WW General Manager, Anna Hill has spoken of the need to destigmatise menopause, ensure that the 48 known symptoms are recognised and break the societal taboo for future generations as she joined leading UK menopause campaigners for the latest Wellness That Works Podcast to mark Menopause Awareness Month 2021.
Joining Anna on the podcast is Heather Jackson, who founded the GEN-M movement, TV and radio presenter Jenny Powell, Olympian and mentor, Michelle Griffith-Robinson, Independent women’s journalist Maya Oppenheim and Smooth Radio presenter Angie Greaves.
WW released new research to mark the month which reveals that 61 per cent of women say there is a lack of understanding around menopause and 55 per cent feel there isn’t enough support, while two thirds (63 per cent) believe general awareness about menopause and attitudes in society need to change. Debating this issue, the podcast guests highlighted the need to tackle the stigma which remains around menopause.
“We have a responsibility to ourselves and the generations below to actually break the taboo and normalise the conversation.” Heather Jackson told podcast host Sam Rees. “GEN-M has found that there are 48 symptoms of menopause and if women don’t know what they are, how can we expect anyone to support us or take responsibility for ourselves?’
Most women only know between three and five of the symptoms of menopause. “These things creep up on you, your brain becomes foggy and you think, ‘crikey, have I got dementia?,” says Anna Hill.
The WW research confirms that menopause is still very much a taboo subject with only 1 in 10 women broaching the subject with their employer or line manager and 20 per cent saying they feel embarrassed to talk about the menopause.
16 per cent of women went through menopause alone and told absolutely no one according to the research, something which TV presenter Jenny Powell can relate to. Jenny told the podcast “It’s a lonely place for a lot of people, they feel like they can’t talk and share.”
Smooth Radio’s Angie Greaves believes tackling the stigma will help women be better prepared. “Menopause is going to happen!” she tells the podcast. “And if handled properly, it can become one of the most exhilarating parts of our lives.”
The WW study showed that nearly one in two (48 per cent) menopausal women said they weren’t prepared to handle menopause with 47 per cent saying they need more support with their health.
“Women feel paralysed, when they don’t have options. We need to give them the options from everyday brands and products on the shelves so they feel they can actually deal with this.” Says Olympian Michelle Griffith-Robinson, highlighting the role of brands and businesses.
Heather Jackson, who founded the GEN-M movement, told the podcast: “Two per cent of the population are vegan and so much money is spent marketing products to them. Twenty per cent of the population are menopausal and there is no sign of anything for us.” The WW survey reports that less than one per cent of menopausal women thought that brands and businesses were a source of good menopause support.
Reacting to these figures Anna Hill has pledged to take action. “Something needs to be done. At WW, we talk to thousands of women every week, so we will work with the likes of Gen-M and other partners to de-stigmatise this life change and provide better support for women going through the menopause.” says Anna.
Highlighting the impact the symptoms can have on women, Jenny Powell says: “My whole Mojo went. For the first time ever I was starting to lose my confidence. I was having a word with myself and saying, ‘Hold on a minute, that’s not me’.”
WW found that more than half (52 per cent) of menopausal women don’t understand the psychological impacts of the menopause, while 19% are concerned about the impact of menopause on their sex lives and 50 per cent say it has affected the quality of their sleep.
“The effects of the menopause can be devastating and WW is determined to change how this topic is dealt with. We need to end the stigma to ensure women are well supported and fully prepared so menopause can become an empowering and liberating experience for all women.” says Anna Hill.
You can listen to the lively panel discussion on the Wellness that Works podcast on Spotify and Apple Podcasts (links below). The episode will be aired from 5pm on Tuesday 26th October.
Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/2MfacFi