Growing up, if you were lucky, there was someone around to help you through getting your first period. Maybe it was your mom, coming into your room with a hug and some words about Becoming a Woman. Maybe it was your dad, running out to the drugstore to pick up maxi pads and ice cream. Maybe you had a sister or a best friend or a cool aunt who bought you a “First Period Kit” or who was there to share stories and support.
Farther down the road, if you went through pregnancy and motherhood, you may well have found yourself fairly drowning in advice, offers, products, and commentary. Maybe your neighbors threw you a baby shower, or maybe your co-workers surprised you with a “Congratulations!” cake in the break room. Maybe your mom shared tips on teething or the things that helped her make it through morning sickness.
And then we get to menopause. The average age for entering menopause is 51, with most women starting to experience perimenopause in their 40s. Over a million women reach menopause every year in the United States alone, and there will be 1.1 billion experiencing menopause worldwide by 2025. That’s a lot of people—roughly 12% of the global population—so where's the sheet cake to mark this stage of life? Why is this topic still considered taboo? Why didn’t your mom tell you what was coming?
In 1986, the hit primetime TV show The Golden Girls opened its second season with the episode “End of the Curse,” which finds outspoken and preternaturally confident Blanche suddenly devastated to learn that she’s not pregnant but has, in fact, entered menopause.
Still from "End of the Curse" from THE GOLDEN GIRLS REVIEWED BYIt’s clear that this isn’t something she’d been mentally or emotionally prepared for:
“I just don't know how it happened. You know, only yesterday, I was Magnolia Queen. I remember my Aunt Lynette going crazy about that time, my mother saying in a hushed voice, ‘Oh, she's going through The Change.’ I thought, ‘Poor Aunt Lynette having to go through this change thing.’ I had no idea what it was, but I knew one thing for certain, it was never going to happen to me. Now here I am. I'm Aunt Lynette.”While we’ve come a long way from having to whisper about “The Change” in the decades since this Emmy-winning episode aired, a recent landmark study in the UK shows that women in 2022 are still suffering from the lack of conversation around menopause, with nearly half of the 4,000 respondents saying they haven’t even spoken to their doctors about menopausal symptoms due to the stigma. In a 2021 survey of over 1,000 US women between aged 40-65, only 9% said they’d spoken to their mothers about menopause.
So, if your inner circle never talked to you about menopause, maybe now is the time to take the lead and start asking around. Maybe call that cool aunt or that best friend, or bring it up with your children—they might thank you for it. Former Embr Labs employee Alexandra recalled:
“I knew that women went through menopause, but I had no idea that hot flashes and brain fog were part of that experience until I joined Embr. I remember asking my mom, ‘Why didn’t you tell me?!’ She just looked at me and said, ‘I thought you knew.’ Glad that I know now, but wish that it was more normal to talk about like menstruation.”
Photo courtesy of Dee D.
“I was in my early twenties, in college, when my mother had a total hysterectomy. That was my first foray into the menopause conversation. Unfortunately, we didn’t talk much more about it, other than the fact that her mother had also had a hysterectomy. I wished that was something we could have talked more about, but I probably wasn’t ready. However, my girls have watched me walk through it. I have tried to share just a little with them (as much as they are ready for). And my main mission has been accomplished—giving them a timeline of when they can expect to hit menopause! Hopefully, they will have a more informed experience when it’s their time.”
Whenever and however it happens, we hope you’ll find time to start having these conversations with the people you care about. Maybe you’ll even be able to use your Embr Wave as a conversation starter. As beautifully stated by Stacy London, TV personality and founder of the wellness company State of Menopause, the important thing is to start talking:
“Not discussing menopause doesn’t help anyone, doesn’t serve anyone, doesn’t prepare anyone. What not discussing menopause does do is keep us ashamed of it. And it’s shame, not menopause, that’s truly not sexy.”