Midlothian councillors give moving accounts of living with the menopause

Article By: Marie Sharp

Moving accounts of living with the menopause were given to Midlothian Council by its own elected members as they were asked to adopt a new policy to support women.

The menopause guidance, produced by COSLA, provides female councillors affected by the condition with additional support and confidence to raise any issues when symptoms might affect their duties.

Councillor Janet Lay-Douglas (Con) told colleagues about the experience of her mother, which had inspired her to talk to her own children about the menopause.

She said: “When I was around the age of 12, my mum struggled with going out and about. I realised later in life she had been experiencing panic attacks, sleepless night and had no one to speak to about it.”

Cllr Lay-Douglas added that she made sure she talked to her own teenage sons about the menopause in the hope that they would grow up with a better understanding of it.

Fellow councillor Dianne Alexander (SNP) told the virtual meeting of the council earlier this week that she had to cope with going through the menopause and bereavement, something not uncommon for women.

She said: “As someone who has gone through this process and bereavement over my own parents, it can be a horrific time.”

A report to councillors said that it was estimated in the UK that one in three women were either going through menopause or had been through it.

It added: “The menopause affects all women, and it can often indirectly affect their partners, families and colleagues as well.

“Studies have shown that three out of four women experience symptoms associated with the menopause, with one in four potentially experiencing serious symptoms.”

The new COSLA guidance aims to ensure councillors and the members’ services teams are aware of the menopause, related issues and how they can impact individuals.

It also aims to create an environment where councillors feel confident to raise issues about their symptoms and ask for adjustments when undertaking their duties and create a clear process for support being given to them.

Cllr Debbi McCall (SNP)said: “As a menopausal woman, I am particularly pleased to see this coming to council.”

Provost Peter Smail (Con)thanked councillors for sharing their “moving accounts” of their own experiences.

Councillors unanimously agreed to adopt the guidance.


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