Why is there so little information available to help women understand the onset of menopause? What symptoms they can expect? If and when they should visit their doctor to talk about menopause symptoms?
Let me introduce you to the #Pausitivity #KnowYourMenopause poster campaign.
Launched in July 2019, in just a few weeks we have reached and helped many thousands of women in the UK, Canada and USA who may be fearful about what is happening to their body and mind as chaotic menopause hormones draw them closer towards the menopause years.
But we still need so much help!
Before I explain who ‘we’ are, can I share why I became involved in this campaign?
Why did I become involved?
I’m now many years post-menopause, but I recall with great clarity those scary days when symptoms started affecting me. The reason I do what I do now, education about menopause with nutrition, coaching and speaking, is to help other women transition through menopause and manage the time as effortlessly and positively as they can.
My menopause arrived early – in my early 30’s following the birth of my second daughter. It took seven years and seven doctors for a diagnosis, by which point I was begging for a solution.
Seven doctors over seven years! How ridiculous is that? I was offered beta blockers, the contraceptive pill, sent for scans, nodded sagely at and told initially it was the “baby blues”, and later when nothing changed to “come back in 6 months, see how you go”.
Yet nothing ever did change for the better! My symptoms became increasingly worse, particularly affecting my mental and emotional health. Crippling stomach pains that scared me if they occurred when I was driving, and the most debilitating fatigue. A few times I even slept through picking the children up from school.
Not once was it ever suggested that my symptoms could be hormonal.
Why? Because I was far too young for it to cross their minds.To be fair, it never crossed my mind too. I was ignorant of the word ‘menopause’ and what it involved.
I was a complete and utter mess. Lost all contact with the person I used to be, and I was frightened! I’d considered over those years that I’d had bowel cancer, a brain tumour, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, ME and probably more.
Eventually the doctors suggested anti-depressants. Good grief! I knew I wasn’t depressed!! I KNEW something was happening to me but didn’t know what it was.
FINALLY a friend suggested my symptoms could be hormonal and I consulted a private endocrinologist for blood tests. She confirmed I was a long way into menopause, hence the symptoms, and suggested the stomach pains could be down to endometriosis.
Armed with this knowledge I returned to my doctor, waving a piece of paper with the results on. I was both relieved that I finally knew what was happening to me, but oh so very angry that this hadn’t been considered many years before.
The response from the doctor was a shrug of the shoulders.
Age 39, following tests to confirm the endometriosis it was suggested that I have a full hysterectomy, sending me into full blown surgical menopause.
I vowed then to do what I could to avoid those symptoms when I weaned myself off HRT age 51, the average age for women ceasing periods for 12 months.
Applying all I knew, the transition wasn’t perfect, but certainly manageable, and that’s why I now help others so that they too don’t suffer as I did.
Yet that was over 25 years ago and still nothing has changed! Doctors and women alike are ignorant of menopause, the symptoms, and how to best manage them. There is a taboo around menopause. This is so wrong!
So along with 3 other ladies, I co-founded #Pausitivity and the #KnowYourMenopause poster campaign.
‘We’ are #Pausitivity
‘We’ are 4 women who have never met. Chatting together in a Twitter conversation about how we struggled with our own menopause onset, we were collectively upset, angry and frustrated that there is so little consistent information available to women introducing them to the symptoms of menopause.
Symptoms that creep up, to the point that women can be fearful of what is happening to their body and mind.
Symptoms that when they talk to their doctors may be dismissed. Often because doctors also aren’t familiar with menopause symptoms and progression possibly due to lack of training and in-depth information.
(The NICE guidelines for menopause do not provide adequate information or guidance).
The #Pausitivity team was born. With the simple aim of having the #KnowYourMenopause poster in as many doctors surgeries and public spaces we could to provide that consistent, reassuring information. Remove the fear and uncertainty.
Promoting on Twitter the campaign has snowballed! We have been overwhelmed by the level of support. And I mean truly overwhelmed!
City Councils, Trades Unions, Hospital Trusts, influential celebrities, MP’s, particularly Scottish MP’s, media doctors, Universities, Police Forces, influencers in the menopause world …. it’s been incredible the speed that the campaign has been picked up and embraced. Posters are now being displayed in so many workplaces, and we have so many #PosterSelfies for our supporters collage.
We have been told by one Health Trust that our poster is the “missing piece of the jigsaw”.
We also have an event in Westminster in the planning. More details awaited.
ALL women will go through the menopause. Just 25% will sail through with no obvious or very few symptoms. Leaving 75% with moderate to severe symptoms that affect every aspect of their lives. Physical and mental symptoms leading to deteriorating relationships with family, friends and work colleagues, yet most importantly the relationship with themselves.
Women don’t understand what is happening to their body and mind.
They don’t know who to talk to who will understand.
They don’t know how to communicate what is happening to them.
They’re fearful of going to their doctor.
They feel unsupported at home and in the workplace.
Symptoms can last for 10 years or more!
They feel they have lost contact with the person they used to be. They have changed, and they may not like that change.
Can you help us help more women?
Our campaign is gathering momentum, with it’s current success we feel we can’t stop now! But we do need to share our story on other media channels so the poster can reach out to even more women. We need to break the taboo and TALK menopause.
One of our members has already had her story covered in a full page article in the Scottish National and Scottish MP’s have been fabulous in their support leading to our pink posters being pinned up in many places in Scotland. She is now talking with STV.
Could you help us? Or know anyone who could?
If so, please do get in touch.