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Ruth Devlin’s career in the health and wellbeing sector started over 30 years ago as a registered nurse, training in Edinburgh. She is passionate about taking a holistic approach to health, which is reflected during talks or when giving treatments as a reflexologist.
She founded Let’s Talk Menopause in 2012 and works across all sectors providing informative talks. She is the author of a book entitled Men…Let’s Talk Menopause and regularly contributes on a variety of platforms, including radio & various podcasts. She is also a Scottish Union Learning Training provider and member of the British Menopause Society and The Association of Reflexologists.
To begin with, Ruth sets the scene to explain why it’s important for men to understand menopause.
Menopause is when women stop having their menstrual period, and technically begins 12 months after their last period. Essentially what happens is oestrogen levels decline leading to an imbalance of hormones. There is a hormone replacement therapy but that’s not for everyone.
There are 34 symptoms for the menopause, from sweating as though you have just come off a squash court within a few minutes (which is obviously highly embarrassing women if it happens in a public place, such as your place of work), to feeling more emotional.
However not all women suffer the same symptoms and they can differ in severity from one person to another – for example, some women don’t have any hot flashes at all.
It can also affect your tissues and therefore your vagina as well, resulting in less interest in sexual intercourse. That’s why Ruth wrote the book, which Volker has now read in preparation what might be coming his or any men’s way.
The psychological impact of menopause cannot be underestimated. Ruth says its integral to be sensitive and not make fun of your partner when she’s experiencing symptoms. Showing understanding to a partner is important at any point, but particularly when the hormones are in imbalance.
From a workplace perspective, Ruth said companies need to have an inclusive culture to open the conversation about menopause. Many women are still at work aged 45-60 and additionally they might have older parents, teenage children whilst trying to keep their level of competency. This can prove a huge challenge, and workplaces are encouraged to support women.
There are too many stigmas associated with menopause and for women under 40 they might have a premature menopause, resulting in similar symptoms, yet often workplaces and partners aren’t aware of it. It’s important to adjust policies and ensure the support for women in the workplace. And it’s like any health issue, we need to speak more about this!
Volker compared it to hay fever or having a baby and you cannot sleep at night. It’s invisible, like mental health. Ruth confirms that the symptoms can change and are different every day.
David raised the point whether working from home makes it easier for women to cope with work, vs. having to go to work. Shift patterns, uniforms and other work place related ‘must haves’ affecting women as much as the flexibility and support for them as they go through menopause.
Volker wonders whether men go through menopause as well, but Ruth corrects him it would be called an andropause. Men can go through similar symptoms but very mild symptoms in comparison to the menopause.
Important: Don’t compare symptoms of your wife’s menopause to your mate’s wife’s menopause down the pub – it’s different for everyone. Be kind.