Vicky and the ‘Taboo Subject’

Vicky Tucker – Actress Rachel Atkins

Well done to Vicky Tucker in The Archers for raising the issue of menopause.  In recent years The Archers has dealt with many controversial issues including rape, abortion and drug abuse but women talking about menopause issues is a bit of a taboo.  

In fairness it was only a short conversation between two female characters, Vicky and Lynda.  Vicky was concerned that entering the menopause and starting to have symptoms might be a bit of a turn-off for her new husband who normally looks at her like ‘a boy in a sweetie shop’!  Lynda, not normally the sexiest of characters, reassured her that she and her husband still enjoy a very fulfilling sex life.

This short conversation provoked over 200 messages on the BBC Archers blog.  They ranged from being disgusted that the subject had been raised to serious comments about the nature of menopause.   But why is menopause still such a provocative subject?

Menopause is a natural stage in a woman’s life that can be compared with puberty.  It begins naturally between the ages of 45 to 55 and may last 15 – 20 years.  Menopause that occurs before the age of 40 is called ‘premature menopause’ or ‘premature ovarian failure’.   Menopause can also be precipitated by illnesses and medical interventions.

Some women think that if they take HRT they will not have to go through menopause but they are only delaying it.  At some time you have to stop taking HRT and at that stage you may get symptoms.

A significant percentage of women will pass through the menopause with minimal symptoms.  There are a number of factors that affect the nature of the menopausal experience.   Genetics is one factor and the experience of female relatives can give an indication of the timing and symptoms.  More important to having a good menopause experience are diet and lifestyle.  It’s never too early to start eating well, exercising and leading a healthy lifestyle in preparation for a better menopause.

And if you are having symptoms that concern you, you may want to consult your doctor.  You might also want to talk to your best female friend.