The menopause revolution: how to take control of your future
UPDATED 14TH SEPTEMBER 2023
Heard about the menopause? Now read about the menopause revolution. It’s time to take control.
The might of the menopause: finding strength when we need it most
When it comes to the menopause and the perimenopause, there’s bad news and there’s good news. The bad news is that millions of women are facing something huge happening to us that we know precious little about as I’m starting to find out.
The good news is that once you are aware of it, there are actually lots of ways to not only cope with the menopause, but also (and trust me on this) to use it as your superpower (I’ll come back to this later). What you need to know firstly though, is how menopause symptoms might affect you, what you can do about that, and how we can all help each other through it.
Practical tips for coping with menopause
I’m sharing the practical side of what I’m learning here because so far, the main thing to know is that it’s vital to arm yourself with knowledge and then look at the practicalities, so we can start a revolution to end the idea that this is just what it’s like to get older. It isn’t. It’s a medical condition that we need to take seriously and to not palm women off with a bunch of antidepressants, the idea that it’s somehow a curse or advice to just ‘get on with it’. So how do we take control? Right…
Menopause and the workforce
According to the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee, who held an inquiry in 2021, the symptoms of the menopause have prompted nearly 900,000 women in the UK to leave their jobs. Plus three in five women reported that they have been negatively affected by it¹. Due to the age it takes place, many of those are suffering at the peak of their careers, too.
So just as they have the talent, experience and wisdom to really evolve the company, and on a personal level, enjoy the fruits of bloody decades of hard labour, many women are feeling like they have no choice but to quit. You can imagine the knock on effect this must have on productivity, not to mention gender-related pay and pension gaps? Now imagine the same thing happened to men? Exactly, it wouldn’t!
The hidden side of the menopause
Chairwoman of this committee, the Right Honourable Caroline Nokes, quite rightly said, “The repercussions of that are not merely individual. Excluding menopausal women from the workplace is detrimental to our economy, our society and our place on the world stage¹.” It’s yet another reason that starting your own business can be a better way for women to work as it puts you in control of your own destiny. You can read my thoughts on why I believe that entrepreneurship is the new women’s movement too. For now though, is it all bad news?
Positives about the menopause? Really?!
The menopause symptoms are not actually all bad. Yes there are the night sweats, anxiety and forgetfulness for example. Yet neuroscientist Dr Louann Brizendine’s decades of study show you actually go from brain fog to laser-sharp focus when you’re coming out of the menopause². So during this time women’s brains have less oestrogen, but a steadier supply of it.
Not all menopause symptoms are bad
So it is true that we may lose our ability to multitask but instead, are able to concentrate full whack on something that needs it. The main thing to note is that many women suffer because they either don’t know enough about the menopause (and therefore how or where to get help), don’t talk about the menopause or aren’t able to face dealing with it. If you do all three, you stand a fighting chance of better managing it — and here are some ways to take control…
How to cope with the perimenopause and menopause
Find out if what you’re going through even is the menopause. Don’t bury your head in the sand. If you’re experiencing menopause symptoms, you might be either perimenopausal (approaching the menopause) or in it, so get blood tests done and see if or where you are on the journey. When you get these results, you can find the best course of action for you. Vitamin supplements might help or hormone replacement therapy (I’ll be doing this btw, as I have far too much I still need to do to let this get in the way). You can also get an app to build your cycles into your day. On a Wednesday, can you try and finish work early to give yourself a chance to breathe? Or on a Friday, start later? What will help you get through this time in a calmer, happier way? If you work on your own, are there times you might need some extra help to cover tasks? If possible, build this in.
If Oprah said it, I believe it: let’s reinvent our futures
You see, a woman’s life does not need to finish when she starts the menopause. As Oprah Winfrey said, “So many women I’ve talked to see menopause as an ending. But as I’ve discovered this is your moment to reinvent yourself after years of focusing on the needs of everyone else. It’s your opportunity to get clear about what matters to you and then pursue that with all your energy, time and talent.”
Life after menopause: The ‘upgrade’
Dr Louann Brizendine explains the superpowers of post-menopausal women too. She’s rebranded this part as ‘The Upgrade’ and says, “The Upgrade is the phase of life we emerge into when we exit the hormonal war zone, finally able to see who we are, what we want and how we want to live. And, as a leading neuropsychiatrist, I’m here to tell you it’s a glorious time full of freedom and discovery².” There will be good days ahead, as well as the tough ones. One thing seems to be evident though. Improving our diets, taking vitamins, getting more sleep, doing what makes us happy and exercising all seem to help — so let’s make those changes.
How to treat menopause holistically
If it’s your memory that’s an issue, buy some nice notepads and write things down. If you’re in a funk, try dancing. Treat it holistically. We have an average of just 29,000 days on the planet and we’re a fair way through those already. Why spend what time you have left in a muddled state of anxiety or feeling low? It doesn’t make sense. Think of all the ambitions you have. The best person to make those dreams a reality is YOU. So make sure you are the most ‘you’ you can be and do all you can to mitigate menopausal symptoms. Surround yourself by ‘energy givers’ not ‘energy takers’, bring people on the journey with you and know that you have one heck of a life ahead. So join me on the menopause revolution — because the age of ‘just getting on with it’ ends here.