Going through menopause can feel lonely and challenging, especially within the South Asian community and culture where menopause is a taboo subject and very rarely a topic of conversation.
I’m Meera and I’m on a mission to spread the message across to South Asian women that you have to work on yourself to be fitter and healthier whilst going through menopause and it’s okay to talk about it!
Many of the women I have supported with menopause are from the South Asian community and didn’t actually know anything about menopause until attending one of my free webinars and suddenly their symptoms made sense; I have even been told that menopause is a ‘western disease’ which is ‘only for white people.’ I spoke to several women in my community about what attitudes and beliefs there is around menopause.
Binju Dodhia who is 52 is one of the many women I’ve worked with and explains:
“In the South Asian community, very few women have talked about or even thought about how menopause has affected them or their loved ones. There is a severe lack of knowledge. All are aware of the term but do not have a clear idea of what it actually can cause.
Women prefer to suffer in silence rather than be noticed or thought of as weak. They have so many responsibilities on their shoulders that quite often the symptoms are ignored or brushed under the carpet as aging issues.”
Kiran Singh Kalsi, aged 50 agrees. “I feel it’s etched into our brains to not talk about menopause. it’s something that will happen and you must quietly have the symptoms and everything else associated with it but act normal! Menopause isn’t discussed in the South Asian community as it’s just brushed under the carpet. Women were just meant to get on with life and not complain. It’s like you are no longer fertile so we won’t talk about it.”
Priti Patel, aged 50 adds. “There’s lack of openness, embarrassment, lack of knowledge, discussions in the family home and extended families and with friends don’t happen.”
So what can we do about it? Well firstly, we need to acknowledge the problem and cater conversations around menopause to all different ethnic groups and communities.
We already know women from different ethic background may experience menopause differently and have different symptoms (source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3989458/) but there is also a lack of research into menopause that focuses on BAME women (source: https://megsmenopause.com/2019/08/23/how-the-menopause-is-viewed-in-bame-communities-dr-nighat-arif-gp-wsi-in-women-health/) and that needs to change. Healthcare professionals need to be aware of this when talking about menopause to women!
The mediums we discuss menopause could help too.
Priti suggests: “More media in home languages would help as well as targeting local radio and cultural papers/magazines.” Either way, we must do more to open up the conversation and make menopause understandable and accessible to women in the South Asian community. You can find more info on my menopause blogs, instagram or my menopause ebook.
Meera Bhogal is the founder of the healthy food brand Meera’s Made from Scratch and a menopause expert. she is hugely passionate about raising awareness of menopause, especially within South Asian communities where it is often not spoken about openly. She has contributed to publications such as Fit & Well, On Stella, Yahoo, Red and Prima; sharing her menopause journey, along with expert guidance to support women who are at the beginning of their menopause journey.
Her instagram is @meerabhogal and @meerasmadefromscratch