A national research report from the Menopause Foundation of Canada (MFC) demonstrates the real-life impacts and inequities Canadian women face while going through perimenopause/menopause. The silence around menopause leaves many of the estimated 10 million women in Canada over the age of 40 (those in perimenopause, menopause, or postmenopause) trying to understand what is happening to their bodies, why they feel the way they do, and whether treatment and support are available. It also leaves women unaware of the potential long-term health impacts of menopause.
The survey involved 1023 Canadian women aged 40–60, representative by region, education, income, and ethnicity. Most women (95% in MFC’s survey) experience menopausal symptoms; however, 46% of women in the study felt unprepared for this stage of life, and 54% believe menopause is still a taboo subject. Additionally, 40% reported feeling alone through their menopause experience. While the majority of women were aware of hot flashes (84%) and night sweats (77%), most were not aware that urinary tract infections (82%) and heart palpitations (75%) were symptoms. More than half did not know that headaches/migraines (58%), anxiety (58%), depression (56%), and memory issues (58%) were symptoms. Complicating the issue is determining whether these symptoms are the result of another condition.
The average Canadian woman will spend up to half her life in a menopausal state, yet MFC suggests that menopause is seen as something women must simply endure, with not enough focus on preventive care, lifestyle choices, and safe and effective treatment options available to help women during their menopausal years.
While women report their family physician is their most trusted source for information and advice about menopause, fewer than 25% said their family physician proactively discussed menopause with them. Of the 41% who sought out medical advice themselves, 72% found that advice to be unhelpful or only somewhat helpful, and 40% felt their symptoms were undertreated.
Further, MFC’s research reveals that 75% of working women feel their employer is not supportive, or they do not know if they have support to help them manage this stage of life. MFC believes that normalizing this natural part of life is long overdue and everyone has a role to play. The organization hopes that talking about menopause can break the taboo and empower women with evidence-based information.
This independent research report was made possible by supporters and volunteers, including educational funding from Lupin Pharma Canada, Organon, Astellas Pharma, and Searchlight Pharma. MFC is a national not-for-profit advocacy organization created to raise awareness of the impact of menopause on women and society. Learn more at www.menopausefoundationcanada.ca. Read the report, “The silence and the stigma: Menopause in Canada,” at https://menopausefoundationcanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/MFC-Report_The-Silence-and-the-Stigma_Menopause-in-Canada_October-2022.pdf.
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