With the close of World Menopause Month, it’s only fitting to take some time to reflect back on its purpose and the meaning of it all. It was just a year ago that I even became aware of it, and with so many arbitrary and made up recognition days and months (October was also National Pizza Month), I was pretty skeptical of its significance. I mean, really, who’s heard of it and why is it a thing? And exactly who and how is it helping? Even so, I went about posting and sharing different calls-to-action on my social accounts, feeling obliged by the symbolism of it all.

Fast-forward one year, and my skepticism has evolved to genuine intrigue, and dare I say, hope. Last month alone, I learned about, and connected with, some AMAZING women around the world who are doing substantial work not just to grow awareness and normalize conversation, but build and fuel a menopause marketplace that serves the broad spectrum of women’s needs. I’ve happened upon some pretty bold and brilliant efforts (new and existing) being led by women who are committed to addressing menopause openly and embedding it within the systems that recognize and support it as a fundamental life and health stage. And with the discovery of each new voice, I’ve become much clearer on World Menopause Month and why it’s so important.

According to the FemAging 2020 Tech report, the global population of women 40+ is growing daily, and an estimated 1.1 billion women will be of perimenopausal age by 2025. A recent report by the Female Founders Fund estimates that menopause presents a $600 billion market opportunity for businesses catering to women in mid-life. We represent a powerful and influential consumer segment and it’s high-time that menopause be elevated to the same level of education as menarche,* and regarded with the same care and attention (not to mention, investment) that our society puts toward fertility.

While most of us can agree that this is worthwhile and important every month throughout the year, World Menopause Month provides a point in time in which we can rally together and put a heightened focus on an issue that we’ll all go through, and is life-changing for so many. It’s an opportunity to amplify each other’s voices and share resources that have helped (and are helping) us get through. And to be reminded, that we’re not alone in this. It’s through our respective and collective efforts and the sharing of our individual stories, that we’re able to process our own experiences and help make it better for others. We can celebrate each other’s successes and learn from each other, all the while, shifting the traditional whispers of desperation and shame, into unabashed roars and unified calls to MAKE IT BETTER.

So, I come away from this year’s month of recognition inspired by the groundswell, and optimistic about the future of menopause for women and those affected by it. In the past year, we’ve seen more women-led, mid-life focused ventures emerge: more digital clinics and health providers, like Vera, Femality Health and Evernow; more information and content producers, like Alva, Gen M and Menopause What Works?; more research, like FemAging 2020 and Women Living Better; more influencers and advocates, like Omisade Burney-Scott and Karen Arthur; more wellness products and services, like State of Menopause and Tabu; and more mentors and advisors, like Charlie Harris Reid and Pamela Windle. All leading to greater coverage by the mainstream media and awareness among investors.

No doubt, we’re making progress -- and with all of this “more,” the needs and stories of women of color around the world are still disappointingly under-served and under-represented. So, my hope – and growing expectation – is that the year ahead will bring us more Black, Latina, and Asian voices who are not only contributing to the conversations on menopause, but shaping, influencing and benefitting from the billion dollar marketplace it represents.

*Note: I was last week years old (i.e., 46) before I learned that menarche is pronounced MEN-ar-kee and NOT Men-arch. Not sure why, but my mind was kinda blown and I felt compelled to share.

I recently had a conversation with a group of friends about self-care and what it means to each of us. We are a group of women from different backgrounds with different perspectives, so of course our thinking about this topic was no different. But for me, the thing I remember was struggling to feel connected to what was being said.

As I think back to the conversation, I realize something: for me, self-care is very much related to self-love. In many ways, I think I use them interchangeably. So, in the conversation with my friends, I struggled because I was not able to separate the two. To me, self-care isn’t just about taking care of yourself – making yourself look good, going to spas, walking etc. It’s more about listening to yourself and being attentive to not only what you need, but what you want.

Self-love is showing yourself kindness, care and most importantly, understanding. It’s about consciously choosing to put my needs and wants first. Doing what you want to do and not because you have to or are supposed to. It’s about trusting myself, believing in myself and treating myself with respect. Honestly, it’s something that I find very hard to do. I think this is why I think about self-care and self-love like twins.

I have been on a journey, as most of us have.

As a woman and mom of three, consciously communicating what I want and need over the years has been a struggle – and really, really hard. I remember a time when I didn’t even know what I wanted -- I couldn’t find the words. So, the concept of self-care felt foreign to me – and honestly, a bit selfish. It felt unattainable (and a little expensive), because I was lost and unfocused. It felt wrong for me to take care of me and put my needs first. It’s not that I’ve never done things that I’ve wanted to do, but I don’t think I communicated them very well, nor was I being honest with myself. Those things only happened after everyone else was taken care of.

