If I were to ask you what springs to mind when I utter that well-worn phrase ‘The Menopause’, I suspect you’d describe a variation on the theme of dried-up, middle-aged, emotionally fraught women, covered in HRT patches and flushing hot from head to toe. You may even go so far as to bring in rivers of tears, shouting for no reason and an irrational reaction to everything from rolo adverts to motherless puppies.
For far too long the couplet of these two simple words – for it’s not just any menopause, it’s THE menopause – has been synonymous with the end of a woman’s best years, and the start of her slow decline into bitter old age and a weak bladder.
However, as we fast approach the end of a decade that has not only welcomed in a resurgence in feminism – thanks in no small way to the #MeToo movement and the celebration of 100 years of suffrage - but has also seen a cultural shift in how we view and value the ‘Third Age’, the time for a menopause makeover has arrived!
“We held the first menopause café in Blend two years ago now, and since then there have been 136 café events held across the UK, and as far afield as Toronto in Canada. The immediate surge in interest proved what we believed; the time for this is right now – ten years ago this would never have worked. Celebrities are talking about it – Kirsty Wark is of course, our patron - and menopausal women are now the fastest growing demographic in the workplace. In short, we no longer feel as though we have to disappear – we’re confident and vocal about this normal part of life.”
Exactly like the Death Café format, which Rachel is careful to acknowledge and give thanks to, Menopause Cafes have no agenda and no speakers, and simply serve as a catalyst for conversation.
“What became obvious in amongst these conversations was that women wanted more. They wanted advice, and expert knowledge, and a way of celebrating this next stage in their lives. When we started to think about a Menopause Festival I Googled that exact phrase and nothing at all came up - and so it was another world-first for Perth.”
We no longer feel as though we have to disappear – we’re confident and vocal about this normal part of life. The first #FlushFest was held in Perth Theatre in April 2018, to great success. From the expert advice of a GP talk, to joyful sessions with an image consultant, and various off-the-wall song covers - hilareously ranging from 'I Will Survive' to 'Tragedy' - from the menopause choir led by Debra Salem, the focus was on fun and celebration.
“It can become a bit of a gloomfest – menopause symptoms do bring out that competitive edge in some people! We wanted to bring practical, honest advice to the forefront and break the taboo around talking about it out loud, while having some fun with likeminded women.”
The team certainly did that, and with an increased profile and more confidence than ever – some 1400 people have attended a Menopause Café somewhere in the world now – they are back for #FlushFest year two on Friday 26th and Saturday 27th April 2019.
“This year the Festival will be opened by Christina McKelvie MSP, Minister for Older People and Equalities and will include a Menopause at Work seminar, a keynote talk on the Fantastic Four - exercise, diet, sleep and HRT - from the amazing Kelli Jaecks, author of “Martinis & Menopause: strategies, science and sips that empower women to beat the Hormone Groan”, CBT workshops and a hilarious end of Festival comedy show “Gusset Grippers” from physiotherapist Elaine Miller. It is packed full!”
As a 47 year old woman, this excites me very much. I will never forget the day my doctor uttered the words “You’re peri-menopausal Nicola.” Shocked and consumed by disbelief I asked him if I was having an early menopause. “No,” he replied “you’re right on time.” I had never heard of the peri-menopause, although I was somewhat relieved that my completely lack of memory for a person's name had a perfectly good biological reason – as a side note, please don’t be offended if I ask how your kids are but have no idea what they’re called.
And so I speak from personal experience when I say, this Festival will be full of women you may not at first expect. Women who are working, raising kids, running businesses, juggling households, flicking through fashion magazines, going dancing, running marathons…. Women like you and me who are very happy, very young-at-heart, and not the slightest bit dried up!
I had never heard of the peri-menopause, although I was somewhat relieved that my completely lack of memory for a person's name had a perfectly good biological reason.As last year’s attendees said: “The best thing is talking to other women. It’s great to be yourself, not judged. I think I’m more relaxed about being my age. It was liberating!”
Rachel agrees wholeheartedly!
“Our youngest Menopause Café attendee was 18, and our oldest was 81. 27 men have come along to support their partners and gain a better understanding of how this might affect them. If you’re in anyway curious about the menopause, how it might affect you or someone your love, then come along and join in.”
Did you expect it to become so big, I ask? And with the glorious confidence that can only come from a woman in her fifties, she replied: “Of course, world domination was always part of the plan.”
Menopause Café Trustees, counsellor Rachel Weiss, operations director Heather Borderie and biochemist Helen Kemp, in fabulous, empowering underwear from Molke in Perth, are ready for this year’s Festival!
Book tickets for #FlushFest2019>>> Day passes, or individual tickets for the film and the comedy evenings.
World domination was always part of the plan - Rachel Weiss, Menopause Cafe Charity Trustee
Menopause Café is a charitable Trust set up in Scotland. You can donate here towards the costs of #FlushFest2019, every penny goes to Menopause Café charity, including Gift Aid.
Menopause Festival 2019 - aka #Flushfest2019 - is funded by the Gordon Fraser Trust, Perth and Kinross Common Good Fund and sponsored by Rowan Consultancy.
Here in Perthshire there are a number of local, independent retailers who can help you become more green in your day to day choices.
May 15th Wednesday 2019
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May 13th Monday 2019
Now its 48th year, Perth Festival of the Arts returns to the fair city for 10 days in May 2019.
May 3rd Friday 2019