Menopause: Reframing the Conversation

Three years ago, I surveyed women aged 35-55, and 70% told me they didn’t have anyone to talk to about menopause, OR that they would never talk about menopause with anyone! This “invisible conversation” concerned me greatly and led to the launch of the Menopause Chicks Private Facebook Community.

I imagined creating a social learning group—because, quite frankly, that’s what I had been searching for myself when I had turned to “Dr. Google” all those mornings at 3 a.m. trying to be my own best health advocate. Now I’m on a mission to empower all women to navigate perimenopause-to-menopause (& beyond!) with more confidence and ease. It’s called “social learning” because it’s on Facebook and it’s a non-intimidating, trust-based space that connects women to quality health information, to women’s health professionals, and (best of all) connects women to other women for peer support and shared experiences.

Why? Because women deserve midlife health information that is both awesome and free.

We are up against decades of menopause being thought of as a disease, a deficiency and battling a culture that predominantly views the midlife transition as something that requires medicalization.

This helps to explain why vast numbers of women feel uninformed about what to expect in menopause. We are not typically encouraged to get educated about our midlife transition. If nothing is “broken,” we don’t necessarily feel compelled to educate ourselves, prepare or proactively learn about our bodies.

Menopause, as a life phase, is not revered. It is rarely discussed outside of private, hushed conversations. The word menopause is frequently misused—it is often laden with fear and certainly with negativity, surrounded by assumptions that something is “wrong” or “needs fixing.” For the most part, it is misunderstood.

Menopause is technically one day. It is the 12-month anniversary of your final menstrual period. The average age of menopause in North America is 51. (1) Perimenopause is the phase of life leading up to menopause and every day after you reach menopause is technically post-menopause. Although you will find that many health professionals and media outlets will use menopause as an umbrella term referring to all phases, I find that confuses women.

Every woman’s experience is unique and not all women suffer. However, some common experiences include hot flashes, sleep disturbances, and vaginal dryness. (2)

Since I launched Menopause Chicks, I’ve been introducing myself as a Menopause Chick, and I still get looks from women who make a stop-sign-shape with their hand and say something like, “Oh that doesn’t apply to me (yet).” It often feels as though some women think I’m crazy for even starting the menopause conversation. It makes them uncomfortable. They simply do not want to talk about it, and that makes it extra challenging if we ever expect our partners/spouses, friends, kids, co-workers, or even our bosses to understand the changes (or challenges) women are facing.

But here’s the thing: menopause, hormone health and vaginal health conversations do apply to you— and you, and you, and you! While not all women suffer, no one is exempt. Menopause is an important topic, because it affects all women and represents a time of considerable growth in our lives. The better we can get at addressing any physical or emotional challenges, perhaps with the help and support of our health teams, the quicker we can get on with enjoying the newfound wisdom, confidence and vitality that comes with the second half of our lives!

Because of some of the negative resistance I received from women, I realized early on that my mission of simply talking about menopause was not going to be the answer. The mission had to be expanded; we needed to crack open the conversation AND re-frame it. Igniting a paradigm shift around menopause would have the potential to empower women to navigate menopause with as much confidence as possible.

Can you imagine a future where we’ve redefined menopause from something that is full of fear into a conversation that women actually embrace? What if it was put on a pedestal? What if it was revered as the time in a woman’s life where she felt the smartest she has ever been?

This is the future I dream of for my daughter and her friends, and their daughters.

This post is written by Shirley Weir from Menopause Chicks. All opinions expressed in this post are her own.

This post is sponsored by TherapeuticsMD, Inc.
NP-20043 11/2019

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