Women Of Colour Are Struggling To Access Menopause Support, Here's Why That Matters

The menopause ethnicity gap and why current advice is too focused on the experiences of white women.
A pensive African-American entrepreneur contemplating while sitting at the desk.
FreshSplash via Getty Images
A pensive African-American entrepreneur contemplating while sitting at the desk.

Nearly every woman and non-binary person with a uterus will experience menopause – yet some feel that their experiences aren’t being considered.

Following 25 years of research from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation – also known as SWAN – they’ve found that 51% of women from black, Asian, and minority ethnic backgrounds believe that current menopause advice is not representative and too focused on the experience of white women.

In fact, a quarter of women from minority ethnic communities find it difficult to access menopause support relevant to their specific backgrounds.

A little goes a long way, as nearly a third of those surveyed believe being able to speak to a healthcare professional of the same ethnicity and gender as them would have made a difference to their menopause experience. 15% even went as far as saying that being able to communicate in their mother tongue would make a positive difference.

Why race and cultural background matter with menopause

Cross-cultural research shows a person’s race and cultural background may impact how a woman may feel about menopause, the severity of their symptoms, when the symptoms might start, and even how long they will last.

Black women are more likely to have worse symptoms when experiencing menopause.

Additionally, Black women reach menopause 8.5 months earlier than White women. They’re also more likely to deal with worse symptoms such as hot flashes, depression, and sleep disturbances.

However, they are also less likely to receive hormone therapy, as well as help from medical and mental health services.

As a result of this, Holland & Barrett, is continuing its menopause campaign work to make “every menopause matter” with the help of Olympian and menopause campaigner, Michelle Griffith Robinson and expert Meera Bhogal.

The retailer is launching several new initiatives to make its information and support on menopause more inclusive by offering more diverse and personalised advice and content, tailored to different needs.

“In the South Asian community, women’s health isn’t talked about generally, so when I started experiencing perimenopausal symptoms at 40, I had no clue what was happening to me,” Meera Bhogal, says.

She wishes she was equipped with the right information when she was dealing with menopause. “I really want to help remove the stigma of menopause and open-up conversations and help women from all communities be able to access the advice and support they need,” Bhogal adds.

As part of the Every Menopause Matters campaign, customers will find menopause content online in different languages, and in a pilot, its ad campaign will be translated into Hindi to reach and support a wider community of women for whom language may be a barrier.

As well as this, the retailer has also partnered with leading women’s health charity, Wellbeing of Women, to launch The Women’s Health Community Fund.

They will provide resources to individuals and groups in under-served communities, with a specific focus on those from lower income families, from the LGBTQ+ community, ethnically diverse communities, and those with disabilities to raise awareness and provide information on menopause in the way that best reaches and serves the needs of their community.

“There are stark inequalities for women and people when accessing menopause information and care which are generally not designed to meet the particular needs of Black, Asian or other ethnic minority groups, as well as those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds or with disabilities and LGBTQ+,” Janet Lindsay, CEO, Wellbeing of Women, said.