October is Menopause Awareness Month and on the 18 of this month is World Menopause Day. It is a significant day to bring more awareness to menopause.
Women make up close to 50% of the world’s population, and most women reaching the average age for menopause around 51 will experience symptoms. Although this directly affects or will affect almost half of the world’s population, menopause and its debilitating side effects are still shrouded in mystery and hardly ever talked about.
Raising awareness is not just a matter of pointing women suffering from menopausal symptoms towards the support options available for improving health and wellbeing. This day/ month serves to educate everyone; because everyone will be directly or indirectly affected.
In human evolution, menopause is a fairly recent phenomenon. The advances in medical science and improved living standards that have raised our life expectancy let us easily forget that women only lived to an average of 49 years just 100 years ago. To put it bluntly, not too long ago, most women died before the age of their bodies’ metamorphosis.
Aging can be a gift
Let’s use Menopause Awareness Month as a reminder that ageing is not a bad thing. It is a privilege. Does this wonderful gift of the extension of life also bring challenges? Yes!
Life is not a linear development. It is an up and down. When puberty kicked in, we had our first taste of the hormonal rollercoaster ride. Looking back, this certainly was no fun either, and some of the symptoms, especially the mood changes, are comparable to the hormonal decline of menopause.
Menopause can be a new beginning
Menopause is an ending, and we naturally mourn when things end. However, menopause should not be seen as THE END. Like puberty, it is a rite of passage and with life expectancy still rising, once through menopause, we will live over a third of our lives post-menopausal which means it is also the start of a new beginning. It is a whole new chapter: without a period!
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
First of all, women need to know what’s coming. Hearing from women, coming on menopause, we don’t feel quite physically and emotionally prepared for it. It’s crucial to educate younger women. For too long, women have been struggling to find the support, information and guidance they need to help them through perimenopause and menopause.
The power of community
Women have gathered in circles to share our experience, bestow our wisdom to the next generations and lift each other. These safe and supportive gatherings can be immensely helpful to navigate the change, uncertainty and transitions that are part of the menopause experience.
As we’ve experienced in the MegsMenopause community, menopause can be a great unifier. The fact that women have the courage to be vulnerable and publicly share their stories and experiences will empower the next generation and provide them with a platform of resources and the support of others in the community.
Let’s be open about it
Second, this does not mean menopause should be something talked about just in whispers among us ladies. Let’s talk about it with the men in our lives. Not just during Menopause Awareness Month, but always! Let’s talk about it with our families and friends. Let’s spread this across all media channels! Menopause, like other natural changes in the female body, is still shrouded in shame in our society.
This leads to misconceptions that can negatively impact our lives and put an additional strain on our experience. As mentioned above, menopause affects everyone. It is happening to you or to someone you know, so let’s talk about it.
Thirdly, doctors! As we very well know, women are misrepresented and underrepresented in our culture, like media, jobs, positions of power, etc. And it doesn’t stop there. When it comes to medicine and research data, the man is seen as the “default human”. As a result, there is a glaring lack of health data about women.
Doctors’ education must do better for women to provide us with more satisfying care when we face this massive life shift and avoid the utter chaos that entails misdiagnosed and untreated symptoms. Women deserve medical advice that is up to date with current research.
The best is yet to come
All in all, our longer lifespan is a marvellous thing, but it requires smart strategies to enjoy a comparable health span as well. Reaching menopause does not mean your best years are behind you. Life is not over; it has simply changed. You can be the strongest, fittest, most confident version of yourself yet!
And if it gets so hard that you feel like you want to scream towards the heavens, “why me” and curse that you are on this planet in a female body, it is time for a change of perspective.
Your beautiful body has brought you this far. It has carried you through many a storm; when it broke, it healed. It has given love; it might have given life. Look at your body as the miracle it is.