For generations of Irish ladies, menstruation was a taboo topic they usually suffered its slings and arrows in silence. That is altering at lengthy final, as was clearly illustrated in that memorable week in May 2021, when ladies across the nation took to the airwaves on RTÉ Radio 1’s Liveline present to explain in vivid element the detrimental affect menopause had on their lives.
The unprecedented Liveline outpouring is taken because the jumping-off level for the RTÉ documentary The Change – Ireland’s Menopause Story. The title in itself is a reminder of how far we’ve got already come — a nod to the now fortunately outdated time period for menopause, on this case extra of a reference to the rising motion for enlightenment on the subject.
Last yr’s groundbreaking Channel 4 documentary on menopause was ably fronted by Davina McCall, however this programme eschews a presenter, which is maybe to its profit, permitting it to cowl a formidable quantity of floor in a single hour.
The documentary might not have a celeb front-woman however the star of the present is Dr Deirdre Lundy, an excellent communicator and a beacon of sense and knowledge. The different contributions from medical consultants are clear, concise and on-point, detailing the havoc that declining oestrogen may cause to the bodily, psychological and emotional wellbeing of ladies.
Even extra highly effective are the testimonies of ladies themselves, which is able to chime with all of these scuffling with the results of menopause. The documentary captures the loneliness felt by ladies, but in addition the enjoyment and reduction after they uncover the assist of others in the identical boat and start to interrupt down the long-ingrained stigma.
In this regard, it is heartening to observe menopause coach Catherine O’Keeffe giving a chat to female and male members of An Garda Síochána wherein she describes a traumatic menstrual flooding expertise.
The documentary is additionally a potent reminder of how silence can kill. Psychiatrist Dr Veronica O’Keane highlights the dearth of analysis into psychological well being and menopause, placing it in stark phrases — 52 is the imply age for suicide in ladies.
While strides are being made, with many GPs sharing information on the subject and the institution of devoted menopause clinics, a lot work stays to be achieved, together with, as Lundy factors out, engaged on methods to assist breast most cancers survivors for whom HRT will not be appropriate.
This is public service broadcasting at its greatest — participating, informative and academic. The closing phrase goes to contributor Róisín who says: “I have two sons, and there is nothing they don’t know about menopause, God love them”. Alleluia — with moms like that, the long run appears to be like loads brighter.
- The Change – Ireland’s Menopause Story can be accessible on the RTÉ Player
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