The menopause has been in the spotlight a lot lately – from Davina McCall's 'eye-opening' Channel 4 documentary, Davina McCall: Sex, Myths and the Menopause to a new study into its impact on women at work.
Now the royals are getting involved in busting the taboo around the topic. The Countess of Wessex has spoken about her own experience of going through the menopause, describing losing her train of thought on royal engagements and feeling as if somebody had 'taken her brain out'.
Speaking to Sarah Jane Cale, founder of the Positive Menopause website, which offers information and advice for menopausal women, by video call last week, Sophie became the first member of the royal family to discuss her menopause experience in such a personal way.
Sophie called for franker conversations surrounding the subject and more support for women as she became patron of the charity Wellbeing of Women. The 56-year-old described her experience with hot flushes, memory loss and brain fog — which are all widely reported symptoms of the menopause.
The countess said: 'You know in the middle of a presentation when you suddenly can’t remember what you were talking about, try being on an engagement when that happens – your words just go.
'And you’re standing there and going, "Hang on, I thought I was a reasonably intelligent person, what has just happened to me?"
'It’s like somebody’s just gone and taken your brain out for however long before they pop it back in again and you try and pick up the pieces and carry on.'
She also discussed the role that men play in supporting their partners through menopause, saying that the 'majority of men can be very empathetic':
'Again it’s about making sure that they have the knowledge to be able to, rather than if you say, "Please can I get a fan?", without even questioning they will go, "Well of course you can", rather than saying, "Why on earth do you need that, what’s wrong with you? It’s winter outside. It’s snowing. Why do you need a fan?" – to be able to make that leap more quickly.'
During the call, Sarah Jane Cale shared that one in four women in the workplace has considered leaving their jobs when reaching the menopause.
To which the Countess responded: 'Really we should be celebrating the fact that we don’t have to have periods any more – it should be a liberation, but it feels like a shackle.
'It’s described as something incredibly negative.
'Yes, it’s an admittance of the fact that we’re getting a bit older, we’re not as young as we were before, we’re not being, you know, to use the word "productive", we are past that stage, and it’s quite a moment to admit it.'
For information on perimenopause and menopause visit the NHS website or visit your GP if you're struggling any of the issues mentioned in this feature.
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