An award winning women’s health advocate is calling for people to have open – and inclusive – conversations around menopause in the workplace, as research reveals disparities in care.
Women of colour are more likely to enter menopause earlier, have longer lasting and more intense symptoms – yet have a delayed diagnosis.
Yvonne Bignall, a qualified menopause wellbeing practitioner, believes it is important to talk about the transition and seek help.
She said: “It’s important to talk about the menopause, represent women from diverse backgrounds and tackle inequalities.
“The menopause may be an inevitable part of life, but it doesn’t have to be a negative one, shrouded in stigma or misconceptions.”
Images of menopause often depict white women, with white hair, clutching a fan.
And the Fawcett Society Report found 45 per cent of Black and minority women said it took many appointments for their GP to realise they were experiencing the menopause – compared to 30 per cent of white women.
Menopause and the workplace.
The government recognises the menopause may impact on women’s physical and mental health, workplace participation and personal relationships.
It makes ten recommendations to support the affected population, including ethnic minority, disabled and LGBTQ. It suggests workplace awareness, training and support.
Yvonne, who has gone through the menopause, is aware many women battle with multiple symptoms and little support.
The best-selling author of Suck it Up or Change, said: “It’s vital all women going through the menopause, regardless of race, get the support they need to have a good quality of life.”
Yvonne is the UK Healthcare and Wellness chair of the G100 Global Network, which works to create an equal, progressive and inclusive environment for women worldwide.
She also heads Permission to Thrive, a community where members can gain insight from an array of health and wellness practitioners, hear inspirational stories and offer each other practical support.
It includes a taboo-breaking conversation circle, which includes menopause, to encourage more open discussion.
A study by University College London found more than 90 per cent of postmenopausal women were never taught about the menopause at school and over 60 per cent only started looking for information about it once their symptoms had started.
Yvonne, a former Miss Universe bodybuilding contender, said: “Conversations bring about change. Awareness, education and understanding will help women today and generations to come.”
The menopause is when a woman’s periods stop due to lower hormone levels. But symptoms usually start months or years before the periods stop and this is called the perimenopause.
It can cause anxiety, mood swings, brain fog, hot flushes and difficulty sleeping. This can impact on relationships, social life, family life and work.
Research shows physical activity and a healthy diet can help with symptoms and future health risks.
Yvonne, who is certified in physical intelligence coaching, which uses techniques to help manage hormones and improve performance, said: “I work with many women who juggle a lot of plates and don’t prioritise their own self-care. If you look after your own wellbeing, you will be healthier, happier and are likely to live longer.
“The menopause can be a positive turning point in a woman’s life. It can be a time to take stock and make beneficial change.”
Yvonne will be running a 12-month self-care journey from January 2024 for women entering peri and menopausal phases of life as well as those ready to take charge of their health.