Menopause and Midlife
The facts about midlife and menopause
Latest research shows that the silence and taboo that has surrounded menopause for decades is contributing immensely to many of the symptoms and issues presenting for women. Opening conversations in safe spaces has proven to be very powerful in the Midlife Women Rock Cafes in Waterford.
Women to women support has enabled and empowered women to pro-actively take on menopause, take control of their lives and look upon menopause through a new more positive lens. With many women returning to the workplace or changing careers, my vision is to see these safe spaces open up throughout Ireland.
Early menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) refers to a menopause occurring well before 51 years of age, the average age of menopause in Ireland and the UK.
Statistics reveal that 1 in 100 women under 40, 1 in 1,000 under 30 and 1 in 10,000 under 20 experience POI. In the UK, 110,000 women aged between 12 and 40 years have been diagnosed with POI. For information and support, visit the Daisy Network website.
40 - 50 age
This is the transition period leading up to menopause. Fluctuating hormonal levels. Begins in your 40s. Lasts 2 – 10 years.
Most symptoms appear during these years due to fluctuating hormones. Women need to be aware of symptoms as too often perimenopause is misdiagnosed.
50 - 55 age
Menopause is a retrospective diagnosis
Average age in Ireland and the UK is 51 years. Menopause is a retrospective diagnosis. A woman has reached menopause if she hasn’t had a period for 12 consecutive months if over 50 years and 24 consecutive months if under 50 years of age. Contraception is an important consideration until post menopause. As women transition through menopause, with support they can discover a new rhythm as emerging research points to midlife as a powerful period in a woman’s life filled with opportunities and second chances.
55 plus age
Beginning of menstrual-free lifestyle. Symptoms ease. Hormone levels stabilise. Begins in your 50s and lasts the rest of your life.
Symptoms settle with many women finding a new zest for life, changing career or seeking promotion. Statistics show we have the greatest number of women today moving through their 50’s who are educated, economically independent, fit, healthy and better than any other time in history, with scientists pointing to their being one billion women experiencing menopause by 2025!
Menopause and Transgender
A transgender person is a person who does not identify as the gender they were assigned at birth.
For those assigned a female gender at birth who may eventually identify as male, it is important to become aware that if transition to male involves removal of the uterus and ovaries, immediate menopause ensues. If the uterus and ovaries remain, testosterone is still prescribed in high doses which decreases the production of oestrogen thus causing menopause symptoms. Education information and support is key. For information and support, visit the Transgender Equality Network Ireland website and NHS Transgender website
Menopause, leadership and employment
There was a very interesting academic paper published in 2019 titled “Killer whales Killer women” by an Australian academic.
It refers to the scientific work carried out in recent years on whales and menopause. Whales, post menopause, naturally become the leaders in their pods, respected for their experience and wisdom. There is much emerging research on the role of the post-menopausal woman in the world today with empowerment and leadership as recurring themes. As the number of women experiencing menopause continues to increase and life expectancy continues to expand, a woman aged 50 today can expect to live for another 40 years. In reaching out and finding ways to access our inner wisdom, women can open up to new possibilities and thrive in the next chapter of their lives. Mary Portas, Kamala Harris, Melinda Gates, Michelle Obama are just some of the leaders in this cohort.