Redditch MP Rachel Maclean’s own menopause experiences have led her to become an enthusiastic support of our campaign, and, following a meeting with Diane Danzebrink, she says she is “on a mission” to bring the subject higher up the government agenda.
Rachel hit an extra problem when, in her 50s, she started a new life as a Member of Parliament – migraines, which had affected her for most of her life, suddenly got worse.
“Because I didn’t suffer from any of the other menopause symptoms such as the classic hot flushes or night sweats that were about the extent of my knowledge of the menopause, I assumed that I either had something sinister wrong with me or that this was just something I had to suck up. Because this coincided with a major life change – the turmoil and upheaval of starting a completely new life as a Member of Parliament, I also put a lot of it down to stress and pure exhaustion.” Rachel says in a blog on her website.
“Frankly, I was somewhat in denial that menopause could be affecting me – I’d always prided myself on my resilience to almost every ailment and illness! It took me a long time to find out that migraines are connected with menopause and in the process, I realised that there is a need for this campaign.”
Since talking to Diane in the last few weeks, Rachel has already raised the subject of dealing with menopause in the house, and she says she is on a mission to bring the issue higher up the government agenda.
“It could be argued that menopause affects every area of Government policy making – because government policy affects every woman! I’m sympathetic to that statement! To kick things off, I’m focusing my efforts on three defined areas. These are things that I believe are, or could be in time, achievable within Government. If we can make progress here, it will be transformative.
I’ve learned that modern forms of HRT can be incredibly helpful. What’s more, guidelines already exist to guide GPs and health professionals to prescribe the right treatment and care. But so often these aren’t being implemented. And outdated myths about HRT are still widespread. (Before I started this campaign I still had this lingering memory that HRT was bad because it was made from horse pee) I would like to push for best practice and understanding to be widespread. If you go to your GP as a menopausal woman, you shouldn’t be relying on pot luck whether or not you get one that understands menopause or not.
This is where there are some huge wins. I’ve already seen some brilliant work in workplaces that are actively signing up to be menopause -friendly. Shout out to West Midlands Police and the fantastic work they are doing! As an MP, I can push for my local public sector employers in my patch to adopt similar policies and training. And more widely, we can get this message out there, that just like having policies on mental health, caring, and shared parental leave, having policies on menopause can benefit your business bottom line because it keeps your employees happy and productive, when you’ve invested significant resource training them to do their jobs!
I do believe this should start early within the school curriculum. There are calls to look at and update the personal sex and health education curriculum (PSHE) to reflect new concerns of parents and teachers. This would be an opportunity to talk about menopause. As well as being taught about periods at the start of their reproductive life, girls and boys need to understand about later stages of life, how it can affect them in positive and negative ways.
Please read what she has to say on Rachel’s website.
Here she raises the subject in the house: