If we just understood menopause a bit better, maybe we could #BreakTheBias
Menopause is a big issue. Yet how many people really understand it, let alone support those going through it?
It's time to #BreakTheBias around menopause.
And to start, here's an absolute must-see video you can share with your friends and colleagues for International Women's Day (IWD).
Supporting IWD and the #BreakTheBias theme, Prodigious London the agency-agnostic global production platform of the Publicis Groupe, collaborated on a highly engaging and informative video to shine a spotlight on menopause.
The video features the experiences of four people - Lori, Max, La Cher and Éimi - who all speak candidly and provide considerable insight into the complexities of menopause.
So, what is menopause?
Lori, 39, opens the conversation: “Menopause is basically 12 months without a period, and anything prior to that is perimenopause, and that can last for 10 years,” she explains.
Highlighting some common misconceptions, she concedes: “I just assumed that you had a few months when you had your hot flushes and your sweats and stuff then your period stops, and then you were done.”
The menopause journey for many women is very different. Max, 29, is a trans man, and highlights that by taking testosterone, the menopause process is sped up. “Menopause, right away it’s an interesting one for trans guys, because when you start taking testosterone you go into what would be seen outside of gender as a very slow menopause,” explains Max. “It’s pretty widely acknowledged that your first year on testosterone is the most wild.”
Menopause isn’t solely a health issue for older women as Éimi, 28, discovered. Having experienced early menopause due to a serious health scare, Éimi explains: “I started getting some like strange symptoms with my period – I ended up going to the doctors and finding out I had ovarian cancer, which was also a big shock as I was only 19 when I got diagnosed. Unfortunately, that meant I had to have an oophorectomy, which is where they take your ovaries out and basically that started a surgical menopause.”
And Éimi's experience is remarkably common, with a reported 1 in 100 women experience early menopause, which is classed as aged pre-40 years old.
The video also explores the myriad of symptoms experienced during menopause, with each person being unique.
While Lori experienced joint ache and ongoing period pains, La Cher saw a drastic reduction in her sex drive, a menopause symptom that she’s not alone with. The video reports that 1 in 3 women experience sexual difficulties.
La Cher explains: “I have no interest in sex. I remember when it was a time that I wondered if there was something wrong with me. I was researching to see if I should go and see a sex therapist. I questioned is this normal, everyone I know is very sexually active, but everyone I know too they’re a lot younger than me, you know they’re five, ten years younger than me.”
Other symptoms cited in the video include brain fog, forgetfulness, and lack of concentration.
Mental health awareness
However, it’s not just the physical health that suffers, with Éimi, Max and La Cher opening up about their mental health struggles – something that is a common thread during menopause. The video cites women aged 45-55 have the highest suicide rates.
Explaining his experience as a trans man, Max says: “The metaphor I always use is you’re on a rollercoaster, it’s going up and down, and you don’t really know what’s going next, you’re just holding on.”
Éimi felt that she lost sight of the old her during the menopause experience. “There are a lot of menopausal women that get to really to the brink of suicide sometimes because your anxiety and depression are so bad, and you don’t recognize who you’re looking at in the mirror anymore,” she says.
“It’s important for me to stay strong mentally because it’s easy for me to go to the negative side,” shares La Cher.
A second spring
While menopause is undoubtedly a difficult stage of life, it can also be a freeing and liberating journey.
“I’ve heard a lot of talks about it being your second spring. Whether or not you like that term, it’s nice to think you’re not done,” shares Éimi.
La Cher, meanwhile, associates menopause with strength, “To me, menopause represents tenacity and courage. I would never allow myself to think of it as a sign of weakness, or I can’t do something. It doesn’t define who I am.”
Having the right support is vital for menopause sufferers, whether this is at home, from friends, or in the workplace.
“It’s just important that everyone’s included in the conversation,” explains Lori. Éimi agrees, emphasizing the importance of allyship:. “To be an ally to some with their menopause you need to listen to them. I just want to be a voice for someone, anyone, just to see it one time and go, I’m not alone.”
So watch the film. Discuss it. Share it. It's time to #BreakTheBias around menopause through greater awareness and understanding.