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Never talking about the menopause openly to anyone - Why?

(16 Posts)
PhyllisDietrichson Wed 30-Mar-16 20:42:33

I have noticed that the menopause is not often spoken about openly. Women seem reluctant to discuss it with family, friends or colleagues - not even other women of a similar age who admit to problems, and I wondered why this is the case?

When i've been honest to other women about the subject, it has stopped them in their tracks, they've gone quiet at first, then admitted they feel exactly the same, but felt unable to talk about their symptoms which they feel: are not up for discussion/are not relevant /are private/and no-one understands etc - in other words, many reasons not to discuss this very important issue with anyone but a doctor with hit and miss results. These same women have tentatively opened-up about how much the menopause is adversely affecting their lives, in a myriad of ways both mentally and physically, some i've spoken with have awful symptoms but don't want to be put on anti-depressants necessarily or are not yet eligible for HRT. Surely a syndrome so serious and far reaching for half the population of the planet for a considerable period needs discussing in depth and openly?

I wanted to know if you've found it difficult to discuss your symptoms and if so why? Have you had to come on helpful chatrooms like this one to get answers and reassurance?

Would you find it useful to attend a local talk or conference about the menopause? I know I would, but when I google this, it seems there's just Doctor run conferences about the menopause offering expertise to other healthcare professionals, it's not focussed on you and me and what actually works to alleviate symptoms. I'd like to find out more from other women face-to-face about their symptoms and thoughts. Perhaps have these issues addressed by experts as part of a wider discussion.

I am not from any organisation, I am not a journalist or healthcare professional, but I'd be interested to know your thoughts? Would you find local discussion groups or a wider menopause conference useful? Or are there another ways we can help each other?

AuntieStella Wed 30-Mar-16 20:53:38

I wouldn't find it useful to attend an event about it.

But I certainly talk about it with similarly aged friends as we go through it. As do you. And, I should imagine, as do lots of other women.

But it is quite personal, so only those I would have yakked to about periods, PMT, gynae troubles and the detailed/graphic version of childbirth.

MenopauseMatters is a good website. And I hope the new Nice guidelines will help too.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Wed 30-Mar-16 20:55:17

I talk about it all the time!

To my Dh, my friends, my teenage sons.

Nothing secretive here.

TotalConfucius Wed 30-Mar-16 21:00:33

I also talk about it openly with family and friends, including my 21 yr old ds and DD 14. Including the emotional side of it as well. I know my mum and older sisters were not as open but I think today's menopause generation is very different.

annandale Wed 30-Mar-16 21:03:50

Because it's really dull?

I was with a group of similarly middle aged friends at the weekend and perimenopause was the hot topic for a short time, until we decided to talk about our salaries instead, which was a LOT more interesting.

Hassled Wed 30-Mar-16 21:05:59

There are really useful websites around - and this Menopause topic on MN has been invaluable to me in terms of factual information and solidarity. But you're right that it isn't widely discussed, although I've been very open with my friends, DCs and DH about the issues I've had. But no, I wouldn't attend a conference - I don't feel I'm lacking in information.

SirChenjin Wed 30-Mar-16 21:10:09

I'm approaching the menopause and have symptoms that I'm discussing openly with friends who are also happy to share their stories. Perhaps working in a female dominated team in the NHS helps, but I seem to have spent most of my adult life hearing all about the menopause - it's certainly not hidden away ime.

I'm not sure I would attend a conference - I attend too many of them with work and it would feel too formal - and there are some pretty good websites/discussion forums out there already.

PollyPerky Wed 30-Mar-16 21:16:10


Some ideas....

-If you want to talk about the menopause with 'virtual strangers' then there is the website Menopause Matters which has a very active forum. There are also I understand, international forums. (sorry- see this has been mentioned already upthread!)

-You can also read some good books on it like Your Change, Your Choice, written by a gynae.

-You can research scientific papers, and other publications, starting for example with the recent NICE report on the menopause, published Nov 15. There is a link to it on the Home page of Menopause Matters.

-There is the British Menopause Society and the International Menopause Society and you can also access papers from their publications the Climacteric online.

-Many gynaecologists who specialise in menopause have their research papers listed on their websites . (eg Nick Panay, Prof John Studd)

There is plenty of info around on menopause if you spend some time looking.

