Nicola Sturgeon’s comments on menopause are welcome but women need more support – Annie Brown

Our First Minister has joined a growing list of high-profile women who have spoken out about the unspeakable – the menopause.

Nicola Sturgeon admits she felt ill at ease discussing the topic on The Shift – a podcast by journalist Sam Baker aimed at the over-40s – but has helped so many women by airing her views.

She said: “I’m so far out of my comfort zone in terms of the intensely personal nature of it and that tells me – no matter how far we have come along in this discussion – that we have a long way to go if someone like me still feels kind of uncomfortable with it.”

She admitted, too, that if she talked openly about symptoms, she feared opposition politicians and the media would exploit it as a perceived weakness.

Nicola Sturgeon and husband Peter Murrell do not have any children
Nicola Sturgeon and husband Peter Murrell do not have any children

This isn’t paranoia in a sexist society in which women are devalued with age, not only by men but also by other females.

Women recognise that by admitting they are inflicted with the unmentionable menopause they just slapped an expiry date on their forehead.

I recently read an article by a male journalist who talked how, at Sturgeon’s age, she must be thinking about giving up politics.

She is 51, for God’s sake, not an old Inuit whose time has come to be dumped on an ice float to die.

Alex Salmond is nearly 70 but of all the criticism he has faced in recent years, being too old for politics isn’t one of them.

Many women experience menopausal symptoms in their early 40s but feel if they dared admit it, they would be written off like some kind of faulty egg dispenser.

Some are plunged into early menopause through medications used in chemotherapy which can cause damage to ovaries.

A friend who had breast cancer was hurtled into the menopause by her treatment and suffered a sudden onslaught of the most debilitating symptoms, from insomnia to crippling anxiety.

Doctors can be ignorant of the issues caused by the menopause
Doctors can be ignorant of the issues caused by the menopause

On top of lumpectomies, chemo, radiation and losing her hair, this was a pile of crap heaped on a mountain of crap.

Yet when she asked her oncologist for help, she was told to try acupuncture.

Too often female cancer survivors are made to feel they should be so grateful to be alive that the quality of their life is
an irrelevance.

Like so many women, my friend turned to a private clinic, where her concerns were taken seriously and she was prescribed hormone therapy, including testosterone, to tackle hot flashes, sleep issues, irritability, and fatigue.

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Until Davina McCall and her Channel 4 taboo-busting documentary Sex, Myths and the Menopause, I had no idea how vital a hormone testosterone was to women and the negative impact of its depletion with age.

Davina also debunked the myth that HRT carries a high risk of causing breast cancer, a lie we all swallowed based on discredited science.

She deserves a damehood for giving so many menopausal women the chance to get their life back but it shouldn’t have taken a TV presenter to do what is the medical profession’s job.

The majority of doctors are woefully ignorant about the menopause and throw antidepressants at women or the cheapest, least-effective HRT treatments on the market.

This means the less wealthy remain ill-informed and helpless, languishing on antidepressants which can exacerbate symptoms including low libido.

This is where Sturgeon must do more to speed up proposals in the Scottish Government’s women’s health plan promising to widen access to specialist menopause services.

Unions such as Unite have written papers calling menopause “a workplace issue” and West Lothian Council has introduced a menopause policy for staff which includes an assistance programme.

Women must stop taking a stoical approach to menopause and demand better – not just for themselves but for the generations to come.

Exploitative hospitality bosses served

Brewdog has come under pressure over its work culture
Brewdog has come under pressure over its work culture

For two years we have been listening to millionaire restaurant and bar owners pleading poverty in the pandemic.

Despite hefty grants, loans and furlough, they have painted themselves as the worst hit by Covid.

While smaller businesses have gone to the wall, the wealthy have been propped up by public money when they should have been forced to dig into their own coffers.

And always the mantra has been that they are speaking out because they desperately want to keep their employees in a job.

It’s a brand-new beer club that we’ve created in the effort to make our readers’ beer-drinking dreams come true. Subscribe to it online here, and you’ll receive:

Please note…that is likely a minimum wage job on a zero-hour contract with few breaks and largely hellish conditions.

The union Unite listed almost 70 areas of grievance against trendy bars run by MacMerry 300 in Glasgow and Dundee.

And the £2billion company BrewDog had to apologise after it was subject to a grievance from its staff and is facing a host of new allegations.

Unite has been at the forefront of the fightback against exploitative working practices in the hospitality industry and as many staff as possible should join its ranks.

Now hospitality is opening up again – thanks to plenty of public money – we should all be demanding more for the industry’s staff.

Kanye eyes up plumb job

Kanye West stepped out in a bizarre get-up this week
Kanye West stepped out in a bizarre get-up this week

The artist formerly known as Kanye West has been trying his best to be incognito.

Not one to draw attention to himself, he dressed up like the guy you call out to fix an overflowing bog and ended up looking like the plumber who turns up in bad porn.

His latest squeeze Julia Fox has denied she was dating him for money and fame.

Which begs the question, what other reason could there possibly be?

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