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How one widow has changed how women solo travel

<p>After Yvonne Vickers' husband passed away in 2014, she thought her opportunities to travel and see the world had slipped away. </p> <p>Yvonne had always been a keen traveller and went on trips with her married friends after becoming a widow, but she "got over being the third wheel", she admitted to <a href="https://travel.nine.com.au/latest/cruising-solo-female-older-passengers/9553953c-84e8-418a-9c2b-8c9b847b9ba4" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>9Travel</em></a>. </p> <p>Still wanting to see the world on her own terms, Yvonne took to Facebook where she created a group seeking like-minded women who share her passion for adventure. </p> <p>Now, the Find A Female Cruise or Travel Buddy is an ever-growing group that has connected thousands of women looking for travel companions. </p> <p>Whether they're single, widowed, or just married to someone who doesn't want to travel, the group is open to women across the globe to join.</p> <p>Thanks to her newfound community, Yvonne has taken 41 cruises and dozens of land trips since her husband's death, all while making friends for life, and the rest of the group's members are in the same boat.</p> <p>"It's wonderful to get feedback from ladies saying that it's helped to change their life," Yvonne said. "That's the rewarding part of it for me."</p> <p>Members can make a post in the group, detailing a cruise sailing or trip that they have their eye on booking, to see if anyone else would like to join them.</p> <p>"We have a lot of widows in our group who are cashed up and want to travel but don't have anyone to travel with or share their experiences with," Yvonne said. "The group gives them the opportunity to be able to do that."</p> <p>"There are also a lot of ladies who are married but their husbands don't want to travel. It gives them the opportunity to be able to travel."</p> <p>Yvonne says that cruising is a perfect way for older females to travel, especially if they're on their own.</p> <p>"It's a really safe way to travel as a solo female," she says, also noting that it's an easy way to get around and see places. Recently, she did a 35-day trip around Hawaii with a group of women from the group.</p> <p>For the Find A Female Cruise or Travel Buddy group, there's even more fun trips on the horizon.</p> <p>Yvonne just came back from a trip to Japan with 14 group members, and is heading to Bali in August with a friend she made through the group.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Nine News \ Facebook</em></p>

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Longer appointments are just the start of tackling the gender pain gap. Here are 4 more things we can do

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michelle-oshea-457947">Michelle O'Shea</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-sydney-university-1092">Western Sydney University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hannah-adler-1533549">Hannah Adler</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828">Griffith University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/marilla-l-druitt-1533572">Marilla L. Druitt</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mike-armour-391382">Mike Armour</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-sydney-university-1092">Western Sydney University</a></em></p> <p>Ahead of the federal budget, health minister Mark Butler <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-05-10/endometriosis-australia-welcomes-govt-funding-for-endometriosis/103830392">last week announced</a> an investment of A$49.1 million to help women with endometriosis and complex gynaecological conditions such as chronic pelvic pain and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).</p> <p>From July 1 2025 <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/the-hon-mark-butler-mp/media/historic-medicare-changes-for-women-battling-endometriosis">two new items</a> will be added to the Medicare Benefits Schedule providing extended consultation times and higher rebates for specialist gynaecological care.</p> <p>The Medicare changes <a href="https://www1.racgp.org.au/newsgp/clinical/longer-consults-for-endometriosis-sufferers-on-the">will subsidise</a> $168.60 for a minimum of 45 minutes during a longer initial gynaecologist consultation, compared to the standard rate of $95.60. For follow-up consultations, Medicare will cover $84.35 for a minimum of 45 minutes, compared to the standard rate of $48.05.</p> <p>Currently, there’s <a href="https://www9.health.gov.au/mbs/fullDisplay.cfm?type=item&amp;q=104&amp;qt=item&amp;criteria=104">no specified time</a> for these initial or subsequent consultations.</p> <p>But while reductions to out-of-pocket medical expenses and extended specialist consultation times are welcome news, they’re only a first step in closing the gender pain gap.</p> <h2>Chronic pain affects more women</h2> <p>Globally, research has shown chronic pain (generally defined as pain that persists for <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/chronic-pain">more than three months</a>) disproportionately affects <a href="https://academic.oup.com/bja/article/111/1/52/331232?login=false">women</a>. Multiple biological and psychosocial processes likely contribute to this disparity, often called the gender pain gap.</p> <p>For example, chronic pain is frequently associated with conditions influenced by <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0304395914003868">hormones</a>, among other factors, such as endometriosis and <a href="https://theconversation.com/adenomyosis-causes-pain-heavy-periods-and-infertility-but-youve-probably-never-heard-of-it-104412">adenomyosis</a>. Chronic pelvic pain in women, regardless of the cause, can be debilitating and <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73389-2">negatively affect</a> every facet of life from social activities, to work and finances, to mental health and relationships.</p> <p>The gender pain gap is both rooted in and compounded by gender bias in medical research, treatment and social norms.</p> <p>The science that informs medicine – including the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease – has traditionally focused on men, thereby <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/apr/30/fda-clinical-trials-gender-gap-epa-nih-institute-of-medicine-cardiovascular-disease">failing to consider</a> the crucial impact of sex (biological) and gender (social) factors.</p> <p>When medical research adopts a “male as default” approach, this limits our understanding of pain conditions that predominantly affect women or how certain conditions affect men and women <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10921746/">differently</a>. It also means intersex, trans and gender-diverse people are <a href="https://www.deakin.edu.au/about-deakin/news-and-media-releases/articles/world-class-centre-tackles-sex-and-gender-inequities-in-health-and-medicine">commonly excluded</a> from medical research and health care.</p> <p>Minimisation or dismissal of pain along with the <a href="https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2016/3467067/">normalisation of menstrual pain</a> as just “part of being a woman” contribute to significant delays and misdiagnosis of women’s gynaecological and other health issues. Feeling dismissed, along with perceptions of stigma, can make women less likely <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12905-024-03063-6">to seek help</a> in the future.</p> <h2>Inadequate medical care</h2> <p>Unfortunately, even when women with endometriosis do seek care, many <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/imj.15494?saml_referrer">aren’t satisfied</a>. This is understandable when medical advice includes being told to become pregnant to treat their <a href="https://bmcwomenshealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12905-023-02794-2">endometriosis</a>, despite <a href="https://academic.oup.com/humupd/article/24/3/290/4859612?login=false">no evidence</a> pregnancy reduces symptoms. Pregnancy should be an autonomous choice, not a treatment option.</p> <p>It’s unsurprising people look for information from other, often <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2227-9032/12/1/121">uncredentialed</a>, sources. While online platforms including patient-led groups have provided women with new avenues of support, these forums should complement, rather than replace, <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1460458215602939">information from a doctor</a>.</p> <p>Longer Medicare-subsidised appointments are an important acknowledgement of women and their individual health needs. At present, many women feel their consultations with a gynaecologist are <a href="https://www1.racgp.org.au/newsgp/clinical/longer-consults-for-endometriosis-sufferers-on-the">rushed</a>. These conversations, which often include coming to terms with a diagnosis and management plan, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1496869/">take time</a>.</p> <h2>A path toward less pain</h2> <p>While extended consultation time and reduced out-of-pocket costs are a step in the right direction, they are only one part of a complex pain puzzle.</p> <p>If women are not listened to, their symptoms not recognised, and effective treatment options not adequately discussed and provided, longer gynaecological consultations may not help patients. So what else do we need to do?</p> <p><strong>1. Physician knowledge</strong></p> <p>Doctors’ knowledge of women’s pain requires development through both practitioner <a href="https://health-policy-systems.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12961-022-00815-4/tables/2">education and guidelines</a>. This knowledge should also include dedicated efforts toward understanding the <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/07/02/the-neuroscience-of-pain">neuroscience of pain</a>.</p> <p>Diagnostic processes should be tailored to consider gender-specific symptoms and responses to <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/eclinm/article/PIIS2589-5370(24)00137-8/fulltext">pain</a>.</p> <p><strong>2. Research and collaboration</strong></p> <p>Medical decisions should be based on the best and most inclusive evidence. Understanding the complexities of pain in women is essential for managing their pain. Collaboration between health-care experts from different disciplines can facilitate comprehensive and holistic pain research and management strategies.</p> <p><strong>3. Further care and service improvements</strong></p> <p>Women’s health requires multidisciplinary treatment and care which extends beyond their GP or specialist. For example, conditions like endometriosis often see people presenting to emergency departments in <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-disease/endometriosis-in-australia/contents/treatment-management/ed-presentations">acute pain</a>, so practitioners in these settings need to have the right knowledge and be able to provide support.</p> <p>Meanwhile, pelvic ultrasounds, especially the kind that have the potential to visualise endometriosis, take longer to perform and require a <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0015028223020757/">specialist sonographer</a>. Current rebates do not reflect the time and expertise needed for these imaging procedures.</p> <p><strong>4. Adjusting the parameters of ‘women’s pain’</strong></p> <p>Conditions like PCOS and endometriosis don’t just affect women – they also impact people who are gender-diverse. Improving how people in this group are treated is just as salient as addressing how we treat women.</p> <p>Similarly, the gynaecological health-care needs of culturally and linguistically diverse and Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander women may be even <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/20/13/6321">less likely to be met</a> than those of women in the general population.</p> <h2>Challenging gender norms</h2> <p>Research suggests one of the keys to reducing the gender pain gap is challenging deeply embedded <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29682130/">gendered norms</a> in clinical practice and research.</p> <p>We are hearing women’s suffering. Let’s make sure we are also listening and responding in ways that close the gender pain gap.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/229802/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michelle-oshea-457947">Michelle O'Shea</a>, Senior Lecturer, School of Business, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-sydney-university-1092">Western Sydney University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hannah-adler-1533549">Hannah Adler</a>, PhD candidate, health communication and health sociology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828">Griffith University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/marilla-l-druitt-1533572">Marilla L. Druitt</a>, Affiliate Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mike-armour-391382">Mike Armour</a>, Associate Professor at NICM Health Research Institute, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-sydney-university-1092">Western Sydney University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/longer-appointments-are-just-the-start-of-tackling-the-gender-pain-gap-here-are-4-more-things-we-can-do-229802">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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"It's up to men": Anthony Albanese joins violence against women rally

<p>Anthony Albanese has joined a rally in Canberra to protest the recent spate of acts of violence against women, admitting his government hasn't "done enough" to ensure Aussie women are protected. </p> <p>Addressing the 5,000-strong crowd at Parliament House, Mr Albanese delivered a fiery speech, demanding nationwide change to all levels of Australian society and asking protesters to hold him “accountable” for his government’s actions. </p> <p>Mr Albanese said Australia needed to change its “culture”, “attitudes” and “legal system” to end the scourge of violence against women that has already allegedly claimed the lives of 26 women this year.</p> <p>“We’re here today to demand that governments of all levels, must do better, including my own, and every state and territory government,” he said. </p> <p>“We’re here as well to say that society, and Australia, must do better. We need to change the culture, we need to change attitudes, we need to change the legal system."</p> <p>Mr Albanese spoke about some of the actions his government had taken to address the problem, including the introduction of domestic violence payments.</p> <p>A protester interrupted, saying “it’s not enough”.</p> <p>The prime minister replied, “I agree it’s not enough. I said that. We need to do more.”</p> <p>Mr Albanese finished his speech by calling the problem a “national crisis” and said one or two months of funding would not be enough to solve it.</p> <p>“It’s up to men to change men’s behaviour as well,” he said. “Yes, people do need to be made accountable and I’ll be accountable for what my government does.”</p> <p>Thousands took to the grounds of Parliament House on Sunday to listen to Albanese's address, where one of the event organisers Sarah Williams from the company WWYW (What Were You Wearing?), claims the Prime Minister lied to the crowd at the start of his stirring speech.</p> <p>In his speech in the afternoon, Mr Albanese suggested he had asked the rally organisers for permission to speak but had been knocked back. </p> <p>“We did ask to speak, myself and (Finance minister) Katy (Gallagher) and we were told that’s not possible,” he said to the 5000 strong crowd.</p> <p>“And that’s fine, we respect the organisers’ right to do that.”</p> <p>However, Ms Williams took to social media after the event to say the Prime Minister had "lied to the country". </p> <p>“The Prime Minister of Australia lied to his country today,” she began. </p> <p>“Representatives from (Finance Minister Katy) Gallagher and Albanese’s offices both said this morning that they were sure Katy would be happy to speak. Not the Prime Minister.”</p> <p>“He never asked to speak. For him to not only demand he speak because he was being heckled, but lie was disgraceful."</p> <p>“He demonstrated today what entitlement looks like. A man with power trying to diminish a vulnerable young woman.”</p> <p>In an awkward and tense exchange, Ms Williams then demanded the politicians show their commitment to the organisation’s demands, and declare that the recent spate of murders of women by men was a national emergency. </p> <p>However, the Labor ministers appeared non-responsive and confused, initially refusing to front the rally, a move which brought boos and heckling from the audience. </p> <p>“Why are you even here?” one protester yelled from the crowd.</p> <p>“Shame on you,” shouted another.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images / Instagram</em></p>

