EVERY woman will face it, yet millions suffer in silence.
Menopause is the milestone in every woman’s life when her periods stop and hormone levels begin to fall.
It can wreak havoc on body and mind, impacting physical and mental health.
Chances are you’ve heard of hot flushes and night sweats – but they are just the tip of the iceberg.
A dense brain fog, depression, anxiety, irritability, sleepless nights, joint pain and more leave women feeling washed up and redundant.
Yet, women CAN have a healthy menopause given the right support and treatment.
That’s why The Sun today launches the Fabulous Menopause Matters campaign to empower women to demand the healthy menopause they deserve, and end the scandal.
We are calling for:
– Free HRT on the NHS for everyone
– All employers to put menopause support at the heart of workplace policies
– Action to bust taboos and help women thrive in menopause
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the most effective way to treat symptoms and doctors say that for most women the benefits far outweigh the risks.
But a flawed 2002 US study linking HRT to breast cancer has left many women reluctant to take it, and GPs refusing to prescribe it.
What’s more, unlike other hormone treatments like the Pill, women have to pay £9.35 for every NHS prescription they need, leaving many unable to afford it.
Whether through embarrassment or lack of access to treatment, women are left feeling abandoned and ignored.
Lisa Snowdon, our campaign ambassador, tells The Sun on Sunday: “It is hugely important that we get people talking about menopause more openly and honestly.
“I know myself how tough it can be and I want every woman to feel prepared with knowledge and know that they’re not alone.”
TV star and ardent menopause campaigner, Davina McCall hailed the “fantastic” campaign, backing our calls.
Meanwhile Fabulous columnist, Baroness Karren Brady, says it’s vital more support is available to women at work.
“Supporting women through the menopause, and it’s many varied symptoms, is not only good for employees, it’s good for businesses,” she says.
“It’s vital we get more people and companies talking openly about women’s health issues and ensure the support is there when women need it.”
FREE HRT FOR ALL
HRT is already free in Scotland and Wales, but England is yet to follow suit.
Dr Philippa Kaye, a GP and author of The M Word, says: “Charging for HRT prescriptions is a punitive tax on women and particularly unfair as often two (or even three) prescription charges are issued for what is essentially one treatment.”
And free access to this potentially life-changing treatment wouldn’t just benefit menopausal women.
It would benefit society at large; by treating women’s debilitating symptoms, helping them to stay in work thereby reducing the strain on families and the benefits system.
Pressure on the NHS could also ease, if fewer women were referred to specialist services for their symptoms, which could be treated.
Worn down, belittled and discriminated against – menopausal women too often are left struggling to maintain the job they’ve done for years.
A 2019 survey from Bupa and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that 59 per cent of women of menopausal age reported their symptoms had a negative impact on them at work.
Without adequate workplace support, women end up leaving their jobs or cutting back on hours, often scared to tell their boss.
Even doctors, who constantly tell us not to be shy or ignore our health, are secretly battling the turmoil of their menopause.
Some 90 per cent of survey respondents in 2021 said it impacted their work, with 38 per cent saying it was significant, according to the British Medical Association.
Yet only 16 per cent had raised it with their manager.
It doesn’t need to be this way.
Our campaign is calling for all employers to put menopause support at the heart of their workplace policies.
What is the menopause and what age does it usually start?
Menopause is a natural part of ageing, which usually happens when a woman is between the age of 45 and 55.
In the UK, the average age for a woman to go through menopause is 51.
It occurs when oestrogen levels in the body start to decline.
During this time periods become less frequent or they can suddenly stop, and after menopause occurs women will be unable to become pregnant naturally.
Around one in 100 women experience menopause before the age of 40, and this is known as premature ovarian insufficiency or premature menopause.
Many celebrities have spoken out about their own experiences, including Lisa Snowdon, Davina McCall, Michelle Heaton and Zoe Hardman.
What are the symptoms?
