Beyond the Stats

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By Isioma D Okolo, MBChB, DTMH, MRCOG

Ain't I A Woman? Part I

Menopause: in conversation with Dr Nighat Arif, BBC TV Doctor

Menopause is defined as the end of periods and reproductive ability in women. It is described retrospectively: following one year of no periods. On average womxn enter menopause around 51 years of age. Once in this phase of their lives, women mysteriously disappear. They disappear from our screens, from agendas, and from our discourse.


Menopausal issues such as incontinence, hot flushes, and mood changes, that have a significant impact on quality of life, are not spoken of.

  • 1 in 4 women will feel suicidal around the time of menopause
  • 1 in 4 women consider leaving their workplace around the time of menopause due to menopausal symptoms and lack of supportive work environments

But the menopause is more than menopausal symptoms. 


In this piece, we explore femininity, story telling, language, and advocacy around menopause with Dr. Nighat Arif.

Watch the conversation below:

Not able to watch on Youtube? Listen on SoundCloud:

Dr. Arif's Call to Action

  1. To laypeople: use your role to share information you have; if you’re a woman of color, use your voice and share your stories.
  2. To health workers: listen to women when they share their stories. We must take women’s cultural heritage into consideration when providing their care. 

  3. To policymakers: listen to the professionals in this field so that we’re able to do better and take away the shame and stigma in women’s health.

About Dr. Nighat Arif

A woman is prized in her fertility years because she makes the heir and the spare.

Dr Nighat on a menopause myth "… that is something that white women go through”.

Menopause can be a fun and liberating time. Your periods are over, there are many other things you can do with your life.

Dr. Nighat Arif is a Family General Practitioner doctor, with a specialist interest in Women’s Health & Family Planning. She is a passionate promoter of menopause care, wellness, self-care, and placing the patient at the center of their care plan. She is also a resident TV Doctor on BBC Breakfast, This Morning ITV, & BBC LookEast as well as the host of the Sunday Breakfast show on BBC3 Counties Radio.


Follow Nighat Arif on Twitter @DrNighatArif


In my pieces, I use the terms:

  • girls, women, womxn, pregnant people and birthing people to refer to some of the reproductive health experiences of individuals assigned female at birth 

  • minoritised in place of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous & people of color), POC (people of color), BAME (Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic)  and BME (Black & Minority Ethnic) to recognise that different individuals and communities do not naturally exist as minorities; but instead have been assigned this identity in response to dominant social narratives centred on ‘whiteness’. ‘Minoritised’ highlights contemporary power imbalances rooted in historical events of slavery, colonisation, and other systems of oppression.

Sneak Peek to Our Next Piece:

Ain’t I a Woman II: in conversation with Dr Jen Gunter, author of the Vagina Bible and Menopause Manifesto

Blogs by Isioma Dianne Okolo

The menopause is a natural part of the female life cycle. But why do women become invisible after the menopause? Dr Jen Gunter answers my question 'Ain't I A Woman?"

The menopause is a natural part of the female life cycle. But why do women become invisible after the menopause? Dr Naghat ARif answers my question " Ain't I A Woman?"

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