From Menarche to Menopause

 Alexandra Pope is co-founder of the Red School and co-author of Wild Power. Alexandra and her co-founder and co-author Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer are passionate about educating and empowering women on the psychological and spiritual forces that are held within the menstrual cycle process and the menopause.  

Menopause: the great awakener: Red School is launching their live on-line menopause course in late October 2020. 

Sue: It’s such a pleasure to talk with you about your extraordinary work helping women to empower themselves through their menstrual cycle. How did you start doing this?

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Counsellors and Psychotherapists: Alarming lack of knowledge about the menopause

85% of counsellors registered with the BACP (British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists) are of menopausal age.

A questionnaire prepared by a psychotherapy student from Nottingham University as part of her dissertation on the menopause revealed that most therapists believe that ‘training in and support with the menopause within the professional is “essential.”’

Yet there is no official training, guidance, or information for therapists on preparing for this profound and daunting life change. This fact was born out during the workshop I recently ran on Sex, Meaning and the Menopause for a well established Wiltshire counselling service.

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Another Day Talking About Sex, Meaning and the Menopause

This time the workshop took place in Sailsbury with a group of 16 therapists and counsellors. Five (including the only man – thanks again, for being there) were in their fifties and (apart from the male therapist) well into the menopause. Ten were in their forties, and one – a pregnant counsellor who worked with people with learning difficulties – was in her thirties.

Of course, many similar themes emerged to those I wrote about in my previous blog, so I won’t go over old ground.  However, I will outline different issues that this particular group raised.

Again, this was very much a day of exploration.  The day was split  into two sections.  During the morning, we looked at the personal experience of the menopause. In the afternoon, we discussed different ways to improve working with older female clients, couples, and younger women with early onset menopause.

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A day of talking about sex, aging and the menopause, not forgetting ‘hot tongue’.

Following my article  in Therapy Today on Menopause: How Women Suffer in Silence,  I have started to run a series of workshops on Sex, Meaning and the Menopause  aimed at counsellors and therapists to develop better awareness of working with older women, how the menopause affects relationships, and the impact of early onset menopause on younger women.

Last week I worked with a group 12 participants, including two men. Two therapists were in their mid forties, most well into their fifties, and a couple in their early sixties.

The following is a summary of the discussions that took place.  There are no absolutes here. This was very much a day of personal and professional exploration and discovery. But I do hope that these points may resonate with anyone reading this blog, and even help you on your own journey of understanding the menopause. Continue reading “A day of talking about sex, aging and the menopause, not forgetting ‘hot tongue’.”

Fight the Change – yet again

I feel another soapbox rant coming on.  On the train to London I read a left-behind Daily Mail.  ‘Fight the Change’ cried the headline of Life and Style section. For those suffering from dry skin caused by the menopause, new products promise to turn back the clocks.

‘Fortunately,’ said the article, ‘skinscare companies realise there’s a market for high-tech products targeted specifically at postmenopausal skin.

And how!

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Stress can bring on early menopause

By chance this morning, I ended up having a long telephone conversation with Sheila, a friend I haven’t spoken to for a while.  I say by chance, because I had arranged to talk to her husband about a work matter. Much to Sheila’s embarrassment, he had forgotten our appointment and was having the time of his life racing cars in Wales.

His forgiveable forgetfulness gave us the time to catch up together.  Two years ago Sheila’s husband had been diagnosed with a life threatening illness and their lives changed radically because of it.  Sheila faced this with immense courage and willingly took care of him when he came out hospital.  At the same time, she was supporting their two children, running the home, and trying to continue with her successful design business.

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Marriage, menopause, and the importance of good communication

Following the article, Will YOUR marriage survive the menopause? (adapted from Sex, Meaning and the Menopause) in last week’s Femail section of the Daily Mail, I received an  email from a distraught reader. He was very concerned about the state of his own marriage.  According to her GP, his wife had gone through the menopause a few months ago, but he recognised many of the symptoms discussed in the article, particularly anger outbursts and ‘behaving like a crazed lunatic’.

‘I love my wife,’ he said, ‘and would do anything to save our marriage and help her.’  He went on to ask how to broach the subject of  couples counselling with her.

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Jacqui Smith, pornography and the menopause

I think Jacqui Smith, whose programme Porn Again was broadcast on BBC 5 Live last night, is brave to talk openly about her husband using pornography.  It’s certainly caused a sensation, and, as some people suggest, whether or not she’s using this as an opportunity to open up a career in journalism isn’t the point.  But pornography being a major issue in society certainly is.  I discovered just how much during my research for Sex, Meaning and the Menopause.

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Leaving once-upon-a-time-Mr-Right

I found myself surprisingly disturbed as I listened on BBC i-player to Roisin McAuley’s absorbing BBC Radio 4 documentary, Leaving Mr Wrong (available until Mon, Feb 21st). In fact, it would be fair to say that it really hit me between the eyes how marriage has changed since I was born.

My mother, and most of her generation, would never have dared challenge their husbands. It was socially unacceptable (and therefore unthinkable) to divorce. But as the BBC documentary pointed out, babyboomer wives now seem to be walking away from their long-term partnerships in droves, often leaving their husbands flabbergasted, hurt and lost.

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