I had to make a podcast to finally hear the truth about menopause
Written by Rachel New on May 4, 2021
“I’ve got another urine infection”, I said, plonking myself down in the GP’s chair, rolling my eyes as if this had been brought on by some silly mistake I’d made. “It seems to happen after every time I have sex, and actually, it hurts a bit to have sex these days, too.”
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My general practitioner (GP) looked sympathetic: head tilted slightly, eyebrows knitted together in concern. “A lot of women your age find this, often it’s new relationships, and they are having more sex than maybe they had been recently. Make sure you use plenty of lube, and don’t forget to go to the toilet straight after sex. Here’s some antibiotics, have a nice day.”
I was 51, the average age for a woman in the United Kingdom to experience menopause, but I didn’t know this then. Menopause wasn’t even on my radar because a) I was still having regular, heavy periods and b) I’d never had a hot flash, and all I knew about menopause was the cessation of menstruation and the occurrence of hot flashes.
Although my GP referenced my age, she (a woman of around 60) didn’t mention menopause in the consultation, and I had never heard the term perimenopause at this point.
When did all this happen? In the 1970s or 80s, perhaps? No. Four years ago, in 2017.
We’ll get back to my menopause story, or journey, or battle, however you want to label it, shortly, but let’s just stay with those numbers a moment. How is it that, in the 21st century, something that will affect more than half of the population, if they live to see it, is so under-discussed? That lack of conversation is across the board, between mothers and children, husbands and wives, even between close female friends.
No one talks about menopause, or they didn’t seem to in 2017. But more worryingly, medical professionals aren’t talking about it either, to each other or to us.
When I turned 50, I was invited for a breast scan as a matter of course, I get biannual invites to have a cervical smear, both of which I am extremely grateful for, but where was my leaflet at, say, 45 that outlined some of the symptoms of perimenopause and invited me to make an appointment with my GP if I thought I might be suffering some of them?