Take a (meno)pause: join the conversation with us on menopause
World menopause day on 18th October every year aims to raise awareness of menopause, and make us consider how we can support those affected by it.
In the recent past, the menopause was seen as a taboo and was a subject that people generally avoided talking about, even in medical circles.
Thanks to efforts of many individuals and organisations such as the British and International Menopause Societies, over the past few years the conversation has been evolving with attitudes changing and people becoming more knowledgeable. 2009 saw the first world menopause day, literally a milestone, with thought leaders like Meg Matthews and Gillian Anderson opening up and talking about their menopausal experiences. Menopause Café’s have been running since 2017 giving people the opportunity to meet and discuss challenges they face during this stage of their lives.
At the UK’s National Innovation Centre for Ageing we embrace listening, learning, talking and sharing about factors that affects someone’s life course, no matter how taboo or embarrassing it may be considered by others.
There are many well documented symptoms of the menopause with some of the most common being hot flushes, night sweats, low mood or anxiety and reduced libido. These can have a significant impact on women’s daily life and particularly on their work lives.
In a study by Newson Health, over 50% of women said they had time off work due to menopausal symptoms. , workplaces are starting to recognise the importance of supporting women going through the menopause and are introducing appropriate policies.
With the aim of facilitating conversation on this topic and understanding how to help women and organisations to better understand each other’s unexpressed needs, we created the Menomeetup series in January this year.
Led by NICA’s Senior Innovation Associate Meera Vijayaraghavan the workshops and events started in a pre-COVID-19 era and transitioned from a face-to-face to remote modality, without losing traction from a growing interested community.
Meera says “it has been my pleasure and honour to bring together people to talk about this subject openly and with a lot of laughter. Like many people, I did not think about the menopause, how it affected people going through it, the wider societal implications, and we can support people. Considering that half the population of the world will go through the menopause, a conversation needs to be happening so that we can abandon the stigma and stereotypes and recognise the true power of menopausal women.”
The feedback from the participants was of an informal enthusiasm: like many other factors in life, it is cultural stigma rather than the fact itself that generates a negative aura with respect to the normality of nature. The objective of our meetings is precisely to bring the conversation back to its proper normality, to its everyday appearance and to place it in a space free from prejudices. Some of the comments from the feedback forms include:
“Thank you for such a brilliant opportunity! To many more !!!”
“very useful and interesting event !”
“thank you it’s really a good start & step in the right direction for this important topic”
It is also interesting to note, as well as other taboos, that menopause is the subject of interest from the wellness and lifestyle industry. The so-called Femtech sector – technologies specifically dedicated to support the needs related to women’s health and well-being – is literally experiencing a boom yet to be explored in terms of effectiveness of solutions, acceptance by women and – above all – ethical considerations on data sharing and use. It is with an eye also to these aspects that from NICA we carry on our observatory on menopause and innovation.
If you want to be engaged or know more about our Menomeetups and our activities in Femtech please contact us.