The subject of the menopause is one that creates great discussion and often disagreement. Can we change the conversation around 'the change'?
Over the past 48 hours, a number of stories focusing on menopause have hit the headlines. Yasmine Le Bon, designer and supermodel, opened up about her own personal struggle with the menopause, a study by the University of Nebraska Medical Center suggested that menopause is found to worsen symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and measures to support menopausal women put in place by Nottinghamshire Police were hotly debated in the media.
Earlier this month, BBC 4 Woman's Hour dedicated a week to discussions around menopause in order to explore its impact on women’s work and relationships, and potential treatment. The extensive conversation revealed that there are as many different experiences of the menopause as there are similar ones.
NHS Information notes that the menopause usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age. In the UK, the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51 - although around 1 in 100 women experience the menopause before 40 years of age (known as premature menopause).
Menopausal symptoms vary from person to person, but two of the symptoms can be low mood or anxiety. A fact sheet published by the British Menopause Society reveals that around 10% of women are more likely to have a "depressed mood" during the menopause transition, as it can affect self-esteem and lead to low-mood due to negative beliefs about menopause, and stigma about age and reproductive status, and psychosocial stresses, which often accumulate during mid-life.
Counselling Directory member, Angela Keane suggests working with a counsellor to understand the wider context of your experiences and how this can affect your symptoms.
“Whether menopause is a biological ‘event’ or a life stage, for many women it coincides with a period of increased caring responsibilities, work pressures, the challenges of long-term relationships and of course, the physical effects of ageing. Little wonder then that many women report low energy, increased anxiety and 'mood swings'," says Angela.
“This is not to deny the biology of menopause, but rather to remember that our biologies are in part written by our cultures. Counsellors, whose role is partly to support all processes of change, are well-placed to listen to and help make sense of the experience of menopause, whatever that means to you. And perhaps ‘the change’, when considered this way, could be a positive one.”