There is something quite disconcerting when your doctor, having listened to your list of seemingly disparate symptoms, sits back and announces you are peri-menopausal.
“I’m having an early menopause!” I gasped.
However, it was his next statement that was really going to knock the edge off of my I-could-pass-for-35-on-a-good-day mantra.
“No, Nicola. You are 45 and bang on track to be in the peri stage.”
I’ll be honest ladies, I feel as though I’ve been riding the hormone dragon for my entire life. They kicked in a 12, turned me axe wielder in my twenties and are now causing my otherwise infallible memory to stare into the face of people I’ve known for 20 years and not have a clue what their name is.
Which is why when Rachel Weiss of Rowan Consultancy announced last year that she was launching a Menopause Café, where women – and men – could meet and chat about this mid-life upheaval, I was there like a shot! It was a rip roaring success and I can tell you with certainty that there is nothing more uplifting than a room full of middle-aged, self-deprecating women sharing their experiences and assuring you that you are not going mad!
Following the success of this, Rachel decided to share Menopause Café with the world; she is heading down to speak in a panel discussion on "My Personal Heatwave" and to host London's first Menopause Cafe at the WOW Southbank Festival and very soon, Toronto will be seen to be following our lead!
It was perhaps the success of her third event at the amazing WOW-Women of the World Festival in Perth last October though, which really highlighted just how important it is for women to be able to open up to one another about this life-changing stage of their middle age. Kirsty Wark applauded the efforts that Rachel and the team have made, and joined in the café, chatting to women about her own experience.
This weekend, the world’s first Menopause Festival will come to Perth, celebrating different aspects of the ‘third stage of life’.
Rachel said, “Following the success of last year’s events, we began to realise that there was a real need for wider discussion about the menopause and how to best manage it. We were keen to strike the balance between providing information while also creating fun events where people can relax and talk casually with others. The menopause marks the third stage of our lives and can be a pivotal time and a catalyst for much positivity. The menopause marks the third stage of our lives and can be a pivotal time and a catalyst for much positivity so a festival, with communal singing and plenty of tea and cake, should help encourage people to talk while also receiving some useful information from our experts.”
Once again sponsored by Rowan Consultancy, the festival will see four free events take place at Perth Theatre over four Saturday afternoons - two in March, one in April and one in May. The events are open to all genders and all ages.
The first event, on Saturday 10 March, will include a talk by Dr Laura Jarvis of Tayside Menopause Clinic, who will shed light on the menopause, possible symptoms and ways of managing it. This will be followed by a sing-a-long with singer, songwriter and composer Debra Salem and a Menopause Café, providing an opportunity for informal conversation and refreshments.
Dr Jarvis is a speciality doctor in sexual and reproductive health and part of the team at the Tayside Menopause Clinic at Perth’s Drumhar Health Centre. She said, “In the 15 years I have been involved in the clinic, we are certainly seeing more referrals which signifies that women are in search of more information and advice. Although we are generally seeing the more complex cases, we applaud Menopause Cafe for opening up the subject more widely and encouraging dialogue amongst both men and women. Normalising the subject will make a huge difference to the way the menopause is managed and the festival will play a positive role in that.
“I will be covering everything from what the menopause actually is to the different ways symptoms can be treated. In the past, some women felt that they couldn’t talk about the menopause, and that they just had to get on with it but now, with women living longer and many of us holding down demanding jobs, we are starting to realise we have a right to a better quality of life, and that we should do our utmost to be informed and take positive steps to improve our wellbeing.”
The following event, on Saturday 24 March, will highlight some ways women can attend to their physical and mental wellbeing during the menopause and beyond. April and May events will encourage women to fall in love with their body again, with a return visit from Dr Jarvis, singing, and additional Menopause Cafes.
The Menopause Festival is part-funded by the Guildry Incorporation of Perth and Perth and Kinross Creative Communities Fund. It is supported by Horsecross Arts, the creative organisation behind Perth Concert Hall and Perth Theatre.
Lu Kemp, Perth Theatre’s Artistic Director said, “Perth Theatre is a community hub as well as a cultural hub. Events like the Menopause Festival are powerful motors for social change and we are delighted to be able to support this in our newly opened theatre. Menopause Café was a popular part of our first WOW – Women of the World festival – and we are really excited to build on that celebration of creating positive spaces for important discussion.”
All events will be held at Perth Theatre, Mill Street, Perth PH1 5HZ, from 2.15pm until 5.30pm.
For more information and to reserve free places, visit Event Brite >>
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