Workshop: Time to have open and honest discussions on the menopause and its effects on women


An estimated 13 million women in the UK are living with the menopause. So why are so many enduring the turmoil of its symptoms without help and support? We asked Catherine Murnin, who is organising a workshop on ‘Wellbeing and the Menopause’, to offer her opinion on a taboo subject

Workshop: Catherine Murnin

By Catherine Murnin, founder of The Wellbeing Pathway

Dictionary definitions of the menopause describe it as “a time when a woman gradually stops menstruating (having periods), usually when she is about 50 years old.”

If we ask Google about the menopause, there’s an overwhelming amount of information and it’s often difficult to know what what’s fact, and what is fiction. Added to that, the menopause and the time leading up to and afterwards, is a very individual thing for each woman.

Wellbeing is about balance in our lives and having some control and choice over that. Women’s health is influenced throughout our lives by many things, and hormones are a significant factor.

From childhood, puberty, fertility, pregnancy, childbirth, perimenopause and the menopause, hormonal changes can affect our physical and emotional wellbeing and yet these changes are a natural part of the life cycle in our amazing bodies.

Although there are great examples of a holistic approach to supporting women in the lead up to and living with the menopause, there are many more where women are struggling for factual information, specialist clinical guidance, support in the workplace, in the family and generally a space to have open and honest conversations about symptoms and challenges as well as celebrating the opportunities that “The Change” can bring.

My memories of my grandmother going through “The Change” were negative. It was spoken about in hushed tones, a taboo subject, alongside avoiding my grandmother on one of her ‘off days’. My grandmother worked several jobs, tended to her garden, helped out with childcare and supported her husband in a home with no modern domestic appliances and an outside toilet. I never heard her complain.

Following an emergency hysterectomy in her early forties, my mum experienced the menopause, ill prepared and not well supported, yet not really talked about much at the time. It’s only now that I’ve been exploring different experiences from the tribe of women in my life, that I’ve recognised the impact that keeping a lid on how you feel has had on them.

The women that I’ve met over the past couple of years when I started to educate myself, ask questions and listen with an open mind, have taught me a lot and it can be complicated. Women are often seen as the nurturer, the softer side of the relationship dynamic, whether this be in family life, in the workplace, in society generally. Asking for help and support is often considered a sign of weakness. Bringing hormones into the conversation can be uncomfortable for some, especially if the messiness of sex and emotions are brought into the mix.

The reality is that the menopause and all that leads up to and goes after it is a natural part of women’s health. There is much to celebrate if the right support and information is available. As a collective society, at home, in work, in healthcare, in our communities, we can create opportunity to talk, share, learn and bring people together to embed wellbeing practices that will support women living with the menopause, and ultimately support all of us.

• Online workshop – Wellbeing and the menopause – Saturday, June 5. 10am to 12 noon. Email enquiries/bookings to Catherine Murnin: