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The Appalling Silence On Menopause In Our Homes And Workplaces: Time To End The Stigma?

Silencing and stigmatisation of menopause can only make individuals reluctant to talk openly about their symptoms or seek help, leading to feelings of isolation and frustration.

I find it very interesting that menopause is another taboo subject both in homes and at the workplace alike. There are slight mentions by the mothers or the sisters at home about how it will happen when it happens, and you go through it, and blah blah.

The trivialisation of menopause is appalling

I recently realised all this while seeking advice to manage my menopause. I got advice aplenty, but nothing worked. I went in for a consultation with a gynaecologist and took her suggestion of getting a Mirena inserted. To my ill luck, my body didn’t accept the foreign body and I suffered for 10 days before getting it removed. I had a horrendous 10 days. Both my gyanec and I were very clear on unnecessary hysterectomy, and I was appreciative of that. My mind only went to the song – ‘No one told me life was going to be this way.’

While my mother had prepared me for it, the information sharing was not in depth, probably because I didn’t ask too many questions, but I was comfortable discussing it with friends. I realised through my conversations with them, and a few conversations on WhatsApp groups, that menopause is trivialised and therefore many women suffer through it silently or with very little noise.

Trivialising menopause can lead to a lack of understanding and empathy towards individuals going through this transition. It can minimize the physical and emotional challenges they face, making it difficult for them to seek support and validation for their experiences. Of course, like most sexist jokes, there are many jokes around women in menopause which pushes those going through it further into silence.

The need to normalise menopause at workplaces

While workplaces are still grasping the education and normalisation of periods, menopause and normalising it is an immediate ask. When women can’t discuss these issues openly, then it restricts their participation in the work environments and social interactions.

If menopause-related symptoms are not taken seriously, individuals may face challenges in the workplace, such as difficulties in managing productivity, managing relationships, and addressing specific accommodations they may need. It can also hinder their ability to fully participate in social activities or maintain healthy relationships.

We should begin with understanding perimenopause

What people don’t understand or even know is that women go through perimenopause which is the transitional period from before menopause to nearly a year after periods stop completely.

During perimenopause, levels of estrogen, a key female hormone, start to decrease. You may begin having menopause-like symptoms, such as hot flashes or irregular periods. Perimenopause can last for years. Both women and men need to arm themselves with this knowledge so that they can work around it. This is not about asking others to give women in this stage a pass, this is about being empathetic about it and ask questions if they don’t know. It is also for women to ask for help where required.

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This is almost like normalising periods in the society and in the workplace. But it’s not just about creating policies around it but ensuring there is enough knowledge and empathy towards it. No one is demanding that people put up with mood swings in the office, it’s too much to ask, however, providing education about how to handle menopause can help women handle their hormonal imbalances and their mental imbalances.

Women need to take back their power and their narrative

Silencing and stigmatisation of menopause can only make individuals reluctant to talk openly about their symptoms or seek help, leading to feelings of isolation and frustration.

For every woman out there, it’s important to understand what’s happening in your body and embrace the next chapter of your life with self-compassion. And as you enter an uncharted territory, even though many women have braved their path through it and yet share very little about it, it’s important you research and learn well in advance on how to manage it better than your previous generation and pay it forward.

I have seen quotes that speak glowingly of life after menopause, we will get to it when the actual pause happens. I relate to this Joan Rivers quote very well – “A study says owning a dog makes you 10 years younger. My first thought was to rescue two more, but I don’t want to go through menopause again.”

Let’s talk about menopause; spread awareness

It is important for society to promote awareness, education, and understanding about menopause, treating it as a normal and significant life stage. By fostering empathy, providing support, and encouraging open dialogue, we can help individuals going through menopause feel heard, validated, and empowered to manage their symptoms and overall well-being effectively.

I am not going to give medical advice here, please consult your gynaecologist when you hit your 40’s, educate yourself about menopause, and start understanding the changes in your body and act accordingly.

I love Michelle Obama for stating it the way it is – “The changes, the highs and lows and the hormonal shifts, there is power in that. But we were taught to be ashamed of it and to not even seek to understand it or explore it for our own edification, let alone to help the next generation.”

By the way men go through something called the andropause, which is something that bears an even worse treatment in not being spoken about. Well, another topic for another day!

Image source: a still from the series Bombay Begums

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