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How tracking menopause symptoms can give women more control over their health

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/deborah-lancastle-1452267">Deborah Lancastle</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-wales-1586">University of South Wales</a></em></p> <p>Menopause can cause more symptoms than hot flushes alone. And some of your symptoms and reactions might be due to the menopause, even if you are still having periods. Research shows that keeping track of those symptoms can help to alleviate them.</p> <p>People sometimes talk about the menopause as though it were a single event that happens when you are in your early 50s, which is <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/symptoms-causes/syc-20353397#:%7E:text=Menopause%20is%20the%20time%20that,is%20a%20natural%20biological%20process.">the average time</a> to have your last period. But the menopause generally stretches between the ages of 45 and 55. And some women will experience an earlier “medical” menopause because of surgery to remove the womb or ovaries.</p> <p>The menopause often happens at one of the busiest times of life. You might have teenagers at home or be supporting grown-up children, have elderly parents, be employed and have a great social life. If you feel exhausted, hot and bothered, irritable and can’t sleep well, you might be tempted to think that it is because you never get a minute’s peace. But that is why monitoring symptoms is important.</p> <p><a href="https://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/Abstract/2023/03000/Symptom_monitoring_improves_physical_and_emotional.7.aspx">My team recently tested</a> the effects of tracking symptoms and emotions during the menopause. We asked women to rate 30 physical and 20 emotional symptoms of the menopause.</p> <p>The physical and psychological symptoms included poor concentration, problems with digesting food, stress and itchy skin, as well as the obvious symptoms like hot flushes and night sweats. Women tracked positive emotions like happiness and contentment, and negative emotions like feeling sad, isolated and angry.</p> <p>There were two groups of women in this study. One group recorded their symptoms and emotions every day for two weeks. The other group recorded their symptoms and emotions once at the beginning of the fortnight and once at the end.</p> <p>The results showed that the women who monitored their symptoms and emotions every day reported much lower negative emotions, physical symptoms and loneliness at the end of two weeks than at the beginning, compared to the other group.</p> <p>As well as this, although the loneliness scores of the group who monitored every day were lower than the other group, women in both groups said that being in the study and thinking about symptoms helped them feel less lonely. Simply knowing that other women were having similar experiences seemed to help.</p> <p>One participant said: “I feel more normal that other women are doing the same survey and are probably experiencing similar issues, especially the emotional and mental ones.”</p> <h2>Why does monitoring symptoms help?</h2> <p>One reason why tracking might help is that rating symptoms can help you notice changes and patterns in how you feel. This could encourage you to seek help.</p> <p>Another reason is that noticing changes in symptoms might help you link the change to what you have been doing. For example, looking at whether symptoms spike after eating certain foods or are better after exercise. This could mean that you change your behaviour in ways that improve your symptoms.</p> <p>Many menopause symptoms are known as “non-specific” symptoms. This is because they can also be symptoms of mental health, thyroid or heart problems. It is important not to think your symptoms are “just” the menopause. You should always speak to your doctor if you are worried about your health.</p> <p>Another good thing about monitoring symptoms is that you can take information about how often you experience symptoms and how bad they are to your GP appointment. This can help the doctor decide what might be the problem.</p> <p>Websites such as <a href="https://healthandher.com">Health and Her</a> and <a href="https://www.balance-menopause.com">Balance</a> offer symptom monitoring tools that can help you track what is happening to your physical and emotional health. There are several apps you can use on your phone, too. Or you might prefer to note symptoms and how bad they are in a notebook every day.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/209004/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/deborah-lancastle-1452267">Deborah Lancastle</a>, Associate Professor of Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-wales-1586">University of South Wales</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-tracking-menopause-symptoms-can-give-women-more-control-over-their-health-209004">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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‘Girl math’ may not be smart financial advice, but it could help women feel more empowered with money

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ylva-baeckstrom-1463175">Ylva Baeckstrom</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/kings-college-london-1196">King's College London</a></em></p> <p>If you’ve ever calculated cost per wear to justify the price of an expensive dress, or felt like you’ve made a profit after returning an ill-fitting pair of jeans, you might be an expert in <a href="https://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/girl-maths-tiktok-trend-its-basically-free-b1100504.html">“girl math”</a>. With videos about the topic going viral on social media, girl math might seem like a silly (<a href="https://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/article/girl-math-womens-spending-taken-seriously">or even sexist</a>) trend, but it actually tells us a lot about the relationship between gender, money and emotions.</p> <p>Girl math introduces a spend classification system: purchases below a certain value, or made in cash, don’t “count”. Psychologically, this makes low-value spending feel safe and emphasises the importance of the long-term value derived from more expensive items. For example, girl math tells us that buying an expensive dress is only “worth it” if you can wear it to multiple events.</p> <p>This approach has similarities to <a href="https://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/modernportfoliotheory.asp">portfolio theory</a> – a method of choosing investments to maximise expected returns and minimise risk. By evaluating how each purchase contributes to the shopping portfolio, girl math shoppers essentially become shopping portfolio managers.</p> <h2>Money and emotions</h2> <p>People of all genders, rich or poor, feel anxious when dealing with their personal finances. Many people in the UK do not understand pensions or saving enough to <a href="https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/workplacepensions/articles/pensionparticipationatrecordhighbutcontributionsclusteratminimumlevels/2018-05-04">afford their retirement</a>. Without motivation to learn, people avoid dealing with money altogether. One way to find this motivation, as girl math shows, is by having an emotional and tangible connection to our finances.</p> <p>On the surface, it may seem that women are being ridiculed and encouraged to overspend by using girl math. From a different perspective, it hints at something critical: for a person to really care about something as seemingly abstract as personal finance, they need to feel that they can relate to it.</p> <p>Thinking about money in terms of the value of purchases can help create an <a href="https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/every-time-i-use-my-card-my-phone-buzzes-and-that-stops-me-shopping-ps0fjx6nj">emotional relationship</a> to finance, making it something people want to look after.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/GPzA7B6dcxc?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <h2>The girl math we need</h2> <p>Women are a consumer force to be reckoned with, controlling <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/bridgetbrennan/2015/01/21/top-10-things-everyone-should-know-about-women-consumers/#7679f9d6a8b4">up to 80%</a> of consumer spending globally. The girl math trend is a demonstration of women’s mastery at applying portfolio theory to their shopping, making them investment powerhouses whose potential is overlooked by the financial services industry.</p> <p><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/28/women-paid-less-than-men-over-careers-gender-pay-gap-report">Women are disadvantaged</a> when it comes to money and finance. Women in the UK earn on average £260,000 less than men during their careers and the retirement income of men is twice as high as women’s.</p> <p>As I’ve found in <a href="https://www.routledge.com/Gender-and-Finance-Addressing-Inequality-in-the-Financial-Services-Industry/Baeckstrom/p/book/9781032055572">my research</a> on gender and finance, women have lower financial self-efficacy (belief in their own abilities) compared to men. This is not helped by women feeling patronised when seeking financial advice.</p> <p>Because the world of finance was created by men for men, its language and culture are <a href="https://www.routledge.com/Gender-and-Finance-Addressing-Inequality-in-the-Financial-Services-Industry/Baeckstrom/p/book/9781032055572">intrinsically male</a>. Only in the mid-1970s did women in the UK gain the legal right to open a bank account without a male signature and it was not until 1980 that they could apply for credit independently. With the law now more (<a href="https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2023/03/02/pace-of-reform-toward-equal-rights-for-women-falls-to-20-year-low">but not fully</a>) gender equal, the financial services industry has failed to connect with women.</p> <p>Studies show that 49% of women are <a href="https://www.ellevest.com/magazine/disrupt-money/ellevest-financial-wellness-survey">anxious about their finances</a>. However they have not bought into patronising offers and <a href="https://www.fa-mag.com/news/gender-roles-block-female-financial-experience--ubs-says-73531.html">mansplaining by financial advisers</a>. This outdated approach suggests that it is women, rather than the malfunctioning financial system, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/sep/16/women-are-not-financially-illiterate-they-need-more-than-condescending-advice">who need fixing</a>.</p> <p>Women continue to feel that they do not belong to or are able to trust the world of finance. And why would women trust an industry with a <a href="https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/earningsandworkinghours/bulletins/genderpaygapintheuk/2019">gender pay gap</a> of up to 59% and a severe lack of women in senior positions?</p> <p>Girl math on its own isn’t necessarily good financial advice, but if it helps even a handful of women feel more empowered to manage and understand their finances, it should not be dismissed.</p> <p><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ylva-baeckstrom-1463175">Ylva Baeckstrom</a>, Senior Lecturer in Finance, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/kings-college-london-1196">King's College London</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/girl-math-may-not-be-smart-financial-advice-but-it-could-help-women-feel-more-empowered-with-money-211780">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Money & Banking

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What are the four waves of feminism? And what comes next?

