The menopause and womanhood
The menopause is a natural part of womanhood, but it's often misunderstood by those who aren't experiencing it themselves.We're excited to welcome Professor Myra Hunter to the Unmind Platform for a brand new Understanding Menopause Series. Myra is a clinical andhealth psychologist who has worked in the area of women’s health for over 35 years, in both a clinical and research capacity. Menopause is one of her specialisms, and she has published eight books on this topic. She has also developed brief cognitive behavioural (CBT) interventions for menopausal symptoms, hot flushes and night sweats, and has conducted successful clinical trials in this area.
We sat down with Myra and asked her a few questions to find out more about menopause and its impact.
1. What was it like collaborating with Unmind on Understanding Menopause, and why do you think this topic is so important?
Unmind have both a positive attitude and the enthusiasm to reach out to women who are approaching or going through the menopause transition in a helpful way. There is much interest in the menopause yet much of the available information is conflicting and not based on research evidence.
It is a normal biological process that affects most women yet their experience of it is extremely variable – I am interested in how psychological, social and cultural factors impact on women’s experience.
Talking openly about menopause involves disclosing personal information about age and reproductive status in a society that values youth and fertility. In work and social situations women often fear ridicule, if they have hot flushes that might disclose their menopausal status and concerns that other people’s reactions may not be supportive are common.
The impact of menopause is highly variable – just as some women have few problems at all and are pleased to have no periods, others are overwhelmed by symptoms, such as hot flushes and night sweats, that can lead to disturbed sleep, anxiety, tiredness and low mood. For many women the menopause has both negative and some neutral or positive consequences.
It can be helpful to prepare for the menopause and there are a range of evidence-based options if women do have problems – most of which are time limited.
Employers can address aspects of their working lives that make the menopause difficult for women, e.g. being able to regulate the room temperature, wearing uniforms of natural fibres, offering desk fans and flexible working hours, but also implementing staff awareness training to counter overly negative attitudes and beliefs about menopause and to train managers to have helpful conversations about menopause if and when the needs arise.
I hope that people reading the Series will gain a broad perspective of the menopause that embraces the range of experience that women have, as well as gaining knowledge of helpful strategies that can improve women’s quality of life during the transition through menopause.
For more information on menopause, our blog explores the symptoms and cultural differences in more detail.