I was never the priority.

The good news is I’ve learned. I have learned to say no, I have learned to establish boundaries that protect my well-being and I have learned to be unapologetic about standing up for myself. I’ve learned to make time for me – whether through exercise or spending time with my friends. Today I am a better wife, friend and mom because I have learned to love myself and take care of myself. The journey hasn’t been easy but I’ve gotten there…well, am getting there truthfully.

So, when I reflect back to my conversation with my friends, I would say “self-care” is about making your own needs a priority. Remember -- we are told to put on our mask first when faced with an emergency -- so we can help ourselves, and then help others.


Aiyshen and her wife are working mom's of three -- two college students and an 11th grader.

In my ongoing pursuit to better manage my own struggles with perimenopause, I’ve been much more focused on seeing how many of my related symptoms can be managed through diet

and lifestyle change. It’s not that I’m opposed to HRT and other pharmaceuticals to manage my symptoms (though admittedly, I have been biased to fear by some of the negative reports associating its use with breast cancer), but I do think it’s primarily my responsibility to at least try to improve my situation by making behavioral and lifestyle changes that provide a strong foundation for my overall well-being.

That’s why recently, I was excited to not only read, but interview nutritional therapist and writer, Jackie Lynch, about her new book, The Happy Menopause: Smart Nutrition to Help You Flourish. I mean, she had me at “The Happy...”, because let’s be real, when it comes to the typical thoughts and conversations we have about menopause, they’re rarely associated with happy.

A Registered Nutritional Therapist since 2010, Jackie is also the founder of the WellWellWell nutrition clinic in London, where she’s been specializing in women’s health and menopause for the past several years. In 2019, she launched The Happy Menopause, a diet and lifestyle podcast, so that she could reach more women with information they could consider – whether as alternatives, or in addition to – a medicalized approach to managing their menopause transition. And this month – well-timed to coincide with World Menopause Month – she hopes to reach even more women, with the publication of a new book inspired by the insights and guidance shared through her clinical work and popular podcast.

The book is written to be a practical guide to managing menopause transition through nutrition and lifestyle modifications. While the guidance Ms. Lynch offers isn’t necessarily new or ground-breaking, I found the book to be not just informational, but easy to understand and more important, useful to me. Like most working women who are managing chaotic households, I don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to reading books, even of the “self-care” sort, so I really appreciated that Ms. Lynch acknowledges pretty early on, that women in midlife are BUSY and that her book doesn’t have to be read sequentially or in its entirety (woohoo, my kind of book). Rather, she’s laid out a “pick-and-mix approach” to help readers easily find the symptoms and corresponding information most relevant to them.

Because I’ve experienced or am currently experiencing several symptoms (i.e., more than three) -- and because I knew I’d be interviewing the author -- I did read the book cover-to-cover and was pretty glad I did. Overall, it was easy to follow and understand, and it was clear how I could pretty easily apply many of the tips and suggestions offered. The information is clearly laid out, with each of the symptom sections following a consistent format, highlighting what the symptom is, why it happens, and how nutrition can help – including which foods to eat and which to avoid.

For each symptom, she also includes callouts for practical lifestyle modifications and recipe suggestions. As I was reading, I found myself thinking that this would be a great book to have handy as I’m writing up my grocery list, or to have around the kitchen as a recipe guide for all of the protein and nutrient-rich snacks and meals I’ll be making.

Balancing your blood sugar is a fundamental premise and recurring theme throughout the book – and if you only read one chapter from start to finish, make sure it’s “Chapter 2: If You Only Do One Thing”. While I had a general sense before reading the book, that too much sugar can exacerbate many of my perimenopausal symptoms, I didn’t really understand the “why” of it, nor did I have a full appreciation for how crucial balancing blood sugar is to our overall health and well-being – both physical and cognitive. So…what’s my primary take away? BALANCE YOUR SUGAR!!!

I definitely recommend this book – particularly for women who are managing multiple symptoms as they navigate their own menopause transition. Personally, as I sit down to write my grocery list for the week, I can already see how it will be a frequent “go to” guide among my growing library of useful resources. Here’s to happy reading, and more to the point…here’s to a happy menopause!


Jackie’s books are available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and select independent booksellers. She's also the host of the popular podcast, The Happy Menopause. You can follow Jackie on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @WellWellWellUK.

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