Dear Liz Jones,
My surgical menopause left me feeling suicidal and as a therapist and menopause expert who now supports other women through this phase of their lives I can assure you that far too many women are suffering debilitating symptoms from a lack of information and support.
Nobody would deny that menopause is just a normal phase of life when it arrives in your mid-forties or early fifties but it’s different for every woman and for some the physical and emotional symptoms can severely affect their quality of life.
But when it shows up in your teens, twenties or thirties and brings with it distressing symptoms, emotions and the loss of fertility, these women have lost far more than their libido (which incidentally doesn’t happen to every woman).
Your judgemental commentary disrespects these women and their experiences, as it does for those women plunged into ‘medical menopause’ as the result of treatment for cancer.
As for menopause being ‘The new: I’m really, really stressed.’ Wow! You clearly have no idea just how life changing menopause symptoms can be for some women.
Having counselled a great number of them, I can report that far too many are being incorrectly diagnosed as depressed and prescribed antidepressants rather than having their menopause symptoms recognised and being offered the correct treatment of hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Many women feel they have no choice but to leave the workplace as a result of their symptoms and experience the breakdown of their relationships due to a general and professional lack of awareness, understanding and support.
Your dig at women in the public eye talking about the menopause and getting it on the news agenda is wholly misplaced.
For far too long menopause has been spoken of in whispers or not at all and millions of women have literally suffered in silence.
The willingness of celebrity women like Meg Matthews to speak honestly and openly about their own experience has resulted in raising awareness of what needs to change and has started many conversations that normalise menopause that might otherwise never have taken place. Kirsty Wark’s own experience led to her involvement in an excellent, informative documentary on the subject.
You are correct when you say that menopause can be a revelation and I am delighted to hear that it has been for you. Prior to my own menopause I would not have considered replying to an article or challenging your views on national TV as I was under the impression that as you have a column in a national newspaper, clearly, you must have more important points to make, thankfully the wisdom of the menopause has enlightened me but this is not everybody’s experience and your brush strokes are simply too broad and clumsy.
Perhaps the next time you decide to focus on an aspect of women’s health you could consider doing some research and writing something that is both factually correct and recognises that your personal experiences and opinions on menopause, men, sex or anything else do not represent all women and are not the yardstick by which all women must be measured.
I understand, of course, that you get paid for being controversial, so how much of what you write is truly your opinion is hard to judge but as you are currently afforded the privilege of a public voice in a national newspaper, please, before writing another inaccurate, unrepresentative and disrespectful piece, consider the potential impact and show a little empathy and compassion.