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Can we talk more about menopause? From silence to support

Menopause, a natural process marking the end of a woman’s reproductive years, occurs when menstruation ceases for twelve consecutive months.

Typically occurring between ages 45 and 55 or due to surgical intervention, menopause brings profound physical and emotional changes that can challenge women. However, with understanding and proactive measures, women can effectively manage symptoms and maintain their health.

As a global health specialist focusing on women’s health, I have observed a concerning lack of awareness and support surrounding menopause. Recently, a post on Mama Tendo’s Facebook page caught my attention for its vibrant visuals and candid discussion on menopause beyond the stereotypical narratives of aging.

“My fellow menopausal women, Mujje twegeyemu,” reads the post by Annet Kizza Ronningsbakk, a mother of three, a journalist, and a teacher who has lived in Norway for the last 21 years. “How is this aging thing going on your end? Eno kika,” she goes on to write.

Reflecting on past experiences and societal attitudes, I recall hearing dismissive jokes about menopausal female teachers during my high school years. Back then, little effort was made to understand the complexities of this stage in life.

Now, as I approach this stage of life myself - please don’t ask for my age! - I feel compelled to address the stigma and misconceptions that surround menopause. It is time to empower women with the knowledge and resources they need to navigate this natural transition confidently.

For millions of women worldwide, menopause signifies a significant milestone — a time of both uncertainty and liberation. Globally, more than one billion women have already undergone menopause, with projections indicating an increase to 1.2 billion by 2030 (World Health Organization).

In Uganda, statistics show that 55 per cent of women experience menopause between ages 45 and 55, highlighting its prevalence and importance in our society, according to the East African Medical journal. Yet, in Uganda and many parts of the world, menopause remains shrouded in taboo, stigma and cultural misconceptions.

It is often viewed through lenses of loss rather than transition, perpetuating shame and insecurity among women. This narrativemust change.

The time to start a conversation is now. A conversation that includes women, men and younger generations. By raising awareness and fostering understanding of the physical and emotional changes associated with menopause, we can dismantle stereotypes and empower women to embrace this phase of life with dignity and grace.

Trisha Posne rightly said, “Our mothers were largely silent about what happened to them as they passed through this mid-life change. But a new generation of women has already started to break the wall of silence.”

Let us join this new generation. Let us break the wall of silence surrounding menopause. Let us approach this journey with curiosity, humour and compassion, celebrating the strength, resilience and wisdom that women bring to every stage of life.

Together, let us ensure that every woman feels supported and empowered as she navigates the transformative journey of menopause.
Menopause is not the end; It’s a new beginning - Anonymous.

The writer is a nurse/midwife and a global health specialist


+1 #1 Judith Hope 2024-07-10 19:51
Ladies, We got this !
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