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11th Oct 2019

Ireland’s first menopause event happens today and yes, it’s a step up for young women too

Louise Carroll

Brought to you by Linwoods Healthfoods

It’s about women. It’s about us.

No matter what stage you’re at in life, ladies, it’s pretty cool that Ireland’s first-ever menopause summit — The M Word event — is happening TODAY, right here, with a stellar lineup of women who know exactly what they’re talking about.

Sure, for plenty of us, we’re years away from having to think about the menopause and thankfully, by the time that we do, it will be a whole lot less hush-hush and so much more spoken about, thanks to the fabulous women (see them here) shouting about it now.

Meet one of them, Aisling Grimley, co-founder of The M Word and creator of the My Second Spring website which, since it’s formation six years ago, has provided millions of women with information and inspiration through both the rough times and the good.

Aisling is also the author of The Best Friend’s Guide to Menopause. She lives in Dublin and is mum to four daughters and one golden retriever

Being a very much in-demand speaker when it comes to anything menopause-related, around 250 attendees will be descending upon the Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Hotel, Dublin to hear what she and other fantastic speakers at The M Word have to share.

“I just want women to feel supported, to feel more energised, to feel positive, to feel that they can embrace the second half of life feeling happy and healthy,” says Aisling.

So why is talking about menopause so important? Well, because we never do!

For a start, most of us don’t even fully understand it. We hear the word and associate it with ‘the end.’ Well, the women at The M Word are here to change our minds.

Menopause is the permanent end of menstruation or periods. It occurs when oestrogen levels fall so low, our ovaries no longer produce an egg each month.

Perimenopause happens around four to eight years before this. It’s this perimenopause stage where women experience most of the symptoms we associate with menopause.

Then post-menopausal women are those who have gone through their symptoms and now, have very few or no symptoms at all. Aisling says:

“First, it makes you think, ‘what’s going on with me?’ It can feel more like PMT.

“You might be feeling like you’re a bit more forgetful, or you might have sore boobs or you might skip a period. You might think, ‘are these pregnancy symptoms?’ which is what I thought, or is something else happening?

“It’s different for everybody and that’s what makes it tricky. For some women it might be hot flushes, for others, it might be skipped periods or changes in your cycle, longer or shorter gaps, or heavier.

“You might feel like you’ve got a lack of confidence in doing things that used to seem fine, and you might feel very easily overwhelmed. That can be a sign of perimenopause, particularly if it’s accompanied by missing periods.”

What’s really beautiful about The M Word event and the interactions between women online at My Second Spring is that it’s all SO supportive. For an issue that’s hardly ever spoken about, it’s a dream for many!

Even the name ‘My Second Spring’ refers to the way in which menopause is viewed in the Chinese culture — as a new beginning, a second chance to make changes to our lives and to live it to the full. We still have a bit to go here at home, however, even when it comes to chatting openly about menopause. Aisling says:

“It’s starting to come into mainstream media and TV programmes and comedies but I’m very against it being seen in a jokey way. I don’t like the belittling of menopause, like ‘Oh, it’s women on the verge,’ kind of thing. It needs to be taken seriously and really well supported.”

Hear, hear!

Then there’s also the extremely disheartening experiences of those going through premature menopause — that’s menopause before the age of 40. Causes include having a family history of early menopause, chemotherapy or pelvic radiation treatments, surgery to remove the uterus or ovaries, along with some other health conditions.

“We have a closed Facebook page for women with early menopause and symptoms are very much the same as with menopause. They definitely need extra support, there’s a big lack of support there,” says Aisling.

“My colleague, Catherine O’ Keeffe is the local rep for The Daisy Network, which is a UK charity that supports women in early menopause and that’s something that we really need to develop more in Ireland.”

The M Word event is only the tip of the iceberg in normalising this vital conversation around menopause to help women during these times of change. We need to grow as a society and accept this natural stage of life.

After all, it’s simply a woman’s second chance to make positive changes in life, to reassess and decide what other amazing things she wants to do and paths she wants to take.

The M Word event is a culmination of women’s experience in the menopause sphere if you will. It’s all about, as Aisling puts it, ‘trusting your guts.’

“It’s going to be so fun, really enjoyable and I know it’s going to be a great day. Oh, and we’ve the most fabulous goodie bags!”

Brought to you by Linwoods Healthfoods

Check out The M Word event online and My Second Spring for information and support across all things menopause, perimenopause and premature menopause and more.