At Pelviva, we love hearing about how women are breaking taboos around the menopause. One such woman is Saska Graville who set up MPoweredWomen last year, providing a resource of inspiration and knowledge to help women power through the menopause. Read her journey below and do share any ‘adventure wee’ stories of your own with us – we’d love to hear them!
Ex deputy editor on popular glossy Red magazine, Saska Graville spent her thirties and forties in her dream job having the ‘best fun I’ve ever had’, creating content that resonated with her readers from humorous features to in-depth reads that dissected the issues of the day. Then, at 48, she moved into a new role as a director at a top PR firm and ‘unexpectedly hit a wall’.
“I simply didn’t know what had happened to me,” the sassy 53 year old explains. After 20 years absolutely loving my work, the buzz of the office and ploughing through my to-do list, I wasn’t myself. I was anxious and stressed, not sleeping well and unable to concentrate.”
The Perimenopause, who knew?
Working it out took a year. “It was like a light bulb coming on,” continues Saska after a 10 minute GP consultation where the doctor diagnosed symptoms of the perimenopause. It took several more visits to find a doctor who was educated about HRT, but eventually Saska got the right medication. “I was put on HRT which cleared up my symptoms almost immediately. I was transformed! My old self returned but almost a better version as I was more raring to go.
“My experience got me thinking. I found it unforgiveable that I just did not have a clue how this massive life stage would hit me especially as I’d spent my life in women’s magazines, talking about female issues! And, I thought, if I didn’t know about the perimenopause symptoms other women wouldn’t even stand a chance. It spurred me into action.
MPowered was Born
“I set up MPowered Women in 2019 to educate women – today’s generation and tomorrow’s – about the menopause and to help them celebrate the best they can be at midlife.
“It’s a cliché but women approaching the menopause aren’t hunkering down and retreating into themselves. They’re in the prime of their life, invested in their health and appearance, going to festivals, going to the gym. This is the side of women we’re portraying at MPowered Women.
“We’re a community providing expert, evidence-based information (no fanciful unproven theories allowed) from healthcare professionals and women who aren’t afraid to engage in frank conversations and share their menopause experiences but also their solutions. I’m convinced when women unite to help each other, magic happens!
“The menopause doesn’t have to knock your life off course. If we listen to, and take care of, our bodies by exercising more and perhaps drinking a little less (I’ve found wine is a no-go but a decent Gin and Tonic made with Fever Tree Light tonic is delicious!), we can be happy in our late 40s and 50s, set up businesses, be content and creative, there’s no limit.
“In fact, even going into lockdown, the future still feels bright. The enforced confinement to home has given me, and I suspect many of us women, a breathing space to think about our lives, take care of our ourselves, our health and plan for our futures – albeit I suspect slightly different ones.
One of the last taboos, within a taboo
“Interestingly, it took this lockdown for me to realise I have one of the other great unspoken issues of midlife – bladder leakage. I hadn’t really thought of it as an issue, until lockdown.
“I’ve been used to getting up a couple of times a night to go the loo for a while and accepted this as my new normal. However, out walking during lockdown, I realised that the little cafes and shops I’d pop into to visit the loo were all closed. So, on my walks, I’ve found my ‘wee tree’ in Holland Park. It’s hidden away but I know, if I suddenly have the urge to go for an ‘adventure’ wee when I’m on my daily hour’s exercise, I can!
“On investigation, I’ve discovered that needing a wee more frequently, is linked to urge incontinence which often strikes around the menopause, due to declining oestrogen levels reducing elasticity in pelvic floor muscles. Yet on more thing I didn’t know about the perimenopause.”
Words of Wisdom for Other Women
“Midlife is brilliant! Embrace it. You will be a stronger version of your younger self once you’ve dealt with any perimenopause or menopause symptoms. Don’t let these hold you back at this glorious time! I can honestly say that after my year-long blip at 48 I am happier, more confident and a dress size smaller!”
What do you think the health landscape will look like for women in five years’ time?
“We are now so much more open about mental health and periods than we used to be as a society and I think this will be the same for menopause in five years. At MPowered Women we are determined to drive change so that the next generation of women doesn’t have to find out the hard way, GPs will be more savvy about menopause facts and we won’t have 1 in 10 women leaving their jobs because they can’t find a solution to their symptoms. We simply can’t afford to lose any more great women to midlife menopause misunderstandings.”
My Perfect Day
“Saturday is my favourite day. I like spending it in London. I might do yoga in the morning, read the Saturday papers, have brunch then go to a gallery. I can do a version of this during lockdown, with Zoom yoga rather than a class at the gym, but it’s not the same. I miss the buzz of life and hope we can get back there very soon.”
MPowered Women is a community hub of expert information, support and inspiration, giving women resources and knowledge they need to power through the menopause. It’s a place where women come together to talk frankly and share experiences, because when women unite to help and inform each other, magic happens.