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sharon-crozier-de-rosa-122804">S<em>haron Crozier-De Rosa</em></a><em>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-wollongong-711">University of Wollongong</a></em></p> <p>In Western countries, feminist history is generally packaged as a story of “waves”. The so-called first wave lasted from the mid-19th century to 1920. The second wave spanned the 1960s to the early 1980s. The third wave began in the mid-1990s and lasted until the 2010s. Finally, some say we are experiencing a fourth wave, which began in the mid-2010s and continues now.</p> <p>The first person to use “waves” was journalist Martha Weinman Lear, in her 1968 New York Times article, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/1968/03/10/archives/the-second-feminist-wave.html">The Second Feminist Wave</a>, demonstrating that the women’s liberation movement was another <a href="https://www.vox.com/2018/3/20/16955588/feminism-waves-explained-first-second-third-fourth">“new chapter</a> in a grand history of women fighting together for their rights”. She was responding to anti-feminists’ framing of the movement as a “<a href="https://www.vox.com/2018/3/20/16955588/feminism-waves-explained-first-second-third-fourth">bizarre historical aberration</a>”.</p> <p><a href="https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/718868">Some feminists</a> criticise the usefulness of the metaphor. Where do feminists who preceded the first wave sit? For instance, Middle Ages feminist writer <a href="https://blogs.loc.gov/bibliomania/2023/08/30/christine-de-pizan/">Christine de Pizan</a>, or philosopher <a href="https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/wollstonecraft/">Mary Wollstonecraft</a>, author of <a href="https://www.penguin.com.au/books/a-vindication-of-the-rights-of-woman-9780141441252">A Vindication of the Rights of Woman</a> (1792).</p> <p>Does the metaphor of a single wave <a href="https://www.vox.com/2018/3/20/16955588/feminism-waves-explained-first-second-third-fourth">overshadow</a> the complex variety of feminist concerns and demands? And does this language exclude the <a href="https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/718868">non-West</a>, for whom the “waves” story is meaningless?</p> <p>Despite these concerns, countless feminists <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/317322421_Finding_a_Place_in_History_The_Discursive_Legacy_of_the_Wave_Metaphor_and_Contemporary_Feminism">continue to use</a> “waves” to explain their position in relation to previous generations.</p> <h2>The first wave: from 1848</h2> <p>The first wave of feminism refers to the campaign for the vote. It began in the United States in 1848 with the <a href="https://www.loc.gov/exhibitions/women-fight-for-the-vote/about-this-exhibition/seneca-falls-and-building-a-movement-1776-1890/">Seneca Falls Convention</a>, where 300 gathered to debate Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s Declaration of Sentiments, outlining women’s inferior status and demanding suffrage – or, the right to vote.</p> <p>It continued over a decade later, in 1866, in Britain, with the presentation of a <a href="https://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/electionsvoting/womenvote/parliamentary-collections/1866-suffrage-petition/presenting-the-petition/">suffrage petition</a> to parliament.</p> <p>This wave ended in 1920, when women were granted the right to vote in the US. (Limited women’s suffrage had been introduced in Britain two years earlier, in 1918.) First-wave activists believed once the vote had been won, women could use its power to enact other much-needed reforms, related to property ownership, education, employment and more.</p> <p>White leaders dominated the movement. They included longtime president of the the International Woman Suffrage Alliance <a href="https://cattcenter.iastate.edu/home/about-us/carrie-chapman-catt/">Carrie Chapman Catt</a> in the US, leader of the militant Women’s Social and Political Union <a href="https://www.britannica.com/biography/Emmeline-Pankhurst">Emmeline Pankhurst</a> in the UK, and <a href="https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/spence-catherine-helen-4627">Catherine Helen Spence</a> and <a href="https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/goldstein-vida-jane-6418">Vida Goldstein</a> in Australia.</p> <p>This has tended to obscure the histories of non-white feminists like evangelist and social reformer <a href="https://www.britannica.com/biography/Sojourner-Truth">Sojourner Truth</a> and journalist, activist and researcher <a href="https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/ida-b-wells-barnett">Ida B. Wells</a>, who were fighting on multiple fronts – including anti-slavery and anti-lynching –  as well as feminism.</p> <h2>The second wave: from 1963</h2> <p>The second wave coincided with the publication of US feminist Betty Friedan’s <a href="https://www.penguin.com.au/books/the-feminine-mystique-9780141192055">The Feminine Mystique</a> in 1963. Friedan’s “<a href="https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/powerful-complicated-legacy-betty-friedans-feminine-mystique-180976931/">powerful treatise</a>” raised critical interest in issues that came to define the women’s liberation movement until the early 1980s, like workplace equality, birth control and abortion, and women’s education.</p> <p>Women came together in “consciousness-raising” groups to share their individual experiences of oppression. These discussions informed and motivated public agitation for <a href="https://www.berghahnbooks.com/title/HaeberlenPolitics">gender equality and social change</a>. Sexuality and gender-based violence were other prominent second-wave concerns.</p> <p>Australian feminist Germaine Greer wrote <a href="https://www.harpercollins.com.au/9780007205011/the-female-eunuch/">The Female Eunuch</a>, published in 1970, which <a href="https://theconversation.com/friday-essay-the-female-eunuch-at-50-germaine-greers-fearless-feminist-masterpiece-147437">urged women to</a> “challenge the ties binding them to gender inequality and domestic servitude” – and to ignore repressive male authority by exploring their sexuality.</p> <p>Successful lobbying saw the establishment of refuges for women and children fleeing domestic violence and rape. In Australia, there were groundbreaking political appointments, including the world’s first Women’s Advisor to a national government (<a href="https://www.nma.gov.au/audio/landmark-women/transcripts/landmark-women-elizabeth-reid-181013.mp3-transcript">Elizabeth Reid</a>). In 1977, a <a href="https://www.whitlam.org/women-and-whitlam">Royal Commission on Human Relationships</a> examined families, gender and sexuality.</p> <p>Amid these developments, in 1975, Anne Summers published <a href="https://theconversation.com/damned-whores-and-gods-police-is-still-relevant-to-australia-40-years-on-mores-the-pity-47753">Damned Whores and God’s Police</a>, a scathing historical critique of women’s treatment in patriarchal Australia.</p> <p>At the same time as they made advances, so-called women’s libbers managed to anger earlier feminists with their distinctive claims to radicalism. Tireless campaigner <a href="https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/rich-ruby-sophia-14202">Ruby Rich</a>, who was president of the Australian Federation of Women Voters from 1945 to 1948, responded by declaring the only difference was her generation had called their movement “<a href="https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-296328435/findingaid">justice for women</a>”, not “liberation”.</p> <p>Like the first wave, mainstream second-wave activism proved largely irrelevant to non-white women, who faced oppression on intersecting gendered and racialised grounds. African American feminists produced their own critical texts, including bell hooks’ <a href="https://www.routledge.com/Aint-I-a-Woman-Black-Women-and-Feminism/hooks/p/book/9781138821514">Ain’t I a Woman? Black Women and Feminism</a> in 1981 and Audre Lorde’s <a href="https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/198292/sister-outsider-by-audre-lorde/">Sister Outsider</a> in 1984.</p> <h2>The third wave: from 1992</h2> <p>The third wave was announced in the 1990s. The term is popularly attributed to Rebecca Walker, daughter of African American feminist activist and writer <a href="https://alicewalkersgarden.com/about/">Alice Walker</a> (author of <a href="https://www.hachette.com.au/alice-walker/the-color-purple-now-a-major-motion-picture-from-oprah-winfrey-and-steven-spielberg">The Color Purple</a>).</p> <p>Aged 22, Rebecca proclaimed in a 1992 Ms. magazine <a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20200404030632/http:/heathengrrl.blogspot.com/2007/02/becoming-third-wave-by-rebecca-walker.html">article</a>: “I am not a post-feminism feminist. I am the Third Wave.”</p> <p>Third wavers didn’t think gender equality had been more or less achieved. But they did share <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1464700119842555">post-feminists</a>’ belief that their foremothers’ concerns and demands were obsolete. They argued women’s experiences were now shaped by <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14680777.2016.1190046">very different</a> political, economic, technological and cultural conditions.</p> <p>The third wave has been described as “an <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/beauty/meet-the-woman-who-coined-the-term-third-wave-feminism-20180302-p4z2mw.html">individualised feminism</a> that can not exist without diversity, sex positivity and intersectionality”.</p> <p>Intersectionality, <a href="https://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1052&amp;context=uclf">coined</a> in 1989 by African American legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, recognises that people can experience intersecting layers of oppression due to race, gender, sexuality, class, ethnicity and more. Crenshaw notes this was a “lived experience” before it was a term.</p> <p>In 2000, Aileen Moreton Robinson’s <a href="https://www.uqp.com.au/books/talkin-up-to-the-white-woman-indigenous-women-and-feminism-20th-anniversary-edition">Talkin’ Up to the White Woman: Indigenous Women and Feminism</a> expressed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s frustration that white feminism did not adequately address the legacies of dispossession, violence, racism, and sexism.</p> <p>Certainly, the third wave accommodated <a href="https://paromitapain.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/10.10072F978-3-319-72917-6.pdf#page=112%22">kaleidoscopic views</a>. Some scholars claimed it “grappled with fragmented interests and objectives” – or micropolitics. These included ongoing issues such as sexual harassment in the workplace and a scarcity of women in positions of power.</p> <p>The third wave also gave birth to the <a href="https://www.nme.com/blogs/nme-blogs/brief-history-riot-grrrl-space-reclaiming-90s-punk-movement-2542166">Riot Grrrl</a> movement and “girl power”. Feminist punk bands like <a href="https://bikinikill.com/about/">Bikini Kill</a> in the US, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/music/2022/nov/28/pussy-riot-beaten-jailed-exiled-taunting-putin">Pussy Riot</a> in Russia and Australia’s <a href="https://www.vice.com/en/article/mbknev/little-ugly-girls-tractor-album-single-premiere-2018">Little Ugly Girls</a> sang about issues like homophobia, sexual harassment, misogyny, racism, and female empowerment.</p> <p>Riot Grrrl’s <a href="https://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/riotgrrrlmanifesto.html">manifesto</a> states “we are angry at a society that tells us Girl = Dumb, Girl = Bad, Girl = Weak”. “Girl power” was epitomised by Britain’s more sugary, phenomenally popular Spice Girls, who were accused of peddling “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2021/sep/14/spice-girls-how-girl-power-changed-britain-review-fabulous-and-intimate">‘diluted feminism’ to the masses</a>”.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/tAbhaguKARw?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Riot Grrrrl sang about issues like homophobia, sexual harassment, misogyny and racism.</span></figcaption></figure> <h2>The fourth wave: 2013 to now</h2> <p>The fourth wave is epitomised by “<a href="https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol25/iss2/10/">digital or online feminism</a>” which gained currency in about <a href="https://www.vox.com/2018/3/20/16955588/feminism-waves-explained-first-second-third-fourth">2013</a>. This era is marked by mass online mobilisation. The fourth wave generation is connected via new communication technologies in ways that were not previously possible.</p> <p>Online mobilisation has led to spectacular street demonstrations, including the #metoo movement. #Metoo was first founded by Black activist <a href="https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/tarana-burke">Tarana Burke</a> in 2006, to support survivors of sexual abuse. The hashtag #metoo then went viral during the 2017 Harvey Weinstein <a href="https://www.npr.org/2022/10/28/1131500833/me-too-harvey-weinstein-anniversary">sexual abuse scandal</a>. It was used at least <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0747563221002193">19 million times</a> on Twitter (now X) alone.</p> <p>In January 2017, the <a href="https://www.womensmarch.com/">Women’s March</a> protested the inauguration of the decidedly misogynistic Donald Trump as US president. <a href="https://www.britannica.com/event/Womens-March-2017">Approximately 500,000</a> women marched in Washington DC, with demonstrations held simultaneously in <a href="https://www.routledge.com/Remembering-Womens-Activism/Crozier-De-Rosa-Mackie/p/book/9781138794894">81 nations</a> on all continents of the globe, even Antarctica.</p> <p>In 2021, the <a href="https://catalogue.nla.gov.au/catalog/8564388">Women’s March4Justice</a> saw some 110,000 women rallying at more than 200 events across Australian cities and towns, protesting workplace sexual harassment and violence against women, following high-profile cases like that of Brittany Higgins, revealing <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/nov/29/brittany-higgins-bruce-lehrmann-defamation-trial-evidence-stand-rape-allegations-liberal-party-ntwnfb#:%7E:text=Bruce%20Lehrmann%20has%20brought%20a,Wilkinson%20are%20defending%20the%20case.">sexual misconduct</a> in the Australian houses of parliament.</p> <p>Given the prevalence of online connection, it is not surprising fourth wave feminism has reached across geographic regions. The Global Fund for Women <a href="https://www.globalfundforwomen.org/movements/me-too/">reports</a> that #metoo transcends national borders. In China, it is, among other things, #米兔 (translated as “<a href="https://www.ft.com/content/61903744-9540-11e8-b67b-b8205561c3fe">rice bunny</a>”, pronounced as “mi tu”). In Nigeria, it’s <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=we-F0Gi0Lqs">#Sex4Grades</a>. In Turkey, it’s #<a href="https://ahvalnews.com/sexual-harrasment/dozens-turkish-womens-organisations-issue-statement-backing-latest-metoo-movement">UykularınızKaçsın</a> (“may you lose sleep”).</p> <p>In an inversion of the traditional narrative of the Global North leading the Global South in terms of feminist “progress”, Argentina’s “<a href="https://www.auswhn.com.au/blog/colour-green/">Green Wave</a>” has seen it decriminalise abortion, as has Colombia. Meanwhile, in 2022, the US Supreme Court <a href="https://theconversation.com/us-supreme-court-overturns-roe-v-wade-but-for-abortion-opponents-this-is-just-the-beginning-185768">overturned historic abortion legislation</a>.</p> <p>Whatever the nuances, the prevalence of such highly visible gender protests have led some feminists, like <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14680777.2020.1804431">Red Chidgey</a>, lecturer in Gender and Media at King’s College London, to declare that feminism has transformed from “a dirty word and publicly abandoned politics” to an ideology sporting “a new cool status”.</p> <h2>Where to now?</h2> <p>How do we know when to pronounce the next “wave”? (Spoiler alert: I have no answer.) Should we even continue to use the term “waves”?</p> <p>The “wave” framework was first used to demonstrate feminist continuity and solidarity. However, whether interpreted as disconnected chunks of feminist activity or connected periods of feminist activity and inactivity, represented by the crests and troughs of waves, some believe it encourages binary thinking that produces <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14680777.2016.1190046">intergenerational antagonism</a>.</p> <p>Back in 1983, Australian writer and second-wave feminist Dale Spender, who died last year, <a href="https://www.historyworkshop.org.uk/feminism/radical-books-dale-spender-theres-always-been-a-womens-movement-this-century-1983/">confessed her fear</a> that if each generation of women did not know they had robust histories of struggle and achievement behind them, they would labour under the illusion they’d have to develop feminism anew. Surely, this would be an overwhelming prospect.</p> <p>What does this mean for “waves” in 2024 and beyond?</p> <p>To build vigorous varieties of feminism going forward, we might reframe the “waves”. We need to let emerging generations of feminists know they are not living in an isolated moment, with the onerous job of starting afresh. Rather, they have the momentum created by generations upon generations of women to build on.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/224153/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sharon-crozier-de-rosa-122804"><em>Sharon Crozier-De Rosa</em></a><em>, Professor, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-wollongong-711">University of Wollongong</a></em></p> <p><em>Image </em><em>credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-are-the-four-waves-of-feminism-and-what-comes-next-224153">original article</a>.</em></p>

Caring

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How long does menopause last? 5 tips for navigating uncertain times

