Do you know that the average age for a woman in the western world to experience the menopause is 51? And that 1 in 4 women currently going through the menopause has considered leaving their job because of their experiences. The changes that happen to our bodies during this time are perfectly normal and yet in my 30-year corporate HR career and I can honestly say it was only mentioned openly twice that I can remember! How shocking is that?
When I reflect back on when my mother was in her 40s and 50s the menopause was rarely discussed, or maybe it was that the term was rarely used! I do remember her discussing ‘The Change of Life’ and wondering what on earth that might be. By her early 50’s she had retired and I wish that I could ask her how much her menopause played in her decision to remove herself from the workforce at such an early age.
Now when I’m with my friends we talk openly about our symptoms and use amusing terms such as ‘power surges’ or tropical moments’ are to lighten the mood when discussing hot flushes. But don’t be fooled by this, into thinking that it is something to be taken lightly because it is not, for many women it is a nightmare that lasts for between 4 and 8 years! The symptoms are not just hot flushes but also can be muscle and joint pain, night sweats, weight gain, anxiety and depression. It is great that we talk about postnatal depression and now we need to start talking about menopausal depression.
Still, in society, there are still some negative connotations. Only last week DJ Chris Evans was discussing some research that was questioning why postmenopausal women were still alive as Biologically our reason for existing has passed! Now I know that we are one of the few mammals that survive beyond our reproductive years and that this is an interesting subject for some research but is it helpful to those women who are currently suffering from low self-esteem and irritability due to their menopausal symptoms to hear this with their morning cuppa?
There is no doubt that there is a mixture of emotions associated with this change in our biology. Some women do feel a sense of loss as they move into another phase in their lives and this frequently occurs around the time of a big birthday. For many of us, it is a liberation from a monthly cycle that has dictated our lives for too many years.
Support is available.
Fortunately, there is more support available now and there is no need to go through it alone.
Coaching can be beneficial and be available face to face or via Skype. It provides a sounding board and a safe place to explore your feelings about what is happening and make plans for the future.
The time can be used in a number of different ways. It can
- help you decide what you need to do to cope better at home and at work
- help you plan any conversations you need to have about the support that you need, (I know we don’t always like to ask for help!)
- help to reduce your stress levels and build your resilience
- teach you new ways of coping with your symptoms.
- help you come to terms with this new phase in your life
- change your perspective on this transition
- set some positive exciting goals for the future
- Online support
I am very pleased to say that there are a number of online communities popping up that provide support to midlife women. One I particularly love is an online magazine called Mememe www.mememe.online, and there is also Henpecked www.henpecked.net. Both are wider than just the menopause and share an intelligent collection of articles for midlife women.
If you are looking for a natural health and fertility coach, then visit my friends Kathy Payne’s lovely website for free resources and courses. www.kathypayne.co.uk
- Medical support
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) can be very helpful for some women. If you need to go down the medical route then start with your GP, if you want a medically qualified expert then look at Dr Louise Newson www.menopausedoctor.co.uk
- Support for organisations
Menopause in The Workplace provides consultancy support to companies who appreciate the contribution provided by the midlife women in their organisation and want to ensure that they do not lose out on this talented population and that the individuals remain in their jobs. You can find out more here: www.menopauseintheworkplace.co.uk
Top tips if you are peri-menopausal or menopausal
- Try to take some exercise daily, I know you probably don’t feel like it. Exercise releases endorphins that will help you feel better.
- Increase your water intake. It is easy to become dehydrated and if you are dehydrated you will be less able to think clearly and might feel more muddled.
- Examine your diet. What you eat and drink can make a huge difference to your hormone levels and to the symptoms you experience.
- Learn to say ‘No’ to demands that are beyond what you can give.
- Relax and try to make your life simpler during this time.
- Get help. You do not need to go through this alone. Start by chatting with your friends and family about what you are experiencing. Seek out support online and if it is right for you to make an appointment with your doctor to see what help is available.
If you are a midlife woman and would like some hints and tips on how to rock this phase of your life then grab a copy of free gorgeous ebook ‘The Abundant Guide To Rocking Your Midlife’.
Let me know what you think below.