Sophie Wessex talks taboos around women's health including menopause

Sophie Wessex says menopause is ‘like a shackle’ and reveals she once ‘completely lost her train of thought’ during a royal engagement as she advocates for more conversations about taboos in women’s health

  • Countess of Wessex, 56, has opened up about going through the menopause
  • Speaking in a video call, described having a total mind blank at an engagement
  • Mother-of-two said: ‘It’s like somebody’s just gone and taken your brain out’
  • Sophie is the first spotlight to put spotlight on the previously taboo topic 
  • Advocated: ‘It’s about time we really had a grown-up conversation about it’

The Countess of Wessex has told how she completely lost her train of thought on an official engagement while trying to cope with the menopause.

Sophie, 56, held a video call to mark her new role as patron of the women’s health charity Wellbeing Of Women earlier this week, and became the first royal to put a spotlight on the previously taboo issue. 

Prince Edward’s wife shared her own experience of going through ‘the change’, describing it as a ‘shackle’ and saying: ‘It’s about time we really had a grown-up conversation about it.’

And she called for young girls to be educated more about what would happen at the end of their reproductive cycles as well as at the beginning.

The Countess of Wessex has told how she completely lost her train of thought on an official engagement while trying to cope with the menopause

In passionately open conversation, the mother-of-two said: ‘You know in the middle of a presentation when you suddenly can’t remember what you were talking about? 

‘Try being on an engagement when that happens – your words just go!’

‘And you’re standing there and going: “Hang on, I thought I was a reasonably intelligent person! What has just happened to me?”

‘It’s like somebody’s just gone and taken your brain out for however long before they pop it back in again and you try and pick up the pieces and carry on.’ 

Sophie, 56, held a a video call to mark her new role as patron of the women’s health charity Wellbeing Of Women earlier this week, and became the first royal to put a spotlight on the previously taboo issue

WHAT IS THE MENOPAUSE?

Menopause is defined as the changes a woman goes through just before and after she stops her periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally. 

Some women go through this time with few, if any, symptoms, around 60 percent experience symptoms resulting in behavioral changes and one in four will suffer severely. 

Common symptoms include hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness leading to discomfort during sex, disrupted sleep, decreased sex drive, problems with memory and concentration and mood swings.

Menopause happens when your ovaries stop producing as much of the hormone oestrogen and no longer release an egg each month.

In the UK, the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51, according to the NHS.

She added: ‘Really we should be celebrating the fact that we don’t have to have periods anymore. 

‘It should be a liberation but it feels like a shackle. It’s described as something incredibly negative.’

She continued: ‘I go back to education. How much are young girls actually told at the beginning? 

‘When we’re told that we’re going to begin our periods, are we told that they’re going to end as well?

‘The menstrual cycle, periods, the menopause, having babies… We all talk about having babies but nobody talks about periods; nobody talks about the menopause. Why not?’

Her comments came during a video call to mark her new role as patron of the women’s health charity Wellbeing Of Women.

Speaking last week with the organisation’s chairman Professor Dame Lesley Regan and other specialists, the countess highlighted the pressures women were under to look younger.

‘[The menopause] is an admittance of the fact that, yes, we’re getting a bit older,’ she said. ‘We’re not as young as we were before, we’re not being… “productive”. We are past that stage, and it’s quite a moment to admit it.

‘Whilst talk of the media and messaging about women, about women’s bodies, about our looks, everything is very superficial and we are trying to cling on to all of that for as long as we can.

‘We’ve got to be fit, we’ve got to be clever, we’ve got to be looking skinny, we’ve got to be looking beautiful, we’ve got to look 25 years old for the rest of our lives.

Sophie, who is a mother-of-two, called for young girls to be educated more about what would happen at the end of their reproductive cycles as well as at the beginning

‘But unfortunately our bodies are going: “Well, that’s fine, you can do all of that on the outside as much as you possibly can or as much as you can possibly afford to. But on the inside things are a little different.”’

The royal was also told that one in four women have considered leaving their jobs when reaching the menopause and said it was important to educate employers so as to support them.

This could include having a room where menopausal women can go to cool down for ten minutes if they have a hot flush – one of the more unpleasant symptoms of the condition. 

Or they could be given a fan without question instead of being put on the spot and asked ‘why on earth’ they would need something like that. 

Sophie Wessex, 56, travelled to North London to meet athletes and attend their game this morning 

It comes amid a busy period for Sophie, who yesterday travelled to London to meet wheelchair athletes and play a game of basketball with them.

Sophie, who is the royal patron of British Wheelchair Basketball, met with volunteers and players for a session in Haringey, North London, and had a go at playing with them. 

For the occasion, she donned a pair of casual skinny trousers with a blue hoodie and tucked her blond hair into a ponytail

In spite of the chilly temperature and grey skies, Prince Edward’s wife was all smiles as she met with the teenage players ahead of their game. 

Prince Edward’s wife, who is another-of-two, met with the teenage players ahead of the game. For the occasion, she wore jeans and a sweater 

She completed the sporty look with a pair of grey and blue trainers and kept her jewellery to a pair of emerald stud earrings. 

The athletes, all ready to play, were wearing their gear and smiled as they listened to Sophie’s motivating pep talk. 

When the game finally started, Sophie had a go at dribbling from a wheelchair and encouraged her team to help them secure a victory.  

The Countess has been the royal patron of British Wheelchair Basketball since 2013, and has attended several games like this one throughout her patronage. 

While she arrived wearing her hair down, the Countess swiftly gathered her blond locks into a ponytail, pictured 

Sophie seemed excited to meet with the several players who could make it to the game today, pictured, and chatted with ahead of the sporty event

The royal showed off her sporty look as she met with Adam Jogee, the Mayor of Haringey, right

Sophie, pictured, has been the royal patron of British Wheelchair Basketball since 2013 and has attended several events like ever since

The charity represents the sport and its players across Britain, according to their statistics, 17,000 people play the sport in the UK, and this participation could grow to reach up to 70,000. 

At the professional level, the GB men’s senior team won eight Paralympic medals and has been European Champions three times in a row, as well as bringing home the World Championship title in 2018.

Meanwhile the female team is the most successful team int he sport’s history, and hold the 2018 World Championship silver medal and won the European bronze medal six times in a row.   

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