Today is #WorldMenopauseDay so we were excited to catch up with Anna Kramer, our Head of People and new Menopause Ambassador. Anna pledges to support colleagues going through peri-menopause and menopause, to raise awareness and help to remove any stigma around talking about this important subject:
Over the last few years, there has certainly been more publicity about menopause and how it impacts women. Unfortunately, I have also noticed that in some circumstances the awareness campaigns, articles, and blogs have also invited negative reactions.
In just the past 2 weeks, I read an article about Shirley Ballas, who has spoken candidly about her menopausal journey while fronting a new campaign for QVC to mark World Menopause Month. Shirley said she felt like she had “no support” during her journey and she was speaking out to end the stigma of talking about menopause. It was a really well-written and engaging article but when I viewed the comments section, I was saddened to read exactly the types of comments I was fearful would be written “women have been going through this for centuries, get on with it” and whilst it’s true, women have been “getting on with it”, many have also been suffering in silence, dropping out of the workforce and in extreme cases losing their lives.
Being a peri-menopausal woman (a stage where hormone levels start to drop) I have felt embarrassed to talk about or admit that I have been dealing with, at times debilitating symptoms for over 2 years; from sleepless nights, brain fog, increased migraines, mood-swings, palpitations, severe monthly pain and generally feeling like I am falling apart! Initially, I didn’t understand what was happening to me however after many attempts to seek help from my GP practice, I managed to find a very sympathetic doctor who was able to reassure me that everything I was experiencing was perfectly normal and she was able to prescribe me oestrogen and that has helped to ease some of my symptoms.
So why did I stay silent?
It’s something I’ve thought about a lot… and in truth, there were a few reasons why I kept quiet;
I was embarrassed to speak about female issues
I didn’t want to look weak or unable to cope
That I’m seen as “past it” and not as passionate or as ambitious as I was in my 20s, 30s, and early 40s, all of which I know is not true.
What changed my mind was the thought that I’m not alone in experiencing these issues and by talking about it, I may be able to help others; my colleagues, and future generations. I have 2 daughters and 3 granddaughters and the thought that menopause may still be taboo and a barrier to their careers when they reach that stage of their lives is not something I want to accept.
So, I’m adding my voice to the campaign to break the stigma and encourage discussion, learning, and understanding so that anyone who does struggle, feels empowered to come forward and ask for help.