Why is it so hard for some women to talk about menopause? The mere mention of the topic elicits a horrified look, promptly followed by a long pause and a “yeesh”. It’s not contagious, ladies. You didn’t just step in something gross. We all know that menopause has never been the topic of choice among mixed company, but when you’re in a room filled with women, you should feel free to discuss.
Part of the reason for these reactions can probably be blamed on the fact that menopause has a stigma attached to it. We can make jokes about the change, maybe mention it to our husbands or try to talk to our doctors. Few of us, though, can say we’ve really had an open conversation about our hormones, mood swings or anxiety attacks. Is it because if we do, it becomes real? Sure, it’s easier to pretend that menopause doesn’t happen. But it does.
Let’s face it. There are plenty of situations in life that lead to awkward conversations. We’ve all said or done things in public that we wished we could take back. You asked a total stranger how far along they were, except they weren’t pregnant. You called your husband’s boss by the wrong name for an entire evening. Or your mother-in-law points out that you had food stuck in your teeth at dinner.
Menopause is real. And here are a few examples of conversations that shouldn’t be awkward:
- Asking other women how they manage their hot flashes and night sweats.
- Telling your doctor all your menopause symptoms and wanting answers.
- Letting your husband know you need to sleep with the windows open in the middle of winter.
- Finding a friend to confide in. Or being that friend to someone else.
Until women become more comfortable talking about menopause, we shouldn’t expect our problems to go away. Would we like our fairy godmothers to come along and make everything better? Of course. But we should also hope for doctors, researchers, and anyone else involved in women’s healthcare to know that menopause is a huge concern for many women. And how do we make that happen? The next time a woman brings up the topic, make her feel comfortable, be compassionate, and thank her for sharing.