Our partner Gen M (Generation Menopause) recently issued a ground-breaking study of 2,000 women between the ages of 35 and 60. They found a disturbing lack of awareness: 2 in 3 women were blind-sided by perimenopause symptoms. To make matters worse, 1 in 5 women visit their doctor six times before receiving adequate help or advice. Gen M has dubbed their study results "The Invisibility Report."
In our information rich lives, how is it possible that perimenopause and menopause are still back in the dark ages in terms of visibility? The Gen M study found half of women barely knew 3 of the almost 50 different potential perimenopause symptoms, and almost half were mostly or totally unaware of the mental and emotional symptoms.
The women in the study remarked that there just isn’t enough information available. Media sources don’t cover menopause, brands don’t cater to perimenopausal women and their needs, and it’s still taboo enough that women don’t generally discuss it. As a whole, women tend to suffer silently when it comes to menopause. It was hardly surprising that 96% of women responded enthusiastically to the idea of a dedicated, supportive web platform bringing together the best resources, experts, and tried and tested solutions for menopause.
Each woman’s menopause experience is unique
Peri/menopause symptoms differ for each woman; you may experience a few symptoms for several months, while another woman can experience the majority of symptoms for years. This makes it difficult for doctors and healthcare practitioners to identify and diagnose symptoms correctly. Sometimes, symptoms can mimic other illnesses or diseases, so there is often confusion around how to treat them. Add to that medical schools don’t really cover menopause in great detail, so many physicians aren’t prepared to diagnose perimenopause.
We need more information at all levels: the medical field, the media, brands who cater to women, and women at all ages and stages of life. The more we openly share our experiences and journey, the more others will understand about perimenopause. The more you know, the better armed you’ll be with questions for your doctor and the words to express yourself to family and friends.
Since the pandemic has families sequestered at home, women often experience a stronger feeling of isolation. Perimenopausal women are discovering their partners and children know nothing about what they’re experiencing. Given how little many women know about the subject, they’re unsure how to open a conversation with their families and doctors. How do you discuss something that remains unspoken in our lives today? The Gen M report found 41% of women going through perimenopause felt "lonely, invisible, irrelevant or dispensable" and 70% of women learned about menopause from their own experiences with it.
What women can do today about menopause
While women need to stand up for themselves and their health, we need better education. Doctors need better training based on research and more effective treatment methods for perimenopause and menopause. When everyone has a thorough understanding, it’s easier to talk to doctors and experts about your needs. But feel free to seek out another doctor if yours won’t listen to you about perimenopause and symptoms you’re experiencing.
We need a grassroots movement of women committed to perimenopause education in high schools, colleges, medical schools, the media, retailers, women’s brands, and especially in the workplace. Women should feel comfortable to talk about what they’re experiencing and seek help to alleviate their symptoms, whether they’re at home, at work, or elsewhere in society.
In addition, seek out tools to help you cope with your menopause symptoms. For example, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and massages can help with some physical and mental symptoms. Homeopathic treatments are common as well, and one of the best things you can do is to eat well and exercise regularly. Talk to a therapist if you’re struggling with anxiety, panic attacks, depression or other mental health issues. Find support by talking to other women for ideas and recommendations about the support you need.
As importantly, women must step up and talk about perimenopause and their experiences. If we bring menopause into the light and examine it with family, friends, co-workers, healthcare experts, and others, we can remove the taboo surrounding it. The more conversations we have, the more people will understand and the more normalized perimenopause will become. Women won’t need to hide in the shadows any longer.
If you haven’t, download a copy of The Invisibility Report for a good read. It’s heartening to realize you’re not alone with perimenopause; it’s heartbreaking to realize so many women are suffering in silence. For many women, perimenopause symptoms hit around the same time their careers become pressing, and they have families and elderly parents to care for. Their time is already at a premium, and they’re blind-sided by perimenopause symptoms wreaking havoc in their lives.
It’s time to break down the taboo around menopause, and educate everyone about the mental, emotional, and physical symptoms. Brands and retailers need to rise up to their responsibility for inclusion and representation of women everywhere, doctors must rise to the challenge of educating themselves about menopause to adequately help the women in their practice.
Education is the first step. You’ll find plenty of information on this website. The next step is having conversations about peri/menopause with partners, family, friends, daughters, nieces, and all young women so they’re not among the 66% of women blind-sided later in life. Let’s talk about menopause often until it becomes normalized around the world.