Menopausal symptoms can start months or years before your periods stop, and can last until four years or longer after your last period.
- Hot flushes
- Changing or irregular periods
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Anxiety and loss of confidence
- Low mood, irritability and depression
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness or discomfort during sex
- Reduced libido (sex drive)
- Problems with concentration or memory
- Weight gain
- Bladder control
Carolyn Harris, MP for Swansea East, who is championing the call for free HRT in Parliament, tells The Sun: “A good employer will take heed and make sure they have a policy in place.
“All we need is to make changes such as a uniform that breathes, regular breaks, access to a fan, allowance to work from home on bad days or at least work a later shift in order to avoid the rush hour commute.
“It’s not rocket science.
“We’ve also seen a lot of women who have told their managers that they are menopausal, and are faced with comments like, ‘Is that why you are making so many mistakes?’.
“If these women were treated with a bit more dignity and respect, and given the freedom to work around their symptoms, employers would keep valuable and experienced staff members who in a not too distant future, are going to be far more functional than at that moment in time.”
TIME TO END THE TABOO
Many women are unaware what to expect when the menopause happens, wrongly assuming it’s an occasional hot flush and end to periods.
Diane Danzebrink, found of Menopause Support, a community of around 20,000 women, told The Sun: “If I asked the first thing that came to your mind when I say ‘menopause’, you'd probably say ‘hot flush’.
“But 20 per cent of women don’t have hot flushes. The thing women find hardest is the psychological symptoms.
“The most common emails I get on a daily basis are from women who are anxious, have low mood, or are just not feeling themselves and don’t know why.
“Women feel like they’re going mad, like they are alone.
“The greatest risk for suicide in women is beteween the age of 45 and 54. The average age of the menopause is 51, and most women will start the perimenopause years before.
“This has been going on forever. There is no excuse. This is cheap, quick, and easy to fix.
“If we had more compassion and awareness, we wouldn’t have women leaving their careers when they are at the top of their game, we wouldn't have needless suffering, usually when their doctor is not educated on how to help all those women coming through the door.”
YOUR MENOPAUSE MATTERS
Over the coming weeks, we will share the heartbreaking stories from celebrities, MPs and members of the public who have battled to survive ‘the change’.
We will call on medical experts to help arm you with the tools to make informed and safe choices to empower you to enjoy a healthy menopause.
And we will beat the drum so everyone hears the message loud and clear – your menopause MATTERS.
Dr Kaye adds: “Women will live on average a third of their lives after the menopause.
“This campaign is vital to help women live this third with all the information they need – as happily and healthily as possible.
Half the population will experience menopause, it’s not something to shy away from.
It’s a milestone in life, one every woman should feel they can embrace rather than fear.
Fabulous Menopause Matters
An estimated one in five of the UK’s population are currently experiencing it.
Yet the menopause is still whispered in hush tones like it’s something to be embarrassed about.
The stigma attached to the transition means women have been suffering in silence for centuries.
The Sun are determined to change that, launching the Fabulous Menopause Matters campaign to give the taboo a long-awaited kick, and get women the support they need.
The campaign has three aims:
- To make HRT free in England
- To get every workplace to have a menopause policy to provide support
- To bust taboos around the menopause
The campaign has been backed by a host of influential figures including Baroness Karren Brady CBE, celebrities Lisa Snowdon, Jane Moore, Michelle Heaton, Zoe Hardman, Saira Khan, Trisha Goddard, as well as Dr Louise Newson, Carolyn Harris MP, Jess Phillips MP, Caroline Nokes MP and Rachel Maclean MP.
Exclusive research commissioned by Fabulous, which surveyed 2,000 British women aged 45-65 who are going through or have been through the menopause, found that 49% of women suffered feelings of depression, while 7% felt suicidal while going through the menopause.
50% of respondents said there is not enough support out there for menopausal women, which is simply not good enough. It’s time to change that.
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