Menopause Day and the focus this year by the International Menopause Society (IMS) is bone health.

The School of Health and Social Care hosted a webinar on World Menopause Day with two speakers: Sally Roberts a relationships and Sexual Health Consultant; and Clare Shephard from #KNOWYOURMENOPAUSE both keen to demystify and raise awareness of menopause.

In the last Blog, I discussed what menopause is and some of the most common symptoms. Over the last decade, research exploring women’s health was predominately concentrated on the physical symptoms of menopause (Griffith 2013).

In the UK, NICE (2015) describes the physical symptoms as a range of vasomotor symptoms (hot flushes and sweats), musculoskeletal symptoms (joint and muscle pain) urogenital symptoms (vaginal dryness). The psychological symptoms include effects on mood (low mood & anxiety), decreased sex drive and memory issues (brain fog) (RCN 2019).

However there has been limited focus on the women emotional wellbeing. Throughout history women have felt unable to discuss their experiences of menopause (RCN 2020, Cronin et al 2020) and this aspect of women’s health is still very much a taboo subject. Raising awareness of menopause is really important so that women feel prepared young and old, at home, school and in the workplace.

This menopoem might be familiar to those of you have are living with menopause symptoms:

You feel your body fill with heat, 
No control hot feet,
You fill from top to toe
No control just heat 
Your head begins to roll
No control just heat
This builds to a prickly rush
No control just heat
You flash like a beacon
No control just heat
Flushing red checks
No control just more heat
Just blowing out hot air
No control just heat
Uncomfortably perspiring and wet 
Where’s the control to this heat?
Looking for cool air
No control just more heat
Peel off layers like an onion
No control but heat
[Sigh] Put the layers back on
No control its cold.

The International Menopause Society recognise that throughout the world, the terms and terminology used around the field of menopause is misused and has caused a great deal of confusion and misinformation among healthcare providers, those in research, the media, and the public. They have created an approved list of menopause terms.

Recent studies have shown that women turning to social media when seeking peer support (Cronin 2017), and whist this may provide them with a sense of camaraderie and a platform to discuss subjects they find embarrassing, it may not contain accurate or trustworthy information (Cronin et al 2020).  This shows that more appropriate support is needed to empower women to share their experiences and seek interventions to alleviate their discomfort (Henpicked 2020). In my next Blog I will share some research that has been conducted around the world.

For now, I wish to share some Top Ten Tips to help you TALK, TRACK and TREAT (TTT):

  1. See the menopause as a transition as opposed to a hurdle. Some women describe the symptoms of menopause like being on a roller coaster. On those days you do need to be kind to yourself and find strategies to help you manage those symptoms e.g., breathing exercises.
  2. Build a support system of people that understand what you’re going through. It is important to find a group/network and talk. Go to a Menopause Café.
  3. When finding information go to reputable sources which use evidence-based info e.g., Women’s Health Concern (and I have listed some resources below).
  4. Lifestyle changes are needed to manage your symptoms: eat well, sleep well, quit smoking, drink less, do some exercise, walk, do weight bearing exercises, maybe some weights but get a nice balance that works for you.
  5. Keep hydrated and avoid triggers e.g., caffeine and alcohol.
  6. Build in breathing exercises e.g., through mindfulness, yoga, or bodybalance. Create a mindful work or creative space, and regularly do a mindful walk e.g., green space, sea space whatever works for you. Make time for YOU and make time to relax.
  7. Do what works for you with no regrets. Be prepared to try many things and give your body TIME to adjust in this transition. Many women have described menopause as a journey.
  8. Consider HRT. Get assessed first and there are many options that may suit you.
  9. Talk and prepare those around you, your partner, your children, and your friends. Keep your family informed about the way you feel and help them to understand. Let’s breakdown the generation taboos.
  10. Talk. Track. Treat - TALK more to the experts, to your workplace and to your family. Use the support pack below. TRACK your symptoms, Caria is a useful app. TREAT Seek help earlier rather than later. See your GP or Practice Nurse.

Start these conversations early.

Resources for you

To help you work towards TTT here are some useful resources to help you on your menopause journey. Elizabeth Ellis and Clare Shepherd from #KNOWYOURMENOPAUSE have created an excellent Menopause Support Pack to help you understand and track your menopause symptoms. This will help you be more informed about your body and symptoms and if needed this will help you be informed and armed with the right information to make the most out of your appointment with the Doctor or Practice Nurse.

Menopause Support Pack

To help women understand what may be happening to their body & mind during menopause please go to #KnowYourMenopause Support Pack.

They have also created a great #KnowYourMenopause poster which you can share, show your family, display in your workplace and is available to download in English, Welsh, Urdu, Scottish Gaelic, German, French & Dutch.

If you are looking for support then the Women’s Health Concern is a charitable organisation that aims to help educate and support women with their healthcare by providing unbiased, accurate information.

My next blog will focus on menopause in the workplace.