What is your attitude to menopause? At the start of the corporate training sessions I deliver with Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace I often open the session with a question: “If you were to describe a menopausal woman what would you say/what words would you use?” The normal response constitutes words like ‘hot’, ‘sweaty’, ‘grumpy’, ‘tired’ etc. One very unpopular response I had early last year was ‘old’. This obviously didn’t go down well with most of the audience.
In the last 2 weeks, I’ve had a couple of different responses. The first, and probably my favourite, to the question, how would you describe a menopausal woman, one woman answered ‘Fabulous!’. How amazing is that? As it turned out, this woman was having a really tough time with managing her menopause symptoms but as she said, ‘it just makes me even more fabulous that I can deal with these’.
The second response I loved was ‘just like any other woman’. I found this really interesting as I still meet many women who hate the thought of being labelled ‘menopausal’. And I get it. Why should menopause be considered a label? You just happen to be a woman who is going through menopause.
According to the Faculty of Occupational Medicine, there are 4.4 million women going through menopause in work in the UK and I’m very proud to be one of them. The landscape has changed dramatically for women over the last century. Menopause used to be something that happened when women were ‘old’ as we only lived for only a few years post menopause. With a dramatic increase in life expectancy, menopause happening earlier and more women working this is just not the case anymore. For many women, menopause is the halfway point in life and that means we have so much of our life to live through menopause and beyond.
The challenge we still have is there still seems to be so many negative connotations and images attached to the menopause. How many times have you seen this image accompanying an article on menopause?
I feel we all have a responsibility to work towards changing this. Imagine if everyone’s response to the question – how would you describe a menopausal woman – was ‘Fabulous!’. We are and I intend to continue being ‘fabulous’ through all the challenges menopause may throw my way. Let’s be the change in the way we all see menopause and our attitude towards it.