Advertising the menopause

Conversations around women’s health have shifted dramatically in recent years and have finally reached the menopause, once a taboo topic. On World Menopause Day, we look at the role brands can play in better representing older women’s experiences

“Knowledge really is power, so a key part of our purpose is to empower women with information and advice about the menopause so that they can make informed choices about what’s right for them,” says Helen Normoyle, co-founder of My Menopause Centre and former CMO of Boots.

Together with Dr Clare Spencer, the pair launched the online platform and clinic earlier this year, after being inspired by Normoyle’s own experience of going through the menopause. “I found it really hard to get easy-to-understand, scientifically-proven or evidence-based information and advice on menopausal symptoms, all in one place,” she says.

“There are some really strong negative consequences for many women who aren’t prepared or informed about the changes they go through, such as in their work life, their sex life, their relationships, and their social relationships.”

Normoyle says one of the main reasons for this is the level of taboo that still exists in society around the topic. Citing research My Menopause Centre conducted with Britain Thinks, she says they found that 47% of ­people believe it’s still an unspoken topic. In the workplace it’s even worse, with 67% of women feeling as though the menopause could impact their careers, and that talking to employers about their symptoms was almost impossible.

“I’d say the menopause is very much wrapped up in ageism. If we look at the representation of women in their 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond, the disparity is clear – they’re one of the biggest demographics, and they’re barely represented,” notes Normoyle. “Then if you dig into that, you just see a lot of stereotypes around how menopausal women are portrayed in terms of moodiness or hot flashes – they’re the butt of the joke. So that gives you a sense of why a lot of women might be reluctant to discuss the fact that they’re going through the menopause.”

Top: Still from Wombstories campaign 2020 for Libresse/Bodyform by AMV BBDO; Above: Still from Despair No More campaign 2021 for Tena Middle East by AMV BBDO and Impact BBDO

For Normoyle, brands and advertisers could be a real force for good in helping to change the conversation, but so far any attempts have been relatively lacklustre.