Let’s Talk Menopause - But How?
Millions of women worldwide are going through menopause at once; despite this, talking about menopause is still seen as a taboo by many.
Menopause symptoms can feel uncomfortable and embarrassing, which makes some women hesitant to talk about them. Often, this can leave women feeling isolated, thinking they are the only ones in their friendship group experiencing hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, low libido, vaginal dryness and other symptoms of menopause.
Sometimes, women also hide what they’re going through from their partners, feel like they have to keep up appearances for their children, and even feel awkward talking to their GP about it.
But this is no way to carry on. Menopause symptoms typically last for four years, but can last for more than a decade in some cases. You shouldn’t have to go through menopause alone. So how can you take those first steps to bringing up the subject with your loved ones or even with medical professionals?
How to Talk About Menopause…With Your Doctor
It can feel awkward to talk about how your vagina feels or to go into detail about your emotions with your GP, especially if they’ve been your doctor for a long time. But it’s important to remember that they’ve seen it all - and worse - before.
If you are nervous talking about menopause with your GP, it could help you to make notes beforehand. Don’t be afraid to go into detail about exactly what you’re experiencing - you need to be clear in order to help them advise you on the best option to help you to manage your menopause symptoms.
How to Talk About Menopause…With Your Partner
If you’ve never talked about menopause with your partner, it’s likely that they’ll have no idea what you’re actually going through - as much as you might like them to be, it’s important to remember that they’re not a mind reader.
Many men know very little about what women go through during menopause, because women don’t open up to them, so they can’t - it's a vicious cycle that can only be ended by breaking the taboo and taking the first steps to starting that conversation off.
Wait for a calm moment and take the time to explain what your menopause symptoms are like, answer your partner’s questions and keep them updated about any menopause supplements or other options you’re trying.
How to Talk About Menopause…With Your Friends
Such is the taboo around menopause that many women shy away from discussing the topic with their friends too, but this taboo is starting to be broken, thanks in part to the Menopause Café movement.
Menopause Cafés are cropping up all over the UK, providing women with a welcoming space to share their feelings around menopause with others who are going through a similar experience.
These spaces are designed to create menopause communities for women, so they can discuss everything from the severity of their hot flushes to which menopause supplements to try and how to deal with a changed sex life after menopause.
How to Talk About Menopause…With Your Colleagues
There are still enough barriers for women in the workplace without having to worry about a hot flush affecting an important presentation or struggling with menopause-related concentration problems in the middle of a meeting as well.
If there are other women in their 50s at your workplace, you can be assured that you won’t be alone. Try to start a conversation about how you’ve been feeling during a tea break or on a girls’ night out - it’s highly likely that they’ll be relieved someone else has brought the topic up first and will be glad of the chance to create a support network.
You could even team together to approach your boss or HR department and explain what you’re going through, so they understand if you do seem to be struggling with your concentration. You might also need the air conditioning or heating in the office to be altered too - only by speaking up will other people start to understand and the taboo will be broken.
How to Talk About Menopause…With Your Children
If you’ve got young children and are going through menopause, they won’t have a clue what’s happening unless you talk to them. All they’ll see is you being irritable, snappy and tired, and this could make them worry for you.
To reassure them and to help break the taboo among the next generation, you need to let them know what’s going on. Use language that they’ll understand and explain to them that it’s a completely natural process and that everything will be okay.
If you haven’t already found a way to manage your menopause symptoms, your relationship with your children should be motivation to find one.
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