As Christmas fast approaches with Covid hot on it's heels, as we all wait with baited breath to find whether we will indeed be celebrating or comiserating this year, I am feeling strangely festive. But, listening to some seasonal music this much warbled line made me stop and think. How much of my work this past year, a year in which I gave up my career to, well, let's face it, focus on services for women, has really considered good will towards men?
Much of my work nowadays is either yoga to support women with all life stages, or massage for women to support all life stages or more recently as a certified menopause mentor. You might have noticed that menopause is a hot topic right now (no pun intended) but rather than it being just a fad, menopause is a real issue that needs societies attention.
Women make up half the population and ALL women will go through menopause, yet during their training, General Practitioners have 8 hours of training (8 hours in 6 years, wow). There is a much repeated phrase "if men had to go through menopause there would be XYZ available" and this perhaps is true. I listened to a podcast recently where a female Menopause Specialist asked her Husband, a Urologist how many men would have their testicles removed and be sent home from hospital with no medication or information. He replied, they would not even make it to the door. Yet women are entering surgical menopause after having their wombs and or ovaries removed and in many cases are given no information, no medication, nothing. So, we really do need to make significant changes to the training of GPs. But what about the rest of us?
So, an idea started to seed, back to the title here "On Earth Peace and good Will to all Men" - what do men need to know about menopause? There's an army of women on Instagam #makingmenopausematter and recently this campainging brought about new legislation which is 3 fold. Free HRT for all women, GP's to have proper education on Menopause in their training and for Menopause to be discussed in schools with boys and girls. So again, I come back to men. What do men need to know?
Now, this is without judgement or criticism but, to use the title of the Mel Gibson movie, do men know "what women want" ? Menopause is tough for women, really tough. There are 37 common symptoms but many, many more that are more obscure and there is no way of knowing which you'll get or if at all - 20% of women have no symptoms to speak of. But for the women who do, they can be life changing. Women at the top of their game at work with brain fog so bad they can't even recall simple tasks. Hot Flushes so severe that the confidence to talk in public diminished. Genitourinary Symptoms of Menopause so debilitating that they frequently need to go to the toilet which leaves them cripled with embarrasment as urge incontinence is literally like flicking a switch, or find it's just too painful to sit on a chair. Mood swings so impactful that it might appear they've had a personality transplant. Sound like fun? Not so much. But what of our male colleagues who might make a joke to lighten the mood, our husbands who are on the receiving ends of our moods and think we've lost the plot, our male friends who god help them tell us to calm down and get a grip. And let's not even talk about intimacy or libido, that has long since left the building. I know, I know, it sounds like damned if you do, damned if you dont - so how are men supposed to respond to Menopause?
Well, here's my idea. A workshop for men, a safe space in which to learn and discuss:
what menopause is - what happens to the female body during this transition
what the common symptoms of menopause are and a tool kit of useful solutions to support the woman in your life (for work and for home)
why a woman might say X and mean Z - demystifying midlife
when alarm bells ring, how to spot when things go wrong and where to go for assistance - a new phenomenon is an emergence of suicide in menopausal women
a practical breathing exercise for you (as it can get a little fraught. we do understand)
Q&A time and space to share
I hope that this will go someway to support men to help them understand what is happening to the woman in their life and acknowledging that it isn't easy but with some gentle adjustments you'll all get through it. Sound like something you would want to attend? Then join me one Saturday morning in February in Salisbury City centre (to be announced) and we will help you find peace on earth and good will to all men.
Merry Christmas one and all, I wish you health, I wish you happiness, I offer you peace