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/yvonne-middlewick-1395795">Yvonne Middlewick</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p>Around half of the world’s population are women or people who menstruate – yet the way their body works can be a mystery, even to them.</p> <p>Most women will experience periods roughly every month, many will go through childbirth and those who live into midlife will experience menopause.</p> <p>While menopause is a significant time of change, it isn’t talked about much, other than as a punchline. This may contribute to keeping it a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/membership/2019/sep/21/breaking-the-menopause-taboo-there-are-vital-stories-we-should-continue-to-pursue">taboo topic</a>.</p> <p>So, what happens during menopause? How do you know when it is happening to you? And – the thing most women want to know – how long will it last?</p> <h2>What is menopause?</h2> <p>Menopause is <a href="https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-menopause">defined</a> as the permanent cessation of menstruation, which is medically determined to be one year after the final menstrual period. After this time women are considered to be postmenopausal.</p> <p>The <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26598775/">average age</a> of “natural menopause” (that is not caused by a medical condition, treatment or surgery) is considered to be around 51 years.</p> <p>However, natural menopause does not occur suddenly. <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Riitta-Luoto/publication/46425690_Prevalence_of_menopause_symptoms_and_their_association_with_lifestyle_among_Finnish_middle-aged_women/links/5c5704ac458515a4c7553c7b/Prevalence-of-menopause-symptoms-and-their-association-with-lifestyle-among-Finnish-middle-aged-women.pdf">Changes can begin</a> a number of years before periods stop and most often occur in a woman’s 40s but they can be earlier. Changes <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25686030/">can continue</a> for 10 years or more after periods have stopped.</p> <p>Using hormones such as the oral contraceptive pill or hormone intrauterine devices may make it more <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31934948/">difficult to determine</a> when changes start.</p> <p>Menopause that occurs <a href="https://www.womenshealth.gov/menopause/early-or-premature-menopause#:%7E:text=Menopause%20that%20happens%20before%20age,to%20come%20earlier%20than%20usual.">before 45</a> is called “early menopause”, while menopause before 40 is called “premature menopause”.</p> <h2>What about perimenopause?</h2> <p>Various <a href="https://www.menopause.org.au/hp/information-sheets/glossary-of-terms">terms</a> are used to describe this period of change, including “menopause” or “the menopause”, “menopausal transition”, “perimenopause” or “<a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12188398/">climacteric</a>”.</p> <p>These terms tend to refer to the period before and after the final menstrual period, when changes are considered to be related to menopause.</p> <p>The difficulty with the definition of menopause is it can only be decided retrospectively. Yet women can experience changes many years before their periods stop (a lead up usually called “perimenopause”). Also, any <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/sdfe/pdf/download/eid/1-s2.0-S0889854518300627/first-page-pdf">changes noticed</a> may not be associated with menopause (because people might not be aware of what to expect) or changes may be associated with a combination of factors such as stress, being busy or other health issues.</p> <h2>So, what is going on?</h2> <p>Through a feminist lens, menopause can be seen as a <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/354652248_The_volcano_within_a_study_of_women's_lived_experience_of_the_journey_through_natural_menopause">complex and diverse experience</a>, influenced by biological, psychological, social and cultural aspects of women’s lives.</p> <p>However, it is usually viewed from the biomedical perspective. This sees it as a biological event, marked by the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091302220300418">decline</a> in ovarian hormone levels leading to a reduction in reproductive function.</p> <p>The female reproductive system operates because of a finely tuned balance of hormones managed by the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6466056/#:%7E:text=The%20hypothalamic%2Dpituitary%2Dovarian%20(HPO)%20axis%20must%20be,priming%20the%20endometrium%20for%20implantation.">hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis</a>. International <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3340903/">experts</a> have developed a staging system for female reproductive ageing, with seven stages from “early reproductive” years to “late postmenopause”.</p> <p>However, female reproductive hormones do not just affect the reproductive system but <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091302220300418">other aspects</a> of the body’s function. These include the <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26007613/">neurological system</a>, which is linked to hot flushes and night sweats and disrupted sleep. Hormones may also affect the <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nrdp20154">heart and body’s blood circulation</a>, bone health and potentially the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091302220300418">immune system</a>.</p> <p>Menopausal hormone changes may <a href="https://www.thewomens.org.au/health-information/menopause-information/menopause-symptoms/">cause</a> hot flushes, night/cold sweats, mood swings, sleep disruption and tiredness, vaginal dryness.</p> <p>Medical confirmation of menopausal changes in women over 45 years is based on two biological indicators: vasomotor symptoms (those hot flushes and night sweats again) and an <a href="https://www.womenshealth.gov/menopause/early-or-premature-menopause#:%7E:text=Menopause%20that%20happens%20before%20age,to%20come%20earlier%20than%20usual.">irregular menstrual cycle</a>.</p> <p>In early perimenopause the changes to the menstrual cycle may be subtle. Women may not recognise early indicators, unless they keep a record and know what to watch for.</p> <h2>How long does it last?</h2> <p>The body demonstrates an amazing ability to change over a lifetime. In a similar way to adolescence where long-lasting changes occur, the outcome of menopause is also change.</p> <p>Research suggests it is difficult to give an exact time frame for how long menopausal changes occur – the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3085137/">average</a> is between four and eight years.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3085137/">Penn Ovarian Ageing Study</a> found 79% of the 259 participants experienced hot flushes starting before the age of 50, most commonly between 45 and 49 years of age.</p> <p>A later report on the same study found one third of women studied experienced <a href="https://womensmidlifehealthjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40695-016-0014-2">moderate to severe hot flushes</a> more than ten years after their periods had stopped. A <a href="https://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/Abstract/2017/03000/Cultural_issues_in_menopause__an_exploratory.11.aspx">2017 study</a> found a small number of women continued to experience hot flushes and other symptoms into their 70s.</p> <p>So overall, the research cannot offer a specific window for perimenopause, and menopause does not appear to mark the end of changes for everyone.</p> <h2>5 tips for uncertain times</h2> <p>Shifts and changes can be recognised early by developing knowledge, paying attention to changes to our bodies and talking about menopause and perimenopause more openly.</p> <p>Here are five tips for moving from uncertainty to certainty:</p> <p><strong>1.</strong> talk to people and find out as much information as you can. The experiences of mothers and sisters may help, for some women there are familial similarities</p> <p><strong>2.</strong> notice any changes to your body and make a note of them, this will help you recognise changes earlier. There are <a href="https://www.redonline.co.uk/wellbeing/a36980118/menopause-apps/">menopause tracking apps</a> available</p> <p><strong>3.</strong> keep a note of your menstrual cycle: start date, duration, flow and note any changes. Again, an app might help</p> <p><strong>4.</strong> if you are worried, seek advice from a GP or nurse that specialises in women’s health. They may suggest ways to help with symptoms or refer to a specialist</p> <p><strong>5.</strong> remember changes are the indicator to pay attention to, not time or your age.</p> <p>Menopause is a natural process and although we have focused here on the time frame and “symptoms”, it can also be a time of freedom (particularly from periods!), reflection and a time to focus on yourself.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/195211/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/lhosPUwWhfI?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Women speak about their experiences of menopause.</span></figcaption></figure> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/yvonne-middlewick-1395795">Yvonne Middlewick</a>, Nurse &amp; Lecturer, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-long-does-menopause-last-5-tips-for-navigating-uncertain-times-195211">original article</a>.</em></p>

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World's most powerful women come together to mark the end of an era

<p>A group of the most powerful and influential women in the worlds of fashion and entertainment have joined forces to appear on a legendary cover of <em>British Vogue</em>. </p> <p>The iconic cover shoot occurred to celebrate the magazine's editor Edward Enninful, who is stepping back from the role after six years at the helm. </p> <p>Enninful gathered his muses for the history-making "Legendary" edition, featuring the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda, Selma Blair, Salma Hayek, Victoria Beckham, Miley Cyrus, Dua Lipa, and many more. </p> <p>"To get one of these women on a cover takes months. To get 40? Unheard of," Cyrus remarked in an on-set video.</p> <p>In a post to social media, Selma Blair remarked that she "didn't want the day to end". </p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/reel/C3FtXApL8_O/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/reel/C3FtXApL8_O/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by British Vogue (@britishvogue)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>The shoot also included models Kate Moss, Cara Delevingne, Karlie Kloss, alongside the original '90s supermodels – Naomi Campbell, Iman, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington and Cindy Crawford.</p> <p>Evangelista said of the iconic shoot, "I've met so many people today on my bucket list".</p> <p>Hayek also posted about the experience on Instagram, saying, "So honoured to be part of this legendary cover of British Vogue and Edward Enninful's muses, especially because they are my muses too!" </p> <p>Jane Fonda summed up the energy of the day on set, saying, "Women understand the importance and power of the collective."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Instagram </em></p> <p> </p>

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Pickle, anyone? 3 possible reasons women get cravings during pregnancy

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lauren-ball-14718">Lauren Ball</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/katelyn-barnes-1238606">Katelyn Barnes</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p>From pickles and french fries to oranges and ice cream, women and other people who are pregnant report craving a range of foods while they’re expecting.</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00021/full">food craving</a> is a strong urge to eat a specific food. The intense desire to eat is not necessarily related to hunger and can be difficult to ignore or resist. Think: “I must have this now!”.</p> <p>Food cravings during pregnancy are common, with studies reporting anywhere between <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4172095/">50% and 90%</a> of pregnant women experience a food craving at least once during their pregnancy. Most women who experience food cravings will do so in their second trimester (from week 13 to 27), and the cravings may also be <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4172095/">most intense</a> at this time.</p> <p>Let’s delve into the science of food cravings and what it means for the health of mum and bub.</p> <h2>What are some typical cravings, and why do they happen?</h2> <p>There’s an old wives’ tale which implies food cravings can predict the sex of the baby, with sweet foods being associated with a girl, and savoury foods indicating a boy.</p> <p>This isn’t backed by science. In reality, food cravings during pregnancy are highly individual, though they <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4172095/">typically include</a> carbohydrate-dense and protein-dense foods. Commonly reported cravings include biscuits, bananas, nuts, pickles, ice cream and potatoes.</p> <p>We don’t know exactly why pregnant women experience food cravings, but there are a few possible reasons.</p> <p><strong>1. Changes in nutritional needs</strong></p> <p>Growing a baby takes a lot of work, and unsurprisingly, increases womens’ requirements for energy and specific nutrients such as iron, folic acid, magnesium and calcium. In addition, a woman’s blood volume <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4928162/#:%7E:text=Maternal%20blood%20volume%20increases%20by,falls%20by%2010%20mosmol%2Fkg.">increases significantly during pregnancy</a>, meaning a greater demand for water and electrolytes (in particular sodium and potassium).</p> <p>Some studies suggest women experiencing nutrient deficiencies are <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0276079">more likely</a> to have food cravings. This might mean women crave foods high in energy and specific nutrients based on their needs.</p> <p>However, this link is <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5054961/">not consistently seen</a>, and many women experience food cravings without being deficient in any nutrients.</p> <p><strong>2. Changes in hunger and taste</strong></p> <p>Hormonal changes that occur throughout pregnancy may change how hungry women feel. A specific hormone called neuropeptide Y has been <a href="https://doi.org/10.1006/appe.1996.0060">shown</a> to increase during pregnancy and is associated with increased hunger.</p> <p>Also, many women report foods and drinks taste different during pregnancy. Most commonly, women <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4172095/">report</a> an increased taste of bitter flavours such as those in vegetables or coffee, and a heightened sense of sweetness from fruits.</p> <p>Changes in how foods taste combined with increased feelings of hunger may create food cravings, particularly for sweet foods such as fruits. However, studies have not been able to consistently link hormone levels in blood with reported taste changes, suggesting hormones may not be solely responsible for food cravings.</p> <p><strong>3. Social and cultural influences</strong></p> <p>Pregnant women in different parts of the world report different food cravings. For example, the most commonly reported food cravings among pregnant women in Nigeria is <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4172095/#B113">fruits and vegetables</a>. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4172095/#B83">Rice</a> is the most common craving among all women in Japan, while in the United States, women seem to crave <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16831486/">chocolate</a> the most. These differences may be due to what foods are available, and what foods are familiar.</p> <p>Popular commentary around pregnancy food cravings, and even the notion of “eating for two”, imply a biological need for pregnant women to indulge their food cravings. These sentiments make eating different, strange, or large amounts of food more socially acceptable.</p> <p>Also, food cravings may normalise eating foods which may be less healthy, such as chocolates or cake. Normalising a food choice that may usually be considered a special treat can then <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4172095/#B76">lead to increased urges</a> for and consumption of those foods during pregnancy.</p> <p>Some women can struggle with food cravings they know are not healthy, but cannot resist. This can <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4172095/">lead to</a> shame and negative relationships with food during pregnancy.</p> <h2>Cravings aren’t a big cause for concern</h2> <p>People may think food cravings lead to excess weight gain in pregnancy, which can be related to poor health outcomes for mothers. But studies to date have shown that while women who experience food cravings in pregnancy have a slightly higher energy intake than those who don’t, there’s <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4172095/#B167">no consistent link</a> between food cravings and diet quality, changes in body weight or size, or development of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5054961/">pregnancy complications</a> such as gestational diabetes.</p> <p>Some people have also suspected food cravings in pregnancy might influence the baby while it’s growing. However, studies haven’t found <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1658361218301070">a link</a> between the mother’s food cravings during pregnancy, the size of baby at birth, the baby’s taste preferences, or behaviours of developing children.</p> <p>Overall, it seems food cravings have little to modest impact on the health of mothers or their babies.</p> <h2>When to seek help</h2> <p>While all women should feel comfortable to eat foods they desire, moderation is still key. Resolving sweet food cravings with nutritious options such as fruits, dairy and wholegrains may be beneficial, as well as limiting less healthy cravings such as chocolates, lollies and chips.</p> <p>Particular cravings, such soil or ice, can <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4635104/">indicate</a> underlying health conditions that warrant treatment.</p> <p>If you or a loved one is concerned about food cravings or any aspect of food intake during pregnancy, make an appointment with an <a href="https://member.dietitiansaustralia.org.au/Portal/Portal/Search-Directories/Find-a-Dietitian.aspx">accredited dietitian</a>.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/221755/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lauren-ball-14718"><em>Lauren Ball</em></a><em>, Professor of Community Health and Wellbeing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/katelyn-barnes-1238606">Katelyn Barnes</a>, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/pickle-anyone-3-possible-reasons-women-get-cravings-during-pregnancy-221755">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Vale ‘sister suffragette’: how Glynis Johns became a pop-culture icon in the story of votes for women

