For World Menopause Day, The Voice spoke to Karen Arthur. She thinks Black women are often overlooked in menopause discussions. To fix the issue, she’s creating safe spaces online for them to share their experiences.
“When I started to go through menopause, no one was talking about it,” she explains.
For Arthur, the experience affected her mental health. She had a breakdown. If her doctor had the right knowledge, she thinks she would have had a better experience.
Arthur explains: “I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. No one was making the connection between anxiety, depression and menopause.”
She acknowledges that there are specialists, but accessing them isn’t easy.
This year, as racial tensions rose, Arthur thought about how Black women were missing from menopause discussions.
She searched online and was annoyed that she only found pictures of white women.
Her own research
It led to an Instagram rant, then a survey so she could learn more. She hoped 50 women would fill it out. In fact, 232 Black women completed her questionnaire.
“One of the questions is how many Black British women are speaking about menopause” she says.
Some women said Arthur was the only one they knew. The other name that came up was Trisha Goddard, who now lives stateside.
“When you hear the story of someone who looks like you, it is more likely to resonate which means you do not feel alone” she says plainly.
Safe online spaces
It is part of the reason she has started a podcast and an Instagram account.
For Arthur, more research is also needed so Black women’s experiences of menopause are better understood.
From her own personal research, she is convinced that menopause impacts Black women differently. She suggests they may start earlier, have more severe symptoms and are less likely to take hormone replacement therapy.
This issue isn’t helped because some people in the Black community don’t feel they can trust doctors, she explains.
Though that’s not the only problem.
“Sometimes it’s the whole strong, Black women idea – my mum managed it so I can too”
She hopes her daughters will be better informed so they don’t face the same challenges she did.
She adds: “I am not one of those people who think menopause is awful.
“If I started menopause now, knowing what I know now, I would have a very different experience.”
And what is the best way to help a menopausal person in your life? The most important thing is to listen to them, according to Arthur.
However, if you don’t feel comfortable doing that, she recommends listening to her podcast.