Paddy Gower Has Issues: Women reveal huge toll of menopause, lack of education and support

OPINION: Tuesday was World Menopause Day during World Menopause Month. Where was this kind of conversation and profile five years ago? Even two years ago. 

Tonight Three's Paddy Gower Has Issues is devoted to menopause. That's an hour of primetime television talking about women's health - what a gift. 

For me, the process of helping to share women's stories has been a deeply emotional and ultimately life-affirming experience. Seeing my own menopause journey reflected back at me, understanding that for so many Kiwi wāhine this perfectly natural phase in their lives can in fact be the very worst phase of their lives.  

Over 30 women in Hawkes Bay gathered together in menopausal solidarity to chat with me about their health and the impact going through these hormonal changes has had on them.  

The irrepressible LJ confessed it was a total "mindf**k" and she had no idea what was happening to her.  

Sarah, who owns and runs a successful business, went from confidently presenting to rooms full of hundreds of people to barely being able to get out of bed without crying.  

Young Auckland mother of three Jenna Scullin was only 34 when she was finally diagnosed with early menopause. She was experiencing sudden and extreme fatigue and anxiety coupled with heart palpitations. She hit absolute rock bottom, revealing she thought her family would be better off without her. 

It's stories like these from women at the menopausal frontline that serve to drive home this one irrefutable truth: each and every woman will have a different menopause journey.  

Some will breeze through it (lucky wenches), others will struggle a little and box on, and others will struggle a lot and still box on. But so many women will be pushed to the edge, unable to work, unable to function. And do you know what else I found? 

There are a tonne of people, just like me, who had no idea they were even suffering from menopausal symptoms at all, for years. 

So, what's changed about "The Change"?  The conversation for one thing. Women all over the world are now talking about menopause and seeking treatment for its symptoms.  

I feel my generation will be the last generation to stay silent. Lord knows my son and teenage stepdaughter are very well acquainted with my own menopause journey, as are my workmates and my friends. 

Knowledge is power and sharing that knowledge empowers others. 

Women in positions of real influence across the global medical fraternity are leading real change and leaders of all genders across the business sector and in the workplace are both leading and listening. But of course, there is so much more work to be done.  

One in 12 women quit their jobs because of menopause. During his pre-election leaders debate, Paddy Gower asked Christopher Luxon and Chris Hipkins whether they would support menopause leave for working women, both said yes. 

Now is the time to ask New Zealand women what they want.   

And do you wanna know what I want? What I want is to see an evolution, a revolution in the narrative around what it even means to be a menopausal woman. 

That erroneous depiction of a hot, sweaty, undesirable, hysterical, invisible woman is complete bullshit.  

I'm a 56-year-old menopausal working mother of two at the height of my damn powers and I am not done yet.  

Kate Rodger is Newshub's Entertainment Editor.

Watch Paddy Gower Has Issues on Three or ThreeNow.