It is ‘ageist and sexist’ to talk about the menopause as if it is something unimportant that women should struggle through without medical help.
That is according to Kate Muir – author of ‘Everything You Need to Know About the Menopause’ and producer of Davina McCall’s menopause documentaries.
She was speaking after one of the authors of a British Medical Journal paper on the issue told Newstalk Breakfast that the menopause is a natural process that is being ‘medicalised’ by the media and the medical profession.
University of Melbourne Obstetrics and Gynaecology Professor Martha Hickey said that while some women experience troublesome symptoms during menopause, “most women are fine.”
On the show this morning, Ms Muir said she was ‘actually storming’ when she heard the interview.
“What is ageist and sexist here is that we haven’t been talking about the menopause and that the medical profession has been treating it as something unimportant we can get through.” She said.
She said she read Professor Hickey’s BMJ paper – and many of the studies cited were “were from the 1980s, from America and from just a few people”.
“When we did the Davina McCall programme that came out in May, we did the biggest ever survey in the UK of women who were menopausal,” she said.
“It included 4,000 women - a really diverse survey - and we found really shocking statistics about what women were honestly suffering.
“That found that 84% were sleepless, 69% had anxiety and depression, 73% had brain fog and 66% had sore and stiff joints – never mind the 70% who also had hot flushes.
“For me that was clear. That was a big message that the symptoms of the menopause are very different from what we’re being told. This was from women speaking to us. Not from doctors coming to us from the top down.”
Ms Muir said modern studies and medicines offer “really good news” about the menopause that should not be ignored.
She said the newer Hormone Replacement Therapies (HRT) on the market are entirely different products to the older models – and do not carry the same risk of side effects.
The author said a recent study from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology studied almost half a million people in the UK and found that those using newer HRT medicines had a lowered risk of breast cancer.
“That was astonishing,” she said. “We should be differentiating the old HRT medicines from the new ones and the old and new academic papers – and we’re not.”
Ms Muir said anyone experiencing menopausal or perimenopausal symptoms should contact their doctor.
She also said the Irish Menopause Group on Facebook is a “fantastic community” full of thousands of women who can offer advice and first-hand experiences.
You can listen back here.