Europe

Woke Harrow bring in ‘menopause influencer’ to make schoolboys ‘considerate young men’

Gabby Logan says its important to talk to men about menopause

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In a bid to break the stigma around menopause, Harrow School, which costs parents £43,665 a year, has hired a social media influencer to teach boys what they need to know about “the change” in women’s bodies.

Lesley Salem, a “menopause influencer” and founder of Over The Bloody Moon (OTBM), an organisation with the mission to “remove the muddle from menopause”, will be in charge of putting 160 sixth-formers up to speed with the changes that women experience reached certain age next term.

The workshop, titled “in her shoes”, is set to draw parallels with puberty to help the teenagers understand the period in life when women don’t have their periods anymore and are no longer able to get pregnant naturally. It usually starts between the ages of 45 and 55.

Ms Salem, 49, told The Times: “They’ll have a mum, an aunt, a teacher going through the menopause right now.

“In the future, it will be partners, friends and colleagues.”

Harrow School, founded in 1572 under a Royal Charter granted by Queen Elizabeth I, boasts a list of famous alumni including former Prime Minister Winston Churchill, actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Edward Fox, singer James Blunt and director Richard Curtis.

Simon Sampson, head of personal, social, health and economic education (PHSE) at Harrow, said the school’s intention was for “Harrow boys to grow up as considerate young men, compassionate partners and more understanding colleagues”.

Ms Salem set up her educational movement in response to her own “personal experience and frustration with a lack of trusted information”.

The social media advocate said: “It was all triggered by coming off the pill to see whether I was still regularly bleeding, which for me was the marker of whether or not I was in the menopause.

“I wasn’t aware of oestrogen withdrawal or symptoms that can accompany that.”

Speaking to Good Housekeeping earlier this year, Mr Salem said: “Unless we start talking about menopause at work, we are going to keep on seeing women in their forties and fifties disappearing in droves.”

Her purpose to demystify the subject has gone further now – from the workplace to the classroom.

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The conversation around menopause has long been limited but there is today a long list of women who have spoken out about their experiences or spearheaded campaigns for change.

Thanks to Labour MP Carolyn Harris — and the support of an army of women — the government cut the cost of repeat Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) prescription charges in England in last month.

HRT treatment, which is already free in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, relieves symptoms of menopause by replacing the oestrogen and progesterone hormones the body no longer produces.

Ms Harris is now advocating for the prescription charges to be removed fully.

She also successfully pushed for menopause to be included in the sex education curriculum in English schools and for the creation of a menopause task force that “will encourage faster action and join up the dots across the system in order to take a coherent approach to improving support for those experiencing the menopause”.

The announcement of Harrow School’s workshop could set a precedent for other schools – an effect that would undoubtedly be celebrated among campaigners.

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