By Tracy Dewhurst

Trustee Lead, Menopause Network

Tracy Dewhurst

If you’re a woman, people might not tell you about what’s going to happen to you in menopause to prepare you for what may be a rollercoaster ride of physical and mental emotion to come. Some women don't feel comfortable talking about it amongst themselves and despite the recent publicity and increased awareness of it in the media, it’s still not something some people (or indeed close women friends) want to talk about. It’s so great that times are changing and we are raising awareness both in our personal lives, but importantly it’s been recognised in the workplace too now.

For many women just acknowledging that they are in or about to enter menopause brings on anxiety and concerns around feeling washed up and over the hill, whatever age it happens. And it can happen for some very early. Sadly, there’s still a bit of shame attached to it and I know when I tried to talk to my mum she didn’t want to talk about it. 

Equally importantly nobody talks to their partners or children about this too, so that they understand it more, are prepared for and can support the emotional upheaval ahead so I thought that I would share my very personal story as a start to many conversations throughout March where we are focusing on our own wellbeing.

Whilst things are changing and awareness is increasing it’s still a sad fact that around 25% of women in their 40s consider leaving employment because of menopause and being unable to cope and feel unsupported. This has to stop as women are working longer and need that support to help them continue to be as productive as they can at an age where they have so much to give.

But did you know that here at the hospice we’re ahead of the game and we’ve already recognised the need for support and awareness in our own Menopause Policy within our recently issued Employee Handbook. If you haven’t read it please have a look as this may be impacting you now, may happen to you or your loved ones in the future or as a line manager you may have people in your team in any of those categories, so knowing about it will really help.

But don’t take our word for it …. back in December, three lovely (and incredibly brave) ladies shared their honest stories of the menopause as part of the Schwartz Rounds in a safe space. This was one of the highest attended Schwartz Rounds by both curious and like minded people who listened to the stories and also shared their own stories of how the menopause has impacted them and their lives too. Feedback was really positive with a call for more conversations about the menopause to help our people going through it, our people yet to go through it and their loved ones to help support them in their journey.

Roll forward three months and I’m so proud as the Trustee Menopause champion to announce that those lovely and brave ladies have opened up the menopause conversation at the hospice through our new Menopause Network.

The Network will discuss topics to highlight the good, the bad and sometimes the downright ugly menopause myths and truths and also provide opportunities for people to come together, share their stories and ask questions without embarrassment in a supportive environment.

We need to keep momentum going to raise awareness of the menopause across the hospice. We want everyone talking about the menopause freely and without embarrassment. As a starting point we’ve set a date for our first Menopause Café on Tuesday 26th March. We know it’s a big ask, some of you may feel very uncomfortable at first, some of you may be curious and just want to come along and listen (and that’s ok) but hopefully doing this in a safe space with like minded people will help too.

Take care,