Will our daughters and granddaughters be facing the same silence when their menopause comes?
We asked our favourite Loose Woman, Andrea McLean, how the menopause has impacted her family through the generations.
‘My mum was forty when she started her journey through the menopause. I can remember her becoming short-tempered with us, culminating in some sharp words in the car one day. Dad pulled over and stopped, as mum glared out the window looking thunderous. “Girls,” he said, as he turned to face us in the back seat, “your mum is going through ‘The Change’, and we all need to be a bit more patient with her. Okay? That means no winding each other up, and be nice, alright?” We nodded, and nothing more was said. Ever. I had no idea what this ‘Change’ was, but it didn’t seem great. Mum eventually calmed down (thanks to HRT I later found out) and life returned to normal.
I asked my mum about this recently and she mainly remembers crying more (my mum is not a crier) and just not feeling like herself. When she went to see her (male) GP, he told her it was just her age and that was that. She changed doctors and her new (female) doctor immediately told her she needed HRT. Within weeks, she started to feel better and was on it for the next 15 years. She says she didn’t even know it existed when her mum went through it, also at the age of forty. She can’t recall her mum ever mentioning it, until years after she had come out the other side.
All that whispering
I didn’t intend to tell the world about my hysterectomy and menopause. I was hesitant for a couple of reasons; I didn’t feel like it was anyone else’s business, and I also didn’t want people to think I was over the hill. I’m glad that I was open about it now, because I’ve had so many people stop me and thank me for doing it, for making them feel that they aren’t the only ones going through it. I’ve had female celebrities whisper to me that they are going through it too, and ask me for advice while swearing me to secrecy, because they don’t want the industry to think that they are ‘old’ and are terrified that they’ll be replaced by someone younger and ‘fresher’.
It’s a shame really, that nothing has really changed since my grandmother’s generation, when they didn’t talk about it, to our supposedly enlightened times when we are apparently free to “be who
we wanna be, and do what we wanna do”. That attitude only seems to count if you’re young and restless, shaking things up a little; not if you’re middle aged.
I genuinely don’t understand this attitude, and I think it’s up to us, as mums and grandmas, to educate our sons and grandsons about what women are really all about. I talk to my teenage son about how his body and mindset has and will change because of hormones at different stages of his life, so surely it’s common sense (and basic biology) that females will go through the same thing? If the next generation of educated boys grow up to become enlightened men, I’m hopeful that my daughter, when her time comes, will not have to fear mentioning ‘The Change’ in case she is thought of as old and past it by her male bosses and peers. Hopefully by then, there will be more people in general, both male and female, who will see it for what it is; a normal part of life.’