A new campaign to make women more aware of the symptoms of menopause has won the backing of the Scottish Government.
The Pausitivity campaign - which aims to tackle the stigma around menopause, and ensure every GP surgery has easily available information for women - has been publicly supported by Minister for Older People and Equalities, Christina McKelvie.
Launched by former Scotsman journalist, Elizabeth Carr-Ellis, who found herself frustrated by a lack of information available at her GP surgery, the Pausitivity campaign also aims to empower women to spread the word themselves through social media.
Around one-third of the UK’s female population are either peri or post-menopausal, with an estimated one in four of them suffering debilitating symptoms that can last more than a decade.
Ms Carr-Ellis, who now writes the award-winning blog 50Sense, said: "Menopause hits every woman, but few are prepared for the symptoms beyond hot flushes. The campaign began with a Twitter discussion with so many women saying there was basically no information about menopause freely available at the GP surgery, even though it was something that would affect every female patient the GP had at some point in their lives.
"My GP had to print off information during the consultation and even then, one of the website links was no longer in use.
“None of us was prepared for how the menopause would hit us because nobody knew the symptoms. At school, you’re only told it’s when your periods stop. You’re not told how it can leave you feeling depressed or anxious, or how it can make you ache or forget things.
“As we talked about how there were leaflets and posters for many other conditions on display to read or take away, I began thinking: ‘Why don’t we just do one ourselves?’”
Scottish graphic designer Allyson Shields created the Pausitivity poster listing the major symptoms of menopause, including tiredness, joint aches and pains, vaginal dryness, heart palpitations, mood swings, anxiety and depression, forgetfulness, loss of libido and more.
“The idea is for women to download it and share it,” adds Carr-Ellis. “We want women to put it on local community boards or at the gym or their work noticeboard – anywhere where women can see it. We also want them to share photos of their pinned poster on social media under the hashtag #KnowYourMenopause.
“Hopefully, by knowing your menopause, we can help make life better for women around the country.”
The Pausitivity campaign comes two months after Ms McKelvie led a Scottish Parliament debate on menopause in a bid to end the “deafening silence” around the subject.
READ MORE: Menopause postcode lottery needs to end, says Labour
Today Ms McKelvie said: “The Scottish Government is happy to support Pausitivity’s campaign to raise awareness of the menopause.
"For too long it has been a taboo subject and not discussed as a natural part of ageing and life for women. This has to change and there must be a much greater understanding in society of the symptoms that women face, how it can impact on their lives and what health services, employers and families can do to support women going through the menopause.”
During the May debate the Scottish Government was urged to end the "postcode lottery" in menopause care to ensure all Scottish women receive the health support they need. Scottish Labour's health spokesperson Monica Lennon had said only five of Scotland’s 14 regional health boards have a dedicated menopause clinic, while there was no standardised form of recording data on menopause care in Scotland, either at clinics or by GPs.
But the Scottish Government said it was working with Health Boards on the provision of menopause services to ensure that women experiencing menopause symptoms were able to access appropriate advice and treatment.
There are NHS menopause clinics in Dumfries & Galloway, Fife, Grampian, Lothian, and Tayside while Health Boards in other areas provide menopause care through general practice and specialist referral if needed.