Menopause and Therapy

Expressionist painting from Hokusai's Great Wave off Kanagawa in reds, yellows and black.

World Menopause Day 2021

Truthfully I don’t know how – or even whether – to celebrate World Menopause Day. What I do know is that if you are reading this, you may be seeking some clarity about your situation, whether for you or someone close to you.

Things are gradually changing for the better. Awareness-raising is increasing and more people are shouting about menopause, particularly those who are generally excluded from the mainstream narrative, for example: people who are LGBTQIA+, Black, neurodivergent, or who experience surgical or premature menopause. 

‘Why did nobody tell me?’ 

But there is so much more to do and, while society learns to adapt to the needs of this enormous population group, a lot of people are still floundering. Particularly those without the resources to have their voices heard via the media. But whoever you are, and whatever resources you have access to, you may still be wondering why no one ever said a word to you about peri/menopause.

Perimenopause is a Thing

I mean, you probably knew that – but if you’re in your 30s you need to be knowing about it now. If you’re in your mid-late 30s to early 40s and are experiencing changes in your mood or body, or exacerbations to existing conditions you may have, this may be peri and you need to know about it. You are not ‘too young’, no matter what anyone tells you. Looking back, mine started at 39 and possibly earlier.

Menopause is a Hormonal Transition

A hormonal transition means change. A change in outlook. A change in desire. A change in what you can tolerate. It may mean a shift in how you view your sexuality and your gender. I’ve spoken about this in a talk called ‘Menopause – Agent of Queerness?’

Menopause is Compounding and Multifactorial 

Whatever is already going on for you, whether connected to your identity or to your life experience, menopause is going to interact with it. If you are already affected by past or present trauma, mental and physical ill health, disability, financial concerns, domestic abuse, lack of resources, minority or minoritised identity, menopause will exacerbate it. (Eventually, it may help things too, but there is a lot to get through first.)

And the way menopause is promoted, and treated, in society mirrors systemic bias, whether ageism, racism, ableism, misogyny, or transphobia.

Menopause doesn’t only happen to Cis Women

Trans men and non-binary people also experience menopause. (I’ve written more here about the non-binary experience of menopause.) Seeing peri/menopause information, resources, discussions, social media posts, etc, addressed only to ‘women’ can actively hinder someone’s attempt to inform themselves and get support. There are negative health outcomes to this. Actually, lots of folks dislike the gendering of everything in healthcare particularly, especially being called ‘ladies’.

Menopause doesn’t only happen to White Women

As above, I could say the same about the whiteness of much menopause information and resources. People of colour’s experiences are barely being heard about or acknowledged. It’s not good enough.

‘I need help – but what kind of help?’

 In some corners of social media there is a certain pressure to be super positive about menopause. If you are seeking cheerleading, there are plenty of practitioners and they are easy to find.

But I’m thinking you came onto a therapist’s website because you need somewhere to talk about what’s going on for you on a number of levels. To name aloud what’s happening to you inside and outside. 

There may be anger, fear and shame. You may not feel able to talk about the things that are going on in your mind and body. Your working life and relationships may be in turmoil. You may be wondering who you ever were and realising that, looking back, it all felt like a costume. Parts of you may be opening up, and other parts may be shutting down.

You may be non-binary or trans or queer and have very few places to explore how menopause intersects with your life. You may be cis and straight but feel totally alienated by the mainstream menopause narrative. 

Whatever you need to bring, I can offer you a place to talk about it.

You can contact me here.


My Research is now Published!

Read about the experience of LGBTQ+ menopausal clients in therapy

I am delighted to announce that my research, ‘How can therapists and other healthcare providers best support and validate their queer menopausal clients?’ is published.

You will find it in the journal Sexual and Relationships Therapy, which is published by Taylor & Francis. SRT is the in-house journal of COSRT, the UK-based therapist organisation College of Sex and Relationship Therapists.

You can read more about this research on my other blog here.

Please check out my site queermenopause.com for more information on the project as a whole, and the resources page.

I started this project two years ago. I am incredibly grateful to the friends and colleagues who helped me shape my ideas, and to the participants who gave me their time and told me so many important stories.

If you are struggling with anything to do with menopause and would like to explore more deeply what is going on for you, you can contact me here.