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ana-stevenson-196768">Ana Stevenson</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-southern-queensland-1069">University of Southern Queensland</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lindsay-helwig-1500979">Lindsay Helwig</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-southern-queensland-1069">University of Southern Queensland</a></em></p> <p>Glynis Johns, most famous for her role as the suffragette mother Mrs Winifred Banks in Disney’s Mary Poppins (1964), passed away last week at the age of 100.</p> <p>A fourth-generation performer who made her <a href="https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1991-04-17-ca-126-story.html">stage debut</a> in London when she was only three weeks old, Johns inherited her Welsh father’s love of acting. She appeared with him in The Halfway House (1944) and The Sundowners (1960) and argued for the establishment of a Welsh National Theatre <a href="https://twitter.com/huwthomas/status/791367871242862592">as early as 1971</a>.</p> <p>Johns’s career spanned eight decades in Hollywood, Broadway and the British stage and screen. As Palm Springs’s Desert Sun <a href="https://cdnc.ucr.edu/?a=d&amp;d=DS19630426.2.50">reported</a> in 1962, her “husky voice and big blue eyes” were her hallmarks. But it was her portrayal of Mrs Banks in Mary Poppins which would make her a pop culture icon.</p> <h2>A childhood inspiration</h2> <p>Feminist activists and scholars often describe the Mrs Banks character as a childhood inspiration.</p> <p>As feminist communications scholar Amanda Firestone <a href="https://www.google.com.au/books/edition/Resist_and_Persist/s5HiDwAAQBAJ">reflects</a> on the film: "I especially loved […] Mrs Banks (Glynis Johns), who marches around the family home, putting Votes for Women sashes onto the housekeeper, cook, and the (departing) nanny. Of course, as a kid, I had no idea that the people and events embedded in the song’s lyrics were actual parts of history, but I did find a kind of joy in a vague notion of women’s empowerment."</p> <p>Set in 1910, the symbolism associated with Mrs Banks references the history of the British suffragettes. Johns’ musical showstopper, Sister Suffragette, directly refers to <a href="https://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/articles/the-pankhursts-politics-protest-and-passion/">Emmeline Pankhurst</a>, who founded the militant Women’s Social and Political Union in 1903. In 1906 British newspapers <a href="https://doi.org/10.1017/S0020859007003239">coined</a> the moniker “suffragette” to mock the union.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/K0SDECwO54E?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>This ambivalence continued into the 1960s. Historian Laura E. Nym Mayhall <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/4316653">argues</a> that American concern over the impact of women’s public roles on their domestic responsibilities influenced the film’s depiction of Mrs Banks, especially her movement from a public suffragette back into an involved mother at the film’s end.</p> <p>For Mayhall, the figure of the suffragette emerges in popular culture as “a symbol of modernity”: a harbinger of democracy and political progress whose characterisation would elide ongoing struggles such as the civil rights movement.</p> <figure class="align-right zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/568335/original/file-20240108-23-tf6kwm.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/568335/original/file-20240108-23-tf6kwm.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/568335/original/file-20240108-23-tf6kwm.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=949&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/568335/original/file-20240108-23-tf6kwm.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=949&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/568335/original/file-20240108-23-tf6kwm.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=949&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/568335/original/file-20240108-23-tf6kwm.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=1193&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/568335/original/file-20240108-23-tf6kwm.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=1193&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/568335/original/file-20240108-23-tf6kwm.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=1193&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">This 1909 Dunston Weiler Lithograph Co. anti-suffrage postcard offers resonances of Mrs Banks and her household staff in Mary Poppins.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://thesuffragepostcardproject.omeka.net/items/show/44">Catherine H. Palczewski Postcard Archive/The Suffrage Postcard Project</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>While some see the character of the suffragette mother as <a href="https://www.google.com.au/books/edition/Mary_Poppins/BLujEAAAQBAJ">supporting</a> women’s votes during the 1910s and women’s liberation during the 1960s, other readings of the film suggest a more satirical representation of the suffrage movement. Some historians even find <a href="https://doi.org/10.1215/02705346-6923118">resonances</a> of anti-suffrage propaganda in Mrs Banks, including in her usage of her Votes for Women sash as the tail of a kite in the film’s final scene.</p> <p>Looking back at film reviews offers insight into how audiences received this character – and, by extension, Johns as an actor. American studies scholar Lori Kenschaft <a href="https://books.google.com.au/books/about/Girls_Boys_Books_Toys.html?id=Or13vhnA_W4C">suggests</a> that film critics who saw Mrs Banks as a “nutty suffragette mother” reiterated popular stereotypes about suffragettes and feminists being “mentally unbalanced”.</p> <p>Such stereotypes may have been reinforced by the film’s depiction of motherhood and the nuclear family. Involved parenting emerged as the bedrock of the 1960s nuclear family, an idea both supported and actively promoted by Walt Disney in both his films and his theme parks, as <a href="https://www.google.com.au/books/edition/Children_Childhood_and_Musical_Theater/XHrRDwAAQBAJ">argued</a> by American musicologist William A. Everett.</p> <p>As Mrs Banks, Johns embodied the transition from the distant, uninvolved parenting of the British middle-class in the earlier 20th century to the involved mother who facilitated the stable nuclear family. As women’s studies scholar Anne McLeer <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/4316893">argues</a>, Mary Poppins, through Johns’ portrayal of Mrs Banks, demonstrated the liberated woman of the 1960s could be contained within the nuclear family: the bedrock for a Western capitalist economy.</p> <h2>A long career</h2> <p>Beyond Mary Poppins, her most prominent role was in Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway musical A Little Night Music (1973).</p> <p>Johns originated the character of ageing actress Desiree Armfeldt, becoming the first to sing Send in the Clowns. As she <a href="https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1991-04-17-ca-126-story.html">reflected</a> of the classic in 1991: "It’s still part of me. And when you’ve got a song like Send in the Clowns, it’s timeless."</p> <p>Sondheim composed this song with Johns’s famously husky voice in mind. Yet some were less enamoured with her performance. One 1973 theatre critic <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/3850619">described</a> Johns as “a now somewhat overage tomboy, kittenish and raspy-voiced, precise and amusing in her delivery of lines but utterly, utterly unseductive.”</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/OAl-EawVobY?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>A veteran of stage and screen, Johns appeared in more than 60 films and 30 plays. In 1998, she was honoured with a Disney Legends Award for her role as Mrs Banks. Johns also received critical acclaim throughout her career, including a Laurel Award for Mary Poppins and a Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for A Little Night Music.</p> <p>Regardless of how incongruous her status as a “<a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-01-05/glynis-johns-mary-poppins-send-in-the-clowns/103287036">Disney feminist icon</a>” may be, Johns’s extraordinary influence upon the 20th century’s cultural memory is a remarkable legacy. <!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/220766/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ana-stevenson-196768"><em>Ana Stevenson</em></a><em>, Senior Lecturer, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-southern-queensland-1069">University of Southern Queensland</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lindsay-helwig-1500979">Lindsay Helwig</a>, Lecturer in Pathways, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-southern-queensland-1069">University of Southern Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Disney</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/vale-sister-suffragette-how-glynis-johns-became-a-pop-culture-icon-in-the-story-of-votes-for-women-220766">original article</a>.</em></p>

Caring

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Women forced to do shocking act for $100 rent reduction

<p>Two women in Queensland have claimed that they were forced to use a makeshift  "temporary shower" outdoors, while renovations are being carried out in the property's only bathroom. </p> <p>The pair, who were expecting a porta-loo style shower to use during the four-to-six weeks renovation, were horrified when they found out the makeshift shower was just a blue tarpaulin attached to the side of the house.</p> <p>Electrical cords and plumbing pipes can be spotted hanging down in front of the open cubicle, and has no curtain for privacy or a lock, raising questions for their privacy and safety. </p> <p>To make matters worse, the women revealed on Facebook that they initially tried negotiating for a rental discount of $200 per week during the renovations, but their landlord said "no way" offering only a $50 discount, "then $100 as final offer".</p> <p>Dr Chris Martin, Senior Research Fellow in the University of NSW's City Futures Research Centre, slammed the landlord for "a bunch of possible breaches". </p> <p>"There is a big question about whether the temporary arrangement meets the minimum standards that apply to rented premises in Queensland under the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act," he told <em>Yahoo News</em>. </p> <p>"Those minimum standards include that the bathroom and toilet facilities must provide privacy and that a premise must be weatherproof and structurally sound, and there's a standard about security," he added. </p> <p>He also claimed that "there's a bunch of possible breaches of the minimum standards of this temporary arrangement," as intruders could also potentially get in. </p> <p>The Senior Research Fellow also slammed the $100-a-week reduction in rent, calling it "grossly insufficient".</p> <p>"What a professional landlord who takes a bit of pride in themselves as a reputable housing provider would have done, is hire one of those portable bathrooms that come on a little trailer with a little heater and hook it up, and also do a rent reduction for the hassle of having to trot out to the trailer to shower," he said.</p> <p>"That would be the appropriate response."</p> <p>He encouraged the tenants to speak to Tenants Queensland or a local tenants advice service about what to do, adding that they could say that the current temporary arrangements could be deemed "unlivable or uninhabitable". </p> <p>"I suggest they should also be telling the landlord that this arrangement may place the landlord in a further breach of the agreement and for the liability for an even bigger rent reduction and the prospect of compensation if they don't do this better,"  Dr Martin told the publication. </p> <p><em>Images: Facebook</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Embracing friendships in adulthood: A guide to making meaningful connections

