By definition, it's a day in your Insp Julie Knight, Avon & Somerset Police

By definition, it's a day in your life . . . more like 4-9 years, on average.

I was rudely awakened early one morning with severe pain raging through my lower abdomen. That was 6 years ago. I’d buried my head and put it off until 'I was older'. Now needing to know, I found lots of information in so many places; it’s mind-blowing. I can remember the girls in my school year group being ushered into the Lecture theatre as the boys sniggered. The nurse began her 'starting your periods' talk to a load of blushing, giggly 12 year olds. She neglected to tell us the bit about stopping. When they start, that's a day in your life and you know it. Whilst by definition, the menopause is a 'day in your life' as it’s ‘that day’ 12 months since your last period, there's a lot that goes on before, during and after it - as I now know.

I recently learned that 80% of women will experience some of the 35 menopause symptoms. Sadly, the experience for 25% of them will be severe. Half will not see their GP and 77% just don't realise that their symptoms are due to their menopause. I certainly didn't and experiences will be different and for different periods of time. Aren’t we lucky?

I won't miss the years of heavy, painful periods and the months where they just don’t stop. The worry that the restroom trips are noticed as they're every 40 - 50 minutes and I’m totally wiped out.

If I didn’t have the occasional sun bed, I'd look like a ghost until a hot flush came on. Then, I just want to stand outside in artic conditions - naked. I settle for standing outside with no coat on as I have to respect my colleagues and the law.

There’s the joy of waking up in the night in a bath of sweat then waking up the whole house given the need for a proper bath.

The 2018 New Year's resolution to be injury free - unlike the 6 clumsy times in 2017 - is an epic fail 16 hours in. My clumsily acquired injuries and aching joints have helped with the weight gain and done nothing for my self-esteem.

My once super sharp memory suddenly loses random words so some sentences have fillers like, ‘ooh, it’ll come to me’ - as I’m also thinking ‘I bloody hope so!’

To top it off, my best friends Christmas gift was a hanging plaque that says 'Mood swing due in 6 minutes. Be afraid, be very afraid.’ My family point out the factual inaccuracy. It should read 6 seconds.

I could go on but it’s obvious why I worry about how it affects work.

So why am I talking about something so personal?

One reason. There are Talking Menopause workshops available right now that can and will help so many people. I’m worried that some may say ‘not now’ like I did or think that ‘it doesn’t apply to them (yet)’. I’d love to change your mind.

As I sat in a crowed a room at the Talking Menopause workshop in Bridgwater in January, it all came to me. I am not alone. Finally, this makes sense.

You may be thinking that you're not female or one that’s aged between 45-55 so it doesn’t apply. Don't wait for it to happen to you. Don’t wait for it to happen to your partner or someone you care about. If you’re informed, the symptoms (aka suffering) can be better managed.

As a manager, it doesn't matter if you don't supervise women of a certain age today. You could tomorrow. More women will go through it during their working life than a generation ago. 25% consider leaving their job because of it and 10% do. Learn more about something that can last an average of 5-9 years and what reasonable adjustments can really help your staff. You'll be better prepared to talk about something that has in the past, been subject to comedy making and sitcoms (what Les Dawson and Jennifer Saunders have in common).

Talking Menopause is about the facts, the impact and how to help yourself and others. What’s more, the Talking Menopause speakers really know their stuff.  I’m so grateful. 

 At the end of the one of the conferences, a colleague sitting next to me said, 'of all the training we get, this is the best the job has given me.’ Given what the day meant to me, fighting back the tears, I had to agree.

Sarah Davies