Why we need to break the stigma of talking about menopause

This month we speak to Heather Jackson and Sam Simister, co-founders of GenM – the menopause partner for brands, about the stigma of talking about menopause. 

The facts

There are currently around 15.5 million menopausal and perimenopausal women in the UK alone. That’s a third of the total female population. Globally, there is set to be one billion women, as well as some trans and non-binary people, going through menopause by 2025. Factoring in their friends, family, colleagues it is clear that the menopause affects everyone.

GenM’s research 

Despite this, 3 in 4 women surveyed as part of our GenM Invisibility Report, believe the menopause remains a social taboo that cannot be openly discussed in society. It’s one of the most impactful and most discriminatory taboos that still exists. Its ignorance has fostered a culture where those in menopause feel unsupported, unprepared and afraid to speak out – and we’re speaking from experience!

Our research shows 70% of menopausal women learn from their own experiences and self-discovery. This underlines the fact that women are navigating the challenges of the menopause alone and in silence, forcing feelings of isolation and invisibility.

48 symptoms

GenM recognises 48 medical, credible and clinical symptoms and impacts of the menopause from headaches and osteoporosis to an increase in anxiety, panic attacks and depression. While each person’s menopause is unique, most of us will experience symptoms.

Yet, 51% of women can name only three symptoms, demonstrating limited awareness and knowledge. If women themselves can only name three, how much less do the men in their lives know about the menopause? Furthermore, how can we expect brands to cater to our needs if we don’t even know them ourselves?

Normalising the conversation

Our research shows that almost all women (94%) wish that society was more open to talking about the topic. And the fact is, nothing is going to change until we do. Our work at GenM is all about normalising the conversation throughout society, from everyday people in the street, all the way to the boardrooms where power is held.

GenM believes that everyone has a role to play and that includes brands and organisations. We all need to recognise that menopause impacts everyone directly or indirectly, whether as a consumer, a work colleague, a partner, a friend or loved one.

The menopause is often pigeonholed as merely a medical issue, or a gender issue, or a workplace issue, but it’s more than all of these – it affects everything. And our response too, must be greater than the sum of its parts. The menopause can change every aspect of your life –  from what you eat and drink to the clothes you wear or even the cosmetics you need use. Anyone who’s sweated off layers of makeup during a hot flush would agree!

Informed choices

We need to make sure that those entering menopause are prepared for what to expect and are able to make informed choices on how to manage it in the way that’s right for them. After all, you wouldn’t run a marathon in a pair of slippers, so why are we letting people enter this period so woefully unprepared, physically, emotionally and mentally?

Long-lasting Change

To incite long-lasting, meaningful change, we need to ensure inspiring support and information is accessible to all, as well as better education and awareness to help remove the stigma. We also need to work together as a society to better serve the menopause at home, in the workplace, in the marketplace and in every sphere of life. Only when we have all of these will we be able to fully equip menopausal people, and their support groups, to navigate this life-changing transition.

For more information on GenM’s work, visit: http://gen-m.com/