Menopause: More than half of Black, Asian and minority ethnic women do not feel represented

When it comes to addressing the gap in menopause support, it is clear that one size does not fit all, as Amrit Birdi reports

More than half of women from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds say they do not feel represented in the current conversation around menopause because it focuses too heavily on the experiences of white women.

This is despite research showing that some common menopause symptoms - such as hot flushes - are experienced more severely by certain ethnic groups, and the age at which a women begins menopause can also differ between ethnicities.

An online survey by YouGov, carried out between May 30 and June 7, assessed a sample size of 772 Black, Asian and minority ethnic women aged over 40.

It also found that more than a quarter of women in minority ethnic communities find it difficult to access menopause support.

According to the British Menopause Society, some of the ways menopause symptoms can differ for Black, Asian and minority ethnic women include:

  • Chinese and Japanese women experiencing longer menstrual cycles than Caucasian women during menopause transition.

  • Afro-Caribbean and Hispanic women having fewer ovulatory cycles in the last year before final menstrual period compared to women of other races.

  • Afro-Caribbean women have the highest prevalence and longest duration of hot flashes and night sweats, and they are also more severe.

  • The average age of menopause in Indian women is 46.7 years. The mean age of menopause for Pakistani women is 47.16 years. This is much lower than women in western countries (51 years).

'I really was at rock bottom... I just couldn't understand what was happening, I really thought I had a disease and was going to die' - Menopause campaigner, Meera Bhogal

Menopause campaigner, Meera Bhogal, has helped many women from the South Asian community better understand and cope with the symptoms of peri-menopause and beyond.

She says teaching women that their menopause symptoms could be different, and start earlier than their Caucasian friends, is key.

Another woman hoping to make a difference when it comes to the way Black women are supported through menopause is Anita Powell.

Anita is the co-founder of Black Women in Menopause, and hosts a podcast called Black Menopause and Beyond.

Anita Powell, Co-founder, Black Women in Menopause

She wants better understanding and support for all women going through menopause, including access to hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

"As a community worker, I look at menopause mainly through those eyes," Anita said.

"I can clearly see that there's a relationship with low socio economic groups, ethnic minorities, not receiving adequate service and not fully understanding health wise what they can do."

Meera and Anita both say there is lots more work to be done when it comes to including women like them in the current conversation around menopause.

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