As an 'aside' I think your friends might try harder for HRT if that's what they want because there is no rule about 'not being eligible for it yet' - unless their drs are misinformed ( as proved here often!) and telling them they can't have it because they are still having periods- doh.

That1950sMum Wed 30-Mar-16 21:18:22

I have no interest in talking about it. If is the least interesting thing happening in my life.

PacificDogwod Wed 30-Mar-16 21:19:22

I agree it's not spoken about much or widely, but nor are many other things related to sexuality/reproduction/bodily functions.

There is no way on this earth I would attend a conference or support group on the menopause, but that may just be me.

Lots of resources about it are out there as per Polly's excellent post.

And I do talk about it when appropriate, just like I will talk about my MCs if the subject of pregnancy loss comes up. But not just to pass the time at the busstop grin

Kummerspeck Wed 30-Mar-16 21:29:52

I think women discuss menopause openly with friends but not with wider groups because, like periods, PMS, childbirth and many other health issues, it is seen as "private".

I do also think that we live in such a youth obsessed society that any signs of ageing are seen as negative which discourages openness about it. I have read that in societies that value age and the wisdom associated with it, women suffer far less with physical symptoms and see menopause as a valuable rite of passage leading to a time of increased freedom and creativity

Personally I always felt that PMS was far worse if I focussed on it and period pains far worse if I stressed over them. I wonder if menopause might be the same as I have, so far, had an easy ride but I try to just be aware of any symptoms but not let them be too much of an issue.

Weaselma Wed 30-Mar-16 21:44:00

I found reassurance by posting here, and am now shuffling off to look at the Menopause Matters forums. I have discussed with friends, it was something my Mum never mentioned, generational differences!

Backingvocals Wed 30-Mar-16 21:54:01

I have found the same thing OP. I don't think I've ever had a single conversation about it in my life apart from hearing jokey references to hot flushes. I'm going through it now and it's hideous. It's really affecting my quality of life which I wasn't expecting.

I recall reading an article in the Guardian by a woman describing how menopause affected her work life. It's the only similar thing I've ever read. The comments were appalling - of the 'how dare this woman be talking about her disgusting hormones in a newspaper' variety.

Backingvocals Wed 30-Mar-16 21:56:33

I would talk to my friends but I happen to be the oldest of them and be slightly earlier to go through it than average so they have no experience.

I actually would like to talk about it at work as it is badly affecting my wellbeing but that would definitely be a step too far.

PollyPerky Wed 30-Mar-16 22:17:10

Can I suggest there are two different strands to this?

The first is a lack of information. It's out there- but it takes a lot of googling and following up links on sites etc. It's like learning about puberty but in reverse.

The second is our society's attitude to ageing as Kummerspeck says.

Menopause is in so many people's minds the 'beginning of the end' for women. There are very negative attitudes to ageing women and a loss of fertility also in many people's minds equals a loss of femininity and sexuality.(Not many people know that around 1:3 couples in their 80s still have a sex life , for instance! Sex is not something the elderly are supposed to do!)

Many women who don't know about the benefits of HRT and how it can eradicate vaginal atrophy give up on sex when they hit the menopause, which in turn influences men's opinions that women over 50 are sexually dead when all they need is some vaginal cream to help discomfort!

Women are their own worst enemy sometimes because they are afraid /embarrassed to ask for help with this, so the 'no sex after menopause' becomes a reality for them.

It's up to women themselves to talk more openly on this because unlike our grandmothers, and great grandmothers, we have the choice to be sexually active all our lives with the help of modern medicine!

lljkk Fri 01-Apr-16 11:58:34

Not talked about is not my experience.

One colleague at work talks A Lot about HRT as lifesaver. Cancer in her family, so not simple decision. We work in public health so more aware of balancing benefits-risks than average.

There's so much info online nowadays, do people really need face to face chat, too?

Many older women I know, said going thru the Change was difficult, so I don't expect any different. They were frustrated but no secrets or shame.

My mom was a sex addict fiend her whole life so only from online have I learnt that menop is supposed to mean sexual cessation... my mom's fave movie was Harold & Maude so Maude is my post-menop (including sexual) role model.

I'm not having any (peri)menopause issues so I wouldn't attend an event.

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