Today, we bring you a special guest blog marking Menopause Awareness Month. Our Warwickshire County Council colleague, Abbie MacFarlane shares some useful information about the menopause and highlights some of the titles you’ll find on our library shelves and in our BorrowBox collection.
Over to Abbie…
October is Menopause Awareness Month. Recently, light has been shed on this all too common life stage. Thanks to Davina McCall and Louise Newson, The Menopause Doctor, menopause is becoming a mainstream topic and more people are accessing the support that they need.
Menopause is a natural life stage that most women and some trans, non binary and intersex people will experience. The average age of menopause is 52, although some will experience a medically induced menopause or may go through an unexplained early menopause. Menopause is the time in life when periods end but this can be proceeded by up to 10 years of perimenopausal symptoms that for some people can be really debilitating.
Everyone’s experience of menopause is different. There are so many factors involved including:
- Our understanding of menopause
- Our stresses in everyday life
- Our perception of the menopause and the end of fertility
- The support around us
- Our underlying health
- Our socio economic status
- Our background and cultural beliefs
The more we know about menopause and the more open conversations we can have, the easier it is to find the support that we need.
Menopause can be liberating. It can be a great time to re-evaluate our lives and be a little bit selfish. Take this time to find out more, be proactive and support yourself through this change.
Warwickshire Libraries have curated a great selection of books that will support your menopause journey.
Some highlights are:
If you are after some light relief from menopause “Older and Wider, a Survivor’s Guide to the Menopause” by Jenny Éclair is great fun. This is a Jenny Eclair’s whistle-stop tour of the menopause in all its glory and from its blurb, “will make you realise that it really isn’t just you”.
Two really great proactive reads are “Menopausing” by Davina McCall and “Preparing for the Peri Menopause and Menopause” by Louise Newson. Both have lots of great information and ways that you can support yourself.
If you feel that you never see menopausal characters in a novel, try “Woman of a Certain Rage” by Georgie Hall or “I’m Just a Teenage Punchbag” by Jackie Clune.
Woman of a Certain Rage: Eliza is angry. Very angry, and very, very hot. Late for work and dodging traffic, Eliza’s still reeling from the latest row with her husband Paddy.
Twenty-something years ago their eyes met over the class divide in oh-so-cool Britpop London, but these days their eyes only meet to bicker over the three-seat sofa. Paddy seems content filling his downtime with canal boats and cricket, but Eliza craves the freedom and excitement of her youth. Being fifty feels far too close to pensionable, their three teenage children are growing up fast, and even the dog has upped and died. Something is going to have to change – menopause be damned!
I’m Just a Teenage Punchbag: ‘I’m Just A Teenage Punchbag’ is a laugh-out-loud, sob-on-the bus journey through the so-called life of a middle-aged woman.
Ciara is mother to three ungrateful, entitled teenagers, is married to steady Martin, a man with hairy udders, and is grieving for her mum who now lives in the wardrobe in a cardboard box from the crematorium. She finds solace in her anonymous blog, and in the daily chats she has with her mum’s ashes (often the best conversations she has all day.)
Despite the menopause, the invisibility of middle age and the daily self-esteem bashings, courtesy of her kids, Ciara manages to navigate the stormy waters of grief and family life – until her mask slips and she is cast out from the family bosom.
For anyone going through early menopause, this book can be a great support. “The Complete Guide to POI and Early Menopause” by Mandy Leonhardt and Hannah Short.
Here’s a bit more about it from the library catalogue: Finding out in your teenage years or early twenties that you are ‘menopausal’ can be devastating, and cannot be compared to the more natural, expected hormonal transition at mid-life. Receiving the same diagnosis in your late 30s is just as overwhelming; learning you are ‘post-menopausal’ while undergoing fertility treatment at the age of 42 can leave you blind-sided.
Drs Hannah Short and Mandy Leonhardt are GPs who not only specialise in treating hormonal imbalances and menopausal health, but also have first-hand experience of POI and early menopause. This book offers a road-map to navigating the emotional and hormonal rollercoaster that is a diagnosis of early menopause.
Real life stories
If you want to move beyond the stereotypes of menopausal women, “We, The MBoldened- Real Life Menopausal Conversations”, edited by Caroline Harris is for you. Here’s what the publishers say about it: “M-Boldened: Menopause Conversations We All Need to Have is a book about menopause unlike any other. Its contributors, speaking from many different walks of life, open up the conversation in new and profound ways for people across the globe. Recognising menopause as a human rights issue that affects everyone everywhere, these 21 chapters cover an astounding range of perspectives, from harrowing experiences of surgical menopause, the impact on relationships and hormonal realities of transitioning, to revelations of shocking neglect in the UK criminal justice system and compelling chapters on menopause as a time of activism, rage, reawakening, transformation and realising your own power”.
There is a book for everyone. Get reading, empower yourself and do menopause your way.
After working in wellbeing for many years as a qualified nutritionist, a Mental Health First Aider and a wellbeing practitioner, I decided to turn my attention to menopause. Being peri menopausal myself, I started to notice that things that I previously found easy I was finding much harder and this was leading to feeling overwhelmed.
Working for Warwickshire County Council, I started to hear more conversations about menopause. After checking out the data, I knew that this was an area I needed to target. The first sessions I facilitated were full within a few days with 150 people on a waiting list. October, Menopause Awareness Month has led to a months worth of activities to support a holistic approach to menopause. Again, all sessions are full and the feedback has been amazing. Our peer support group is full of lively chat with people sharing ideas and support.
I am so pleased that this conversation has been started, long may it continue.
If you’re not yet a Warwickshire Libraries member and would like to find out more about joining, free, visit our ‘Join the library’ page here.
You can find out more information about local services and support surrounding the menopause on the Coventry and Warwickshire Wellbeing For Life page here.
You can browse our menopause book list on our Health and Wellbeing page here.