The Power of Sharing Your Menopause ExperienceJun 21, 2023
Menopause is making headlines, but far too many are still suffering in silence.
By Selene Yeager
We talk about menopause all the time here at Feisty Menopause. It’s right in our name, after all. Plenty of other people are talking about it too, including women with mighty big megaphones like Oprah Winfrey, Drew Barrymore, Gayle King, Naomi Watts, and myriad others. It’s easy to think that literally everyone is talking about it.
Except everyone isn’t talking about it, and specifically it seems that many of those who would benefit most from talking about it are still staying silent.
According to a UK Survey of over 4000 perimenopausal and menopausal women by the Fawcett Society reported last year in The Lancet, 45 percent of women had not spoken to their primary doctor about their symptoms.
Doctors themselves don’t appear to be talking to their patients enough about menopause. A new report from Elektra Health found that only about 19% of women ages 40 to 60 are diagnosed with menopause symptoms, despite the fact that 80% report experiencing them.
This silence isn’t doing women any favors at home or in the workforce. A survey published this past April in Mayo Clinic Proceedings reported that about 11 percent of U.S. women ages 45 to 60 had taken time off (with a median of 3 missed days) in the past year because of menopause symptoms. Women who had more severe symptoms unsurprisingly struggled more at work.
Just Google “menopause suffering in silence” and you’ll see everyone from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs office, to UK Police Federations, to pretty much every healthcare association imploring women to not suffer symptoms of menopause in silence.
Suffering in silence doesn’t just wreck your quality of life, it’s also bad for your health. A growing body of research has linked severe vasomotor symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats to chronic diseases like heart disease, depression, and cognitive impairment.
Menopause also isn’t just hot flashes and night sweats. Many women suffer from sleepless nights, brain fog, joint pain, and mood disturbances like anxiety, depression, and anger. Bottling up your feelings about all of this during menopause can be harmful to your health in and of itself. A 2022 study published in Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that among midlife women, “inhibiting self-expression” or “self-silencing” (especially around anger or difficult topics) to avoid conflict was associated with carotid plaque, independent of other cardiovascular disease risk factors.
We started Feisty Menopause and its companion podcast Hit Play Not Pause in the fall of 2020 to start a conversation about how perimenopause and menopause impact active, performance-minded women. Now 2 ½ years later, we have nearly 24,000 women in our Hit Play Not Pause Facebook group, reach tens of thousands of women each month through the podcast, and have a thriving Level Up menopause membership. Hundreds of women have reached out to say how much just sharing their experiences has helped them navigate this often-challenging time of life. Many have gotten the help they otherwise wouldn’t have found.
Having social support may not make your hot flashes or other symptoms go away of course, but it does bolster your resilience, help you feel less alone, and may even lower your risk for chronic disease. Plus, when you share what you’re going through with others—especially a knowledgeable healthcare provider—you’re far more likely to find the help you need to feel better!
So, let’s keep sharing our stories and inviting other women to be part of our community, so no one has to struggle on her own in silence.
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