Professor Susan R Davis
President of the International Menopause Society
In times gone by, the average woman never lived to experience menopause and its effects. But, with a longer life expectancy, most women today will live 30-50% of their lives after menopause. Therefore, this is a biological change that we need to acknowledge, understand and support.
Menopause occurs when a woman’s ovaries lose their reproductive function; eggs are no longer released and estrogen and progesterone levels fall. Approximately three-quarters of women will experience hot flushes and night sweats due to low oestrogen, and one third will be moderately-to-severely affected. Women may also experience anxiety, low mood, disturbed sleep and vaginal dryness. Joint pain is a common, and often under-recognised, symptom.
Menopausal symptoms are too-often dismissed with the view that they are just part of life and will be transient.
There is a clear socio-economic imperative to support women experiencing difficulties consequent to their menopause.
Yet, studies have affirmed that menopausal symptoms substantially impair wellbeing, relationships and work function. The hormonal changes have long-term health effects including: bone loss, increased future-fracture risk, increased central abdominal fat, even without an increase in weight, and a greater likelihood of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Symptoms do not predict or indicate bone loss and other metabolic changes; these develop silently and occur in women with and without other symptoms.
The impact of menopause extends far beyond the individual
So, menopause matters. The inevitable hormonal changes that occur at menopause may cause, or make women vulnerable to, physical and psychological ill health.
The impact of menopausal symptoms extends far beyond an individual, impacting on relationships and the people that women support. The majority of women experience menopause at one of their busiest life phases. In addition to being in paid employment, at this time, many women are in caring roles for their own immediate family as well as other dependent relatives. There is a clear socio-economic imperative to support women experiencing difficulties consequent to their menopause.
The International Menopause Society: our goals
The International Menopause Society is a global organisation whose mission is to promote and support access to best-practice healthcare for women through their menopause transition and post-reproductive years. The goal is to enable all women to achieve optimal physical and psychological health and well-being through midlife and beyond.
Achieving this goal requires a multi-pronged approach. This involves health practitioner and community engagement with the provision of consistent health messages to the global communit; research into all aspects of the menopause and agin; and increasing awareness and understanding of the menopause amongst the global community, healthcare professionals and policy-makers. The IMS provides multi-lingual, culturally-sensitive health information to the global community, healthcare professionals and policy-makers, freely available through the IMS website and online via YouTube.
Menopause is unique for every women
Every woman’s experience of the menopause will be unique and the choices women make must be respected. However, it is critical that all women have easy and equitable access to evidence-based knowledge and healthcare, and are empowered to make fully-informed health choices. Menopause is a natural life event and not a stigma, and something we should all feel comfortable talking about.