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Published October 2017

‘Taboo’ or not ‘Taboo’

“Taboo or not taboo – that is the question” (apologies to Shakespeare who would have known very little about the menopause, because the average life expectancy of an adult Elizabethan was around 35 years and very often women died soon after this having had a succession children in their teens and twenties). They certainly wouldn’t have had to deal with menopausal symptoms lasting five years or more and with many extended years of post-menopausal health issues that are common in the 21st Century!

There has been a great deal of press coverage about Menopause being a taboo subject and one that needs to be talked about. We wholeheartedly concur! Following World Menopause Day on October 18th we have been considering whether the taboo on the subject of Menopause has been lifted, or if there is still more to be done to help women through this difficult period of their lives.

It is encouraging that celebrities such as Angelina Jolie and Pasty Kensit are coming forward with their stories. Going a step further, TV presenter Lorraine Kelly has recently opened up about her experiences of the menopause and spoke about it on ITVs This Morning as well as launching a new campaign ‘The M Word’. The driving force of the campaign is the result of a surprising survey which revealed that 45% of women felt they couldn’t even talk to their friends about the menopause.

Kirsty Wark made an excellent BBC One programme, The Menopause and Me, in April this year. Jennifer Saunders, Zoe Ball and Ruth Langford have also shared their menopausal experiences, with Ruth hoping to swap her ‘hot flushes for hot moves’ on BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing this season!

Hot flushes, tiredness, anxiety, mood swings and depression are recognised, talked about and even the acceptable subject of jokes amongst friends and in the media.

So whilst we seem to be breaking down the stigma surrounding ‘The M Word’, why is one of the most common symptoms associated with the menopause, vaginal dryness, still the silent taboo?

This extremely uncomfortable symptom is so ‘hush hush’, that many find themselves shocked when they enter the menopause, and unable to discuss it with their partner, friends or health professionals.

It is unlikely that any celebrities are going to admit to this distressing and highly personal symptom, and yet it is the one that can have a serious effect on relationships and in some cases lead to the breakdown of marriages and partnerships.

15% of pre-menopausal, and 57% of post-menopausal women experience vaginal dryness, and 33% don’t even report the symptom to their doctor1. We want to tackle the vaginal dryness taboo for all the women who are silently suffering – it’s time to talk!

 

References

[1] https://www.womens-health-concern.org/help-and-advice/factsheets/focus-series/vaginal-dryness/

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