How The Menopause Hub all began

Picture the scene in our kitchen, my 12 year old daughter tells me her first ever period has just arrived, whilst I am experiencing a menopausal hot flush, my umpteenth of the day. My 20 year old son walks into the kitchen and I shout, “Come in at your peril, the hormones are flying in here!”, upon which, he promptly turns on his heels and walks out, calling after him, “Let me know when it’s safe to come back in!”

Naturally, we laugh about this to this day. But it did set me to thinking, there and then, about the different lives my son and daughter are and will continue to experience, despite my doing my level best to provide the exact same parenting.

She will experience menstrual periods every month, most likely for the next 39 years. Unless of course she wants to or can get pregnant and have her own children. If so, she will have all that goes with pregnancy, the fantastic stuff and the less nice stuff (you know what I mean…morning sickness, fatigue, heartburn, cravings, etc.).

Then she will have to choose between becoming a ‘working inside the home mom’ or a ‘working outside the home mom’ and all the feelings of guilt, inadequacy and questioning which often comes with either and both options. Then, if she returns to the workforce after maternity leave, there’s the whole readjustment and career catch-up that goes with that. Not to mention, the glass ceiling, the gender pay gap, gender inequality and unconscious bias that happens.  

Then BOOM! She hits her forties and experiences peri-menopausal symptoms. And in her fifties, she becomes post-menopausal, a time where her kids are growing up and becoming more independent, and she is looking forward to freedom from periods, and to the next phase of her life. She may be returning to work after a long career break, or at the top of her game in her career. Either way, she is likely to hit a wall of menopausal symptoms, there are 34 symptoms in total, that she isn’t prepared for, knows little about and wasn’t expecting. And boy will she be shocked!!!

By comparison my beloved son, has sailed through life so far, he’s 25. The only problems he’s had is acne and has to shave most days. He might go bald (although unlikely as his father as has fine head of hair) and might have a mid-life crisis later on. But his hormones remain pretty even keeled. Hmmmm …what a difference between his hormonal life and hers!!

So if there is an afterlife, I’m putting my request in now…to come back as a male!!

Slightly facetious of course to make a point. But that kitchen scene I outlined above was a seminal moment, when I first started to think about setting up The Menopause Hub, Ireland’s first dedicated menopause clinic  and is how I began my journey to provide a much needed service to Irish women.

More anon about my own journey and symptoms …

Gavin O'Sullivan