<p>Navigating the landscape of friendship in adulthood might initially appear daunting, but the profound impact that it can have on our mental well-being is huge. Not only do friendships foster a sense of camaraderie, but they nurture feelings of belonging and acceptance.</p> <p>Important at every life stage, it’s not uncommon to encounter challenges in building new friendships as we age and embark on differing paths. However, Jacqui Manning, Resident Psychologist at Connected Women, a female-driven organisation dedicated to cultivating friendships for women over 50, is here to impart her invaluable tips and tricks, paving the way for a friend-finding journey that unfolds with ease and fulfilment.</p> <p>“Forming new friendships in adulthood may take a little more time and effort, but it doesn’t have to be scary,” Jacqui explains. “Approaching the prospect of making a friend with genuine curiosity and a shared interest can transform the experience into an exciting journey rather than a daunting task. Focus on common ground, be open-minded, and embrace the adventure of getting to know someone new. By emphasising shared interests and creating a comfortable, judgment-free space, the process of making a friend becomes a welcoming exploration rather than an intimidating challenge."</p> <p><strong>Stay Open</strong> </p> <p>It can be a slippery slope once we let our thoughts spiral into the possibility of rejection. Instead of worrying, why not consider all the opportunities to grow a connection? </p> <p>Jacqui explains, “As we age, the energy we have to make friends can dwindle, making it natural to withdraw into the comfort of our own shell. However, the need for connection is as strong as ever. This serves as an important reminder to be open. Deeper connections won’t have the chance to form if we keep one another at arm’s length so engage in conversations about hobbies and discuss any goals or anxieties openly, as it is through this openness that a profound connection is likely to be forged.</p> <p><strong>Find Your Community </strong></p> <p>Finding a group of new friends could be as simple as enjoying your favourite pastime. Like attracts like, and finding a like-minded group who share similar interests could be the key to unlocking more meaningful relationships. </p> <p>“Whether it’s joining a book club, cooking class, yoga, or bonding over a game of cards, whatever your passion may be, start by kicking off a conversation with someone who participates in a shared activity. While exploring a new hobby is fantastic, consider turning your attention closer to home and connecting with those who already share your interests,” Jacqui adds. </p> <p><strong>Take Note</strong></p> <p>Long-lasting friendships can fill gaps in our life we never knew existed. </p> <p>As Jacqui explains, “Take note of how supported you currently feel and if there are any areas that may need a little nudge. Reflection will invariably help to narrow down the type of friendship you may be seeking and allow you to better understand your own needs. Through self-reflection, you gain invaluable insights that not only pinpoint the specific type of friendship you might be yearning for but also enhance your understanding of your own emotional requirements. This conscious exploration becomes a compass, guiding you toward the relationships that can truly fulfil and enrich your life.”</p> <p>The journey of making friendships in adulthood is not without its challenges, but the rewards are immeasurable. As Jacqui reminds us, being open to new connections, actively engaging in shared interests, and conducting self-reflection are key elements in fostering meaningful relationships. </p> <p>“The path to forming long-lasting bonds involves stepping out of our comfort zones, whether by joining a new group, pursuing shared activities, or simply initiating conversations. Remember, the richness of these connections lies not just in the joy of shared experiences but also in the support and understanding they provide,” Jacqui concludes,</p> <p>Friendships in adulthood are well worth investing in, providing fulfilment, support, and the delight of shared moments. So, embrace the adventure, take note of your needs, and savour the delight of building connections that truly enrich your life.</p> <p><em>Ready to try your hand at building new friendships? Visit <a href="https://www.connectedwomen.net" target="_blank" rel="noopener">connectedwomen.net </a></em></p> <p><em><strong>About Connected Women </strong></em></p> <p><em><strong>Jacqui Manning is the Resident Psychologist at Connected Women, bringing with her over two decades of experience. Founded in 2022, Connected Women facilitates friendships for women over 50 through a range of online and in-person events. With the rising epidemic of loneliness impacting Australians now more than ever, Connected Women aims to provide a community in which women can feel free to be themselves, connect with like-minded women and build life-long friendships. Launched in Perth, Western Australia, Connected Women now also operates in New South Wales and Victoria, with plans to grow its network to Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia in the coming year. </strong></em></p> <p><em><strong>With a small monthly membership fee, women can join Connected Women events, share, and connect over areas of interest, and connect with women in their local areas to arrange meet-ups. Whether members prefer big events with lots of action and adventure, or quiet meetups around the local neighbourhood, Connected Women is committed to providing a safe and inclusive space for women to find their feet and build new friendships in a space that feels most comfortable to them.</strong></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Relationships

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Women and low-income earners miss out in a superannuation system most Australians think is unfair

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/antonia-settle-1019551">Antonia Settle</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p>Most Australians think the superannuation system is unfair, with only one in three agreeing the retirement savings scheme is fair for most Australians, according to a survey conducted for the University of Melbourne.</p> <p>In fact, only about half of those <a href="https://melbourneinstitute.unimelb.edu.au/publications/research-insights/search/result?paper=4630688">surveyed</a> agreed superannuation works well for them.</p> <p>These results contradict a conventional view based on earlier studies and held by academics and many in the personal finance sector, that Australians give little thought to superannuation.</p> <p>A 2013 survey found Australians have <a href="https://search.informit.org/doi/abs/10.3316/INFORMIT.285049750322819">poor knowledge</a> of how the superannuation system works, while another study in 2022 highlighted <a href="https://melbourneinstitute.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/4382057/HILDA_Statistical_Report_2022.pdf">low financial literacy</a> in general.</p> <p>Australians also showed <a href="https://behaviouraleconomics.pmc.gov.au/sites/default/files/projects/retirement-planning-saving-attitudes_0_0.pdf">little interest in superannuation</a>, according to a 2020 Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet survey, with few Australians showing interest in reading their superannuation statements, choosing their fund or making voluntary contributions.</p> <p>With Australian households seen as uninformed and uninterested, their opinions tend to be left out of the public debate. We hear much about the gender pension gap, for example, but little about what women actually think about superannuation.</p> <p>Similarly, the distribution of tax advantage in superannuation is hotly debated by economists but survey data tends to refrain from asking households what they think about equity in the superannuation system.</p> <p>The University of Melbourne survey of 1,003 Australians was undertaken by Roy Morgan Research in April.</p> <p>Its results show women and low-income households are widely seen as disadvantaged in the superannuation system.</p> <p>In fact, only one in five Australians see the superannuation system as well suited to the needs of women and of low-income households, while 70% believe super favours wealthy households.</p> <p><iframe id="5VX3K" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/5VX3K/1/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>This suggests although Australians may show little interest in the management of their super accounts and may report they find the system confusing or even <a href="https://www.professionalplanner.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Attitudes-to-Super-Report-May-2016.pdf">boring</a>, they are surprisingly aware of how superannuation is distributed.</p> <h2>Women, singles and low-income earners miss out</h2> <p>The federal government’s 2020 <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/publication/p2020-100554">Retirement Income Review</a> documents these gaps. Renters, women, uncoupled households and those on low-incomes fare poorly in the retirement income system.</p> <p>With little super to supplement the public pension, these groups are vastly over-represented in elderly poverty statistics, which are among the <a href="https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/d76e4fad-en/index.html?itemId=/content/component/d76e4fad-en">highest in the OECD</a>.</p> <p>Mirroring the gaps in the superannuation system reported by the review, the University of Melbourne survey shows that it is outright homeowners and those who are married who believe the superannuation system works well.</p> <p>Concerns the system works poorly for women and low-income households are strongest among women and low-income households. Only one in three renters believe the superannuation system meets their needs.</p> <p><iframe id="N9GO6" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/N9GO6/1/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>This suggests individuals’ concerns about fairness in the superannuation system are driven by their own experiences of disadvantage, regardless of financial literacy.</p> <p>This is consistent with my own <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13563467.2023.2195159">research</a> into household attitudes to superannuation, which showed some resentment among women who were well aware their male partners had substantially higher superannuation balances than them.</p> <p>This all matters for policymakers.</p> <h2>Why public perceptions are important</h2> <p>In the short term, these results suggest public support for making super fairer is likely to be stronger than previously thought. Recent government changes to tax concessions on large balances, for example, could have gone much further without losing support from the 70% of households that think the system favours the wealthy.</p> <p>But it matters for the longer term too.</p> <p>Public perceptions of fairness, effectiveness and efficiency are crucial to policy sustainability. This is well established in the academic literature from <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/spol.12683">B Ebbinghaus</a>, 2021 and <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1911-3838.12171">H Chung et al.</a>, and accepted by the Retirement Income Review.</p> <p>The review assessed the public’s confidence in the system to both “deliver an adequate retirement income for them(selves) and (to) generate adequate outcomes across society”.</p> <p>As the review makes clear, the system must avoid a loss of public confidence from perceptions of unfairness.</p> <p>Yet perceptions of unfairness are exactly what the University of Melbourne results suggest. This would have been clearer to policymakers if they asked earlier.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/207633/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/antonia-settle-1019551">Antonia Settle</a>, Academic (McKenzie Postdoctoral Research Fellow), <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/women-and-low-income-earners-miss-out-in-a-superannuation-system-most-australians-think-is-unfair-207633">original article</a>.</em></p>

Retirement Income

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The transformative power of effective communication

