The menopause: a longstanding taboo that is finally being broken

It used to be referred to in hushed tones as ‘the change’, but the taboo around the menopause is finally being busted, liberating millions of women from suffering in silence

Lorraine Kelly, a presenter, shared her personal experience with daytime television. Davina McCall has made two documentaries about it. Mariella Frostrup’s survival handbook tackled it with sound advice and wry humour.

Celebrities Michelle Obama and Gwyneth Paltrow merrily discuss their menopauses. It’s a long-standing taboo that is finally being broken. 

The menopause revolution is – quite literally – being televised.

A third of all UK women are either perimenopausal/menopausal at any one time. Over 75% of women experience psychological or physical symptoms. These symptoms can include hot flushes, brain fog, insomnia, brain fog and brain fog. These symptoms can be severe for more than 25% of women and last up to seven years on average.

Frostrup paired up with health journalist Alice Smellie on the book Cracking the Menopause, after perimenopausal symptoms “severely affected” the former’s quality of life. They have since started a campaign together. Menopause MandateThis is a call for better menopause provision in Britain.

The growing conversation has inspired new measures at the UK’s House of Commons, which unveiled plans in June to become a “menopause-friendly” employer. Speaker of the House Sir Lindsay Hoyle said he wanted to “break the taboo”, and committed to supporting menopausal employees. This follows on from the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s announcement in March of a “world-leading” menopause policy at City Hall, including leave for women experiencing severe symptoms and flexible working. 


Davina McAll, TV presenter, has a candor about the menopause that is attributed to an increase in women seeking HRT. Image: Kate Martin

Meanwhile a national shortage of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), which has forced some women to buy or barter for medication on the black market, is being attributed by suppliers to the so-called ‘Davina effect’. After her documentaries, prescriptions for HRT rose by 50% in the year to January due to the huge increase in awareness about the benefits.

The government responded with an HRT Taskforce, which was created to address supply chain challenges and draw on lessons from the Covid-19 vaccination rollout.

Despite all the progress made, there is still much to be done, especially in the workplace. One poll found that a lack of menopause support at work could lead to a million women losing their jobs this year. Koru Kids surveyed 2,000 women and found that it had the second-most devastating effect on careers after having children.

This is a big issue, and we need big solutions – but they don’t need to be complex

A Channel 4 study found that 80% of respondents were satisfied with the results. McCall’s documentaryA majority of women say there is no basic support from their workplace, while more than 40% claim that their colleagues treat menopause like a joke.

MP Carolyn Harris, chair of the all-party parliamentary group on menopause, said: “This is a big issue, and we need big solutions – but they don’t need to be complex. Women need support – and for them to get that, we need to ensure that medical professionals are getting the right information and support too.”

Main image: Mariella Froup and Alice Smellie

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