The last few years my focus has been on learning more about our menstrual cycle and how it affects our lives. Not just in the usual PMS and stomach cramp sense. But in the way our hormones affect other aspects such as our training, performance, injury, work, sex, relationships and so on.
This year my focus is on expanding my knowledge about perimenopause and menopause.
I have completed a few courses over the years and read a number of books and research papers. But with perimenopause and menopause making it’s way into the limelight recently, more research is (finally) being done. Which means there is new information coming out every day on how it affects us.
One thing that is starting to be realised is that although the physical symptoms of the perimenopause are well-known, the effect on mental health can also be far-reaching and devastating, having an impact on our work, relationships, and even finances.
A survey conducted by The Family Law Menopause Project and Newson Health Research and Education revealed that menopause can have an overwhelming impact when it comes to personal life. 1
Almost 80% of women who took part in a survey admitted that their perimenopause or menopause symptoms had a negative impact on their children and/or family.
When it comes to relationships 7 in 10 women (73%) who responded blamed the menopause for the breakdown of their marriage.
Disturbingly, a further 67% of the 1,000 women taking part claimed it increased domestic abuse and arguments.
And then there are finances, a subject so many of us never discuss and yet, something that impacts all our lives.
The survey found that more than half of the women who responded said that “perimenopause or menopause had (or will) make it harder for them to save for retirement and/or reduce their ability to save into pensions.”
Which is not surprising seeing as perimenopause and menopause affects our working life just as much as our personal lives.
Another survey conducted in the UK found that lack of support within the workplace had a direct impact on a woman’s decisions to leave her job.2
According to the women who responded, perimenopause is the second most devastating event to impact on their career, the first one being having children.3
The alarming reality is that women may be subjected to serious financial hardship as they go through perimenopause and head towards retirement. This is especially true if they have no other option but to quit their jobs due to lack of support, or if go through a divorce or separation.
The truth is that as women we can expect to spend more than a third of our lives after menopause. And that’s not including all the years beforehand journeying through the shit-storm that is perimenopause.
Which is why it’s vital that we get the support and treatment that we need, that can help us live our lives, our way.
After all, as Davina McCall points out in her book Menopausing, “nobody should have to lose years of their life to menopause, or perimenopause. No one.”4
Caroline Criado Perez talks about this in her book Invisible Women. We receive a pension based on the previous contributions that we have made. But we are penalised for taking time out for unpaid care work (of which women do 75% of), raising a family and early retirement (which is still a legal requirement in certain countries and professions). Hence we make less contributions and thus receive less benefits. Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez↩︎