<p>Effective communication can be hard and it’s not something that can come easily to us. Yet it's an important tool to invest in as it can have a profound impact on relationship healing, self-discovery and navigating life’s challenges. While the significance of good communication resonates at any stage in life, its value becomes even more pronounced as we age, emerging as an increasingly invaluable tool for fostering understanding, connection, and resilience in both our romantic, and platonic relationships.</p> <p>Jacqui Manning is a Resident Psychologist at Connected Women, an organisation that facilitates friendships for women over 50 through a range of online and in-person events. Here, Jacqui shares how effective communication can elevate and enrich your life across various scenarios and shares her top tips on how to become a more effective communicator. </p> <p>“It’s crucial for us at any stage in life to pause, reflect and make an investment in refining our communication skills, as it’s important to recognise the pivotal role it plays in personal growth and meaningful connections,” explains Jacqui. “While we navigate the complexities of life, effective communication becomes crucial for elevating every interaction, good or bad. Now is the opportune moment to seize the power that effective communication can have and implement it into a multitude of scenarios and day-to-day interactions.” </p> <p><strong>Fixing Broken Friendships</strong></p> <p>Let's talk about something many of us have experienced – the breakdown of a friendship. It’s a universal encounter that resonates with many. Whether you take divergent paths, differ in your evolving priorities or due to unforeseen conflicts, the unravelling of a friendship can be a poignant and challenging chapter in women’s lives. Yet, it is precisely within these moments of fracture that the potential for growth, resilience and renewal emerges.</p> <p>“Effective communication serves as the mender of the fractures within a broken relationship. When nurtured with openness, honesty and empathy, communication allows individuals to express their feelings, share perspectives and understand each other’s needs,” explains Jacqui.</p> <p>“This positive communication fosters a sense of mutual respect, enabling individuals to rebuild trust and create a foundation for a healthier, more resilient friendship. It’s the key to unlocking understanding, finding common ground, and revitalising the emotional bonds that may have been strained. In essence, the power of effective communication lies in its ability to reconcile differences and pave the way for a renewed and strengthened connection.”</p> <p><strong>Navigating Life's Challenges</strong></p> <p>Effective communication isn't just a solution for broken friendships; it's also a compass for when life gets tough. </p> <p>According to Jacqui, when facing obstacles, the act of vocalising your concerns or feelings to a friend or partner can be a transformative experience. “Verbalising your thoughts and feelings not only clarifies your own understanding but also allows those close to you to provide valuable perspective and insights. Sharing your problems takes the weight off your shoulders and offers a sense of relief.” </p> <p>Jacqui continues “In the act of confiding, you not only release the emotional burden but also open the door to shared solutions and a mutual journey towards growth and resilience. It transforms a solitary struggle into a collaborative effort, strengthening the bonds that tie individuals together. Effective communication therefore becomes a powerful tool for not only navigating life’s trails but also for fostering resilience, deepening connections, and finding solace.”</p> <p><strong>Embracing Your True Self</strong></p> <p>In the middle stage of life, many women grapple with questions about who they really are and what they want. </p> <p>Jacqui suggests that effective communication can serve as a powerful tool for self-discovery and acceptance, paving the way to embracing one’s true self. She explains, “When we articulate our thoughts, feelings and aspirations, whether through self-reflection or sharing with others, it brings our authentic identity to the forefront. </p> <p>“In conversations where we openly communicate our values and beliefs, we not only strengthen our understanding of who we are but also create spaces for acceptance and validation. In this process, we find liberation and empowerment and connectedness, as our true self is celebrated and allowed to flourish,” she said.</p> <p>So, how can you become a more effective communicator? Jacqui recommends the following five tips:</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Empower with Language</em></span>: Be mindful of your words, choosing language that uplifts and encourages rather than criticises or blames. Language is a powerful tool; use it to empower those around you.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Clear Expression</em></span>: Clearly articulate your feelings and emotions, avoiding assumptions and accusations. Use “I” statements to express your perspective without placing blame, fostering open communication.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Empathy</em></span>: Try to understand how others feel by putting yourself in their shoes and allowing space for others to express themselves fully, resisting the urge to rush to conclusions or judgment or tell a story to explain.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Vulnerability</em></span>: Embrace vulnerability as a source of strength. Don’t be afraid to share your authentic self, including fears, concerns, and challenges, to build trust and strengthen connections with others.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Solution Focussed Dialogue</em></span>: Approach conversations with a focus on finding solutions rather than dwelling on problems. This forward-thinking mindset contributes to a more positive and constructive discourse.</p> <p>Effective communication isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. It's a journey of self-discovery and connection. It has the potential to mend bonds, guide you through life's challenges, and empower you to be your true self. We need to remember to take a step back, re-evaluate our communication and identify areas for improvement. </p> <p><em><strong>For more information visit <a href="https://www.connectedwomen.net" target="_blank" rel="noopener">connectedwomen.net </a></strong></em></p> <p><em><strong>About Connected Women </strong></em></p> <p><em>Jacqui Manning is the resident psychologist at Connected Women, bringing with her over two decades of experience. Founded in 2022, Connected Women facilitates friendships for women over 50 through a range of online and in-person events. With the rising epidemic of loneliness impacting Australians now more than ever - Connected Women aims to provide a community in which women can feel free to be themselves, connect with like-minded women and build life-long friendships. </em></p> <p><em>Launched in Perth, Western Australia, Connected Women now also operates in NSW and Victoria, with plans to grow its network to QLD, ACT and SA in the coming year. With a small monthly membership fee, women can join Connected Women events, share and connect over areas of interest, and connect with women in their local areas to arrange meet ups. Whether members prefer big events with lots of action and adventure, or quiet meet ups and walks around the local neighbourhood, Connected Women is committed to providing a safe and inclusive space for women to find their feet and build new friendships in a space that feels most comfortable to them. </em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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Lots of women try herbs like black cohosh for menopausal symptoms like hot flushes – but does it work?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sasha-taylor-1461085">Sasha Taylor</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/susan-davis-10376">Susan Davis</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a></em></p> <p>Menopause is the stage of life where the ovaries stop releasing eggs and menstrual periods cease. Most Australian women go through menopause between <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nrdp20154">45 and 55</a> years of age, with the average age being 51 years, although some women may be younger.</p> <p>Hot flushes and night sweats are <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nrendo.2017.180">typical symptoms</a> of menopause, with vaginal dryness, muscle and joint pains, mood changes and sleep disturbance also commonly reported. Up to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25706184/">75% of women</a> experience menopausal symptoms, with nearly 30% severely affected.</p> <p>These symptoms can negatively impact day-to-day life and wellbeing. The main therapies available include menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) and non-hormonal prescription therapy. Some women will elect to try complementary and alternative medicines, such as herbal medicines and nutritional supplements. Black cohosh is one of them.</p> <h2>What causes hot flushes</h2> <p>The cause of hormonal hot flushes (also called hot flashes) still isn’t completely understood, but the decline in oestrogen at menopause appears to play a role in a process that involves the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3833827/">area of the brain that regulates temperature</a> (the hypothalamus).</p> <p>Factors linked to a greater likelihood of hot flushes include <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19675142/">being overweight or having obesity</a> and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25706184/">smoking</a>.</p> <p>MHT, previously known as hormone replacement therapy (HRT), usually includes oestrogen and is the <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26444994/">most effective treatment</a> for menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes. But women may choose complementary and alternative medicines instead – either because they shouldn’t take hormone therapy, for example because they have breast cancer, or because of personal preference.</p> <p>Close <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26224187/">to 40%</a> of Australian women report using complementary and alternative medicines for menopausal symptoms, and up to 20% using them specifically to treat hot flushes and sweats.</p> <h2>A long history</h2> <p>Complementary and alternative medicines have a long history of use in many cultures. Today, their potential benefits for menopausal symptoms are promoted by the companies that make and sell them.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6419242/">complementary and alternative medicines</a> women often try for menopausal symptoms include phytoestrogens, wild yam, dong quai, ginseng and black cohosh.</p> <p>Black cohosh (plant name <em>Cimicifuga racemosa</em>) was <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6599854/">traditionally</a> used by Native Americans to treat a variety of health concerns such as sore throat, kidney trouble, musculoskeletal pain and menstrual problems. It is now a popular herbal choice for hot flushes and night sweats, as well as vaginal dryness and mood changes.</p> <p>There are <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37252752/">many theories</a> for how the active ingredients in black cohosh might work in the body, such as acting like oestrogen, or affecting chemical pathways in the brain. But despite extensive research, the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6599854/">evidence to support these theories remains inconclusive</a>.</p> <p>It is also not clear whether black cohosh is effective for hot flushes. Results from individual studies are mixed, with <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17565936/">some</a> finding black cohosh improves hot flushes, while <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18257142/">others</a> have found it doesn’t.</p> <p>A 2012 <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6599854/">review</a> combined all the results from studies of menopausal women using black cohosh to that date and found overall there was no proof black cohosh reduces hot flushes more effectively than an inactive treatment (placebo). <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6599854/">This review</a> also revealed that many studies did not use rigorous research methods, so the findings are hard to interpret.</p> <p>A more recent <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33021111/">review</a> of clinical trials claimed black cohosh may ease menopausal symptoms, but the included studies were mostly small, less than six months long, and included women with mild symptoms.</p> <p>There is also no meaningful evidence black cohosh helps other symptoms of menopause, such as vaginal symptoms, sexual problems, or poor general wellbeing, or that it protects against bone loss.</p> <p>Evidence for how black cohosh is absorbed and metabolised by the body is also lacking, and it is not known what dose or formulation is best to use.</p> <p>More good quality studies are needed to decide whether black cohosh works for hot flushes and other menopausal symptoms.</p> <h2>Is it safe to try?</h2> <p>A <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33021111/">review of studies</a> suggests black cohosh is safe to use, although many of the studies have not reported possible adverse reactions in detail. Side effects such as gastrointestinal upset and rashes may occur.</p> <p>While there have been <a href="https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2008/188/7/liver-failure-associated-use-black-cohosh-menopausal-symptoms#0_i1091948">rare reports of liver damage</a>, there is <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21228727/">no clear evidence</a> black cohosh was the cause. Even so, in Australia, black cohosh manufacturers and suppliers are required to put a warning label for the potential of harm to the liver on their products.</p> <p>It is recommended black cohosh is not used by women with menopausal symptoms <a href="https://www.canceraustralia.gov.au/cancer-types/breast-cancer/impacted-by-breast-cancer/physical-changes/menopause/treatments-menopausal-symptoms">after breast cancer</a>, as its safety after breast cancer is uncertain. All women should consult with their doctor before using black cohosh if they are taking other medications in case of possible drug interactions.</p> <p>Many women like to try herbal therapies for hot flushes and other menopausal symptoms. While black cohosh is generally considered safe and some women may find it helps them, at the moment there is not enough scientific evidence to show its effects are any better than placebo.</p> <p>Women experiencing troublesome menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes, should talk to their doctor about the best treatment options for them.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/211272/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sasha-taylor-1461085"><em>Sasha Taylor</em></a><em>, Research fellow, Chronic Disease &amp; Ageing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/susan-davis-10376">Susan Davis</a>, Chair of Women's Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty </em><em>Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/lots-of-women-try-herbs-like-black-cohosh-for-menopausal-symptoms-like-hot-flushes-but-does-it-work-211272">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Women's football star dies at 27

<p>Sheffield United star Maddy Cusack has passed away at the age of 27. </p> <p>The club broke the news about the sudden death of the midfielder, but did not disclose any information about her cause of death. </p> <p>“Sheffield United Football Club is devastated to report the sad news of the passing of Maddy Cusack," the club said in a statement. </p> <p>“Maddy, a women’s team player since 2019 and marketing executive for the football club, passed away on Wednesday."</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Sheffield United Football Club is devastated to report the sad news of the passing of Maddy Cusack.</p> <p>The Club and Maddy’s family would appreciate a period of privacy and will not comment further at this sad time.</p> <p>— Sheffield United (@SheffieldUnited) <a href="https://twitter.com/SheffieldUnited/status/1704889740636336480?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 21, 2023</a></p></blockquote> <p>“This is heartbreaking news for everyone at Bramall Lane," chief executive Stephen Bettis said.</p> <p>“Maddy had a unique position of being part of a number of teams at Sheffield United and was popular with everyone that she came into contact with."</p> <p>“Her personality and professionalism made her a credit to her family — she will be sadly missed."</p> <p>Cusack, a former England youth international player, signed a contract extension with the club in July.</p> <p>She was named as United's vice-captain last month and had just started her sixth season with the team in the second-tier Women’s Championship, making her the longest-serving player in the current squad.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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Women's fitness group praised for stopping man from allegedly drowning his son

<p>In a heart-pounding moment of courage and quick thinking, a group of women in an outdoor fitness class have rescued a 5-year-old boy after his father allegedly tried to drown him. </p> <p>The alleged incident occurred at the Dampier foreshore, in the remote region of Pilbara Western Australia. </p> <p>Police allege that the 26-year-old man drove his four-wheel drive into the ocean, before repeatedly forcing the child's head under water. </p> <p>The group of women intervened and helped save the child, with one believed to have punched the man several times, injuring her hand in the process according to the<em> Sydney Morning Herald</em>.</p> <p>WA Police have praised the “bravery” of the community members, who allegedly hit the man until he released the child. </p> <p>“Without their involvement, their courage and their bravery to get involved, it could have ended a lot worse,” WA Police spokesman told <em>ABC Pilbara</em>.</p> <p>“They responded without hesitation and contacted the police.”</p> <p>Emergency services were called to the foreshore around 6am on Monday, with the man arrested shortly after. </p> <p>The five-year-old child was taken to the hospital for assessment but is believed to be uninjured. </p> <p><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">The 26-year-old man from Nickol </span>has since been charged with a number of offences, including attempting unlawfully to kill,  two counts of assault with intent to commission a crime, reckless driving and one account of no authority to drive (never held). </p> <p>He was refused bail and will appear in Karratha Magistrate’s Court at a later date. </p> <p><em>Image: news.com.au</em></p>

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How biological differences between men and women alter immune responses – and affect women’s health

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/helen-mcgettrick-1451122">Helen McGettrick</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-birmingham-1138">University of Birmingham</a></em> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/asif-iqbal-1451123">Asif Iqbal</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-birmingham-1138">University of Birmingham</a></em></p> <p>Most people will have heard the term “man flu”, which refers to men’s perceived tendency to exaggerate the severity of a cold or a similar minor ailment.</p> <p>What most people may not know is that, generally speaking, women mount stronger <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36121220/">immune responses</a> to infections than men. Men are <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plospathogens/article?id=10.1371/journal.ppat.1005374">more susceptible</a> to infections from, for example, HIV, hepatitis B, and <em>Plasmodium falciparum</em> (the parasite responsible for malaria).</p> <p>They can also have more severe symptoms, with evidence showing they’re more likely to be <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plospathogens/article?id=10.1371/journal.ppat.1005374">admitted to hospital</a> when infected with hepatitis B, tuberculosis, and <em>Campylobacter jejuni</em> (a bacteria that causes gastroenteritis), among others.</p> <p>While this may be positive for women in some respects, it also means women are at <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nri2815">greater risk</a> of developing chronic diseases driven by the immune system, known as immune-mediated inflammatory diseases.</p> <p>Here we will explore how biological factors influence immune differences between the sexes and how this affects women’s health. While we acknowledge that both sex and gender may affect immune responses, this article will focus on biological sex rather than gender.</p> <h2>Battle of the sexes</h2> <p>There are differences <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nri.2016.90">between the sexes</a> at every stage of the immune response, from the number of immune cells, to their degree of activation (how ready they are to respond to a challenge), and beyond.</p> <p>However, the story is more complicated than that. Our immune system evolves throughout our lives, learning from past experiences, but also responding to the physiological challenges of getting older. As a result, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nri.2016.90">sex differences</a> in the immune system can be seen from birth through puberty into adulthood and <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jleukbio/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jleuko/qiad053/7190870">old age</a>.</p> <p>Why do these differences occur? The first part of answering this question involves the X chromosome. Females have two X chromosomes, while males have one X and one Y chromosome. The <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20651746/">X chromosome</a> contains the largest number of immune-related genes.</p> <p>The X chromosome also has <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00018-020-03526-7">around 118 genes</a> from a gene family that are able to stop the expression of other genes, or change how proteins are made, including those required for immunity. These gene-protein regulators are known as microRNA, and there are only <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24808907/">two microRNA genes</a> on the Y chromosome.</p> <p>The X chromosome has <a href="https://www.genome.gov/about-genomics/fact-sheets/X-Chromosome-facts">more genes overall</a> (around 900) than the Y chromosome (around 55), so female cells have evolved to switch off one of their X chromosomes. This is not like turning off a light switch, but more like using a dimmer.</p> <p>Around <a href="https://bmcgenomics.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12864-019-5507-6">15-25% of genes</a> on the silenced X chromosome are expressed at any given moment in any given cell. This means female cells can often express more immune-related genes and gene-protein regulators than males. This generally means a faster clearance of pathogens in females than males.</p> <p>Second, men and women have <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2020.604000/full">varying levels</a> of different sex hormones. Progesterone and testosterone are broadly considered to limit immune responses. While both hormones are produced by males and females, progesterone is found at higher concentrations in non-menopausal women than men, and testosterone is much higher in men than women.</p> <p>The role of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6533072/">oestrogen</a>, one of the main female sex hormones, is more complicated. Although generally oestrogen <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S000887491500026X?via%3Dihub">enhances immune responses</a>, its levels vary during the menstrual cycle, are high in pregnancy and low after menopause.</p> <p>Due in part to these genetic and hormonal factors, pregnancy and the years following are associated with heightened immune responses to external challenges such as infection.</p> <p>This has been regarded as an <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nri.2016.90">evolutionary feature</a>, protecting women and their unborn children during pregnancy and enhancing the mother’s survival throughout the child-rearing years, ultimately ensuring the survival of the population. We also see this pattern in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2628977/">other species</a> including insects, lizards, birds and mammals.</p> <h2>What does this all mean?</h2> <p>With women’s heightened immune responses to infections comes an increased risk of certain diseases and prolonged immune responses after infections.</p> <p>An <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3328995/">estimated 75-80%</a> of all immune-mediated inflammatory diseases <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32542149/">occur in females</a>. Diseases more common in women include multiple sclerosis, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nri2815">rheumatoid arthritis</a>, lupus, Sjogren’s syndrome, and <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nri.2016.90">thyroid disorders</a> such as Graves disease.</p> <p>In these diseases, the immune system is continuously fighting against what it sees as a foreign agent. However, often this perceived threat is not a foreign agent, but cells or tissues from the host. This leads to tissue damage, pain and immobility.</p> <p>Women are also prone to chronic inflammation following infection. For example, after infections with <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5818468/">Epstein Barr virus</a> or <a href="https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/jwh.2008.1193">Lyme disease</a>, they may go on to develop <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chronic-fatigue-syndrome-cfs/">chronic fatigue syndrome</a>, another condition that affects more women than men.</p> <p>This is one possible explanation for the heightened risk among <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fresc.2023.1122673/full">pre-menopausal women</a> of developing long COVID following infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID.</p> <p>Research has also revealed the presence of auto-antibodies (antibodies that attack the host) in patients with long COVID, suggesting it might be an <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1568997221000550">autoimmune disease</a>. As women are more susceptible to autoimmune conditions, this could potentially explain the sex bias seen.</p> <p>However, the exact causes of long COVID, and the reason women may be at greater risk, are yet to be defined.</p> <p>This paints a bleak picture, but it’s not all bad news. Women typically mount <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24966191/">better vaccine responses</a> to several common infections (for example, influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis A and B), producing higher antibody levels than men.</p> <p>One study showed that women vaccinated with half a dose of flu vaccine produced the same amount of antibodies compared to men vaccinated with <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/773453">a full dose</a>.</p> <p>However, these responses <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nri.2016.90">decline as women age</a>, and particularly <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3954964/">after menopause</a>.</p> <p>All of this shows it’s vital to consider sex when designing studies examining the immune system and treating patients with immune-related diseases.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/208802/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/helen-mcgettrick-1451122">Helen McGettrick</a>, Reader in Inflammation and Vascular Biology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-birmingham-1138">University of Birmingham</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/asif-iqbal-1451123">Asif Iqbal</a>, Associate Professor in Inflammation Biology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-birmingham-1138">University of Birmingham</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-biological-differences-between-men-and-women-alter-immune-responses-and-affect-womens-health-208802">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Tragedy strikes Spain's Women's World Cup star

<p>Spanish Women’s World Cup star Olga Carmona was hit with some devastating news shortly after their win against England</p> <p>The 23-year-old defender was informed that her father had passed away shortly after the final whistle and victory celebration according to the Spanish football federation (RFEF).</p> <p>“The RFEF deeply regrets having to report the death of Olga Carmona’s father,” the Spanish football federation said in a statement. </p> <p>“The footballer learned the sad news after the World Cup final.</p> <p>“We send our most sincere embraces to Olga and her family in a moment of deep pain. We love you, Olga, you are in the history of Spanish football.”</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="es">⚫️ PÉSAME | La <a href="https://twitter.com/rfef?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RFEF</a> lamenta profundamente comunicar el fallecimiento del padre de Olga Carmona. La futbolista ha conocido la triste noticia una vez concluida la final de la Copa del Mundo. </p> <p>Mandamos nuestro abrazo más sincero a Olga y a su familia en un momento de profundo… <a href="https://t.co/BSe2XmUrVF">pic.twitter.com/BSe2XmUrVF</a></p> <p>— RFEF (@rfef) <a href="https://twitter.com/rfef/status/1693350809424031985?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 20, 2023</a></p></blockquote> <p>Carmona scored the only goal of the intense game, landing the Spanish team, La Roja the World Cup win for the first time. </p> <p>A few reports claimed that Carmona's father passed away on Friday, but friends and family decided to not tell her until after the finale on Sunday, so that she could focus on the game. </p> <p>Carmona, who was still unaware of the news at the time, beamed as she spoke about the team's triumph in an interview after the match. </p> <p>“I think we’re still not aware of what we’ve achieved,” she said. </p> <p>“When we land we’re going to freak out.”</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="es">🙌🏻 ¡¡Qué viva España!! ¡¡Somos <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CampeonasdelMundo?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CampeonasdelMundo</a>!!</p> <p>🗣️ <a href="https://twitter.com/7olgacarmona?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@7olgacarmona</a> nos cuenta cómo ha marcado el gol que le ha dado el título a España.</p> <p>➡️ "Creo que todavía no somos conscientes de lo que hemos conseguido. Cuando aterricemos vamos a flipar".<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/JugarLucharYGanar?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#JugarLucharYGanar</a> <a href="https://t.co/NjRrg4bOTx">pic.twitter.com/NjRrg4bOTx</a></p> <p>— Selección Española Femenina de Fútbol (@SEFutbolFem) <a href="https://twitter.com/SEFutbolFem/status/1693307827568456054?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 20, 2023</a></p></blockquote> <p>During her goal celebration, the Spanish captain also displayed a message on her shirt that read "Merchi" which she dedicated to her best friend whose mother died recently. </p> <p>“I want to say this victory is for one of my best friend’s mother, who died recently, I celebrated the goal with that shirt,” she told Spanish broadcasters <em>La 1,</em> right after the game. </p> <p>Although the Spanish team had little time to enjoy their victory, Carmona was named player of the match for her breakthrough score in the finale. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Caring

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Don’t believe the hype. Menopausal women don’t all need to check – or increase – their testosterone levels

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/susan-davis-10376">Susan Davis</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a></em></p> <p>Ever heard “low testosterone” blamed for low mood, brain fog and loss of vitality? Despite all evidence to the contrary, social media influencers are increasingly promoting testosterone therapy as an elixir for women experiencing troubling symptoms of menopause.</p> <p>In a series of documentaries and <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-11792553/Davina-McCall-effect-sparks-menopause-testosterone-treatment-rush-putting-women-risk.html">social media posts</a> about menopause in 2021 and 2022, British TV presenter Davina McCall promoted the use of testosterone therapy in addition to standard <a href="https://www.menopause.org.au/hp/information-sheets/combined-menopausal-hormone-therapy-mht">menopausal hormone therapy</a>. The “<a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2023/02/17/davina-effect-fuels-surge-menopausal-women-using-testosterone/#:%7E:text=Chelsea%20Magazine%20Company-,'Davina%20effect'%20fuels%20surge%20in%20menopausal%20women%20using%20testosterone,NHS%20prescriptions%20for%20the%20hormone">Davina effect</a>” has helped fuel a <a href="https://pharmaceutical-journal.com/article/news/nhs-testosterone-prescribing-in-women-rises-ten-fold-in-seven-years#:%7E:text=The%20number%20of%20women%20in,The%20Pharmaceutical%20Journal%20has%20revealed">ten-fold increase</a> in prescribing of testosterone for women in the United Kingdom since 2015.</p> <p>Data isn’t available for Australia, but in my clinical practice, women are increasingly asking to have their testosterone level checked, and seeking testosterone to treat fatigue and brain fog.</p> <p>But while testosterone continues to be an important hormone before and after menopause, this doesn’t mean women should be having a blood test to get their testosterone levels checked – or taking testosterone therapy.</p> <h2>What does testosterone do?</h2> <p>Testosterone is an important hormone in women’s bodies, affecting the blood vessels, skin, muscle and bone, breast tissue and the brain. In both women and men, testosterone can act on its own or be converted into estrogen.</p> <p>Before menopause, testosterone is made in the ovaries, where it helps developing eggs grow and aids in estrogen production.</p> <p>The ovaries release both testosterone and estrogen into the bloodstream, and the levels of the two hormones in the blood peak around ovulation.</p> <p>Some of the testosterone measured in blood is also produced outside the ovaries, such as in fat, where it is made from “pre-hormones” secreted by the adrenal glands. This source of production of testosterone takes over after menopause.</p> <h2>Do we have more testosterone before menopause?</h2> <p>The claim is often made that pre-menopausal women have more testosterone in their bloodstream than estrogen, to justify the need for testosterone replacement after menopause.</p> <p>But, when sex hormones have been measured with precision, studies have shown this is not true. <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31390028/">Our research</a> found estrogen levels are higher than testosterone levels at all stages of the menstrual cycle.</p> <p>Blood testosterone levels <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31390028/">fall</a> by about 25% between the ages of 18 and 40 years in healthy women. The fall in testosterone coincides with the decline in eggs in the ovaries but whether this is a marker of the decline, a consequence, or a cause of the decline is not known.</p> <p>From around 40, the rate of decline slows and blood testosterone levels don’t change when <a href="https://www.menopause.org.au/hp/information-sheets/what-is-menopause">menopause</a> occurs naturally. Studies have not shown testosterone levels change meaningfully during the menopause transition.</p> <h2>Can blood tests detect ‘low testosterone’?</h2> <p>Some influencers claim to have a condition called “testosterone deficiency syndrome” or low levels of testosterone detected in blood tests.</p> <p>But there is no “normal” blood level below which a woman can be diagnosed as having “testosterone deficiency”. So there’s no such thing as having a testosterone deficiency or testosterone deficiency syndrome.</p> <p>This is also in part, because women have very low testosterone concentrations compared with men, and most commercial methods used to measure testosterone cannot separate normal from low levels in women with any certainty.</p> <p>Pre-menopausal women might also be told they have “low” testosterone if blood is drawn early in the menstrual cycle when it is normal for testosterone to be low. (However, it would only be clinically necessary to do this type of blood test to look for <em>high</em> testosterone, in someone with with excessive hair growth or severe acne, for example, not for <em>low</em> testosterone.)</p> <p>In post-menopausal women, much of the action of testosterone occurs in the tissues where it is made, after which testosterone is either converted to estrogen or broken down before it leaks back into the circulation. So blood testosterone concentrations are not a true reflection of tissue concentrations.</p> <p>Further complicating the picture is the enormous variability in the effects of testosterone. At a given blood level of testosterone, some women might have oily skin, acne, increased body hair growth or balding, while others will have no such effects.</p> <p>So, looking for a “low” blood testosterone in women is not helpful.</p> <h2>Can testosterone improve sexual desire? What about other conditions?</h2> <p>There is sound evidence that testosterone therapy may improve sexual desire in post-menopausal women who have developed low sexual desire that bothers them.</p> <p>This was <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13697137.2019.1637079">confirmed by</a> a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31353194/">systematic review</a> of clinical trials comparing testosterone with a placebo or an alternative. These trials, all of which involved a treatment time of at least 12 weeks, showed testosterone therapy, overall, improved desire, arousal, orgasm and sexual satisfaction in post-menopausal women with low desire that caused them distress.</p> <p>Treatment is only indicated for women who want an improvement in sexual desire (after excluding other factors such as depression or medication side effects) and its success can only be determined by each woman’s personal self-reported response.</p> <p>But there is <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13697137.2019.1637079">not enough evidence</a> to show testosterone is beneficial for any other symptom or medical condition. The overall available data has shown no effect of testosterone on mood or cognition.</p> <p>As such, testosterone therapy <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13697137.2019.1637079">should not be used</a> to treat symptoms such as fatigