University of Sunderland launches study on World Menopause Day to raise awareness and support women across Wearside

The University of Sunderland has launched a study into the menopause to raise awareness, lead education and support women.

Research will be conducted by the university into how the menopause impacts women’s lives, including family, friendships and work across academic and NHS workforces.

The study also aims to examine the sociocultural aspects of the menopause, focusing on Sunderland’s Black and Ethnic Minorities (BAME) population.

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Announced on World Menopause Day (Monday, October 18), the research will look at all areas of the menopause, which some feel has been shrouded in stigma, leaving many women experiencing reduced quality of life, with their relationships, employment and careers affected too.

Dr Yitka Graham is leading the research at the University of Sunderland.

It’s hoped that findings from the study – which was inspired by the University’s Menopause Staff Network group, launched during the first lockdown to connect with staff members experiencing symptoms and feeling isolated – could influence employers to adopt menopause-friendly policies in the workplace.

Leading the research is Dr Yitka Graham, Head of the Helen McArdle Nursing and Care Research Institute and Associate Professor in Health Services Research at the University of Sunderland.

She explained: “Many women feel they need to deal with the symptoms of menopause in silence, whether that is hot flushes, memory loss, brain fog or crippling anxiety, backed up by the fear of outdated cultural views of women who reach a certain age.

"In collaboration with our NHS partners, we will explore the wider issues affecting women across the City and how we can all work together to increase understanding of the menopause and develop workforce policies to support women at this time in their lives.”

University of Sunderland's city campus at Chester Road.

The research also hopes to inform the University’s own School of Nursing curriculum, to equip the next generation of nurses with knowledge that can transform women’s health.

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Nahida Aktar, BAME Health and Wellbeing Lead at The Sunderland Bangladesh International Centre, added: “One area of our work to be explored is our BAME communities’ views on menopause. It’s an area that needs urgent attention as there are known health inequalities in the BAME population.

"We are delighted to be working with the University to increase awareness of the menopause and ensure that we develop culturally appropriate information and support to improve quality of life for all women in Sunderland.”

Louise Thompson, University of Sunderland Programme Support Assistant at the Academic Registry, is among those who have been sharing their experiences of menopause.

Louise Thompson.
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Louise said she is a member of a menopause support group, which has greatly helped her.

“Menopause is often ridiculed, being ‘hormonal’ is made fun of. Having ‘women’s problem’s’ are thought to be petty and insignificant with a focus on hysteria,” she said.

“The group has been such a big help to me and to 15,000 members and has now been registered as a Not for Profit Community Interest Company. Their first fundraising Campaign is to ensure better education, information and support for the future.

"I have donated and if others feel able to do so they can access the go fund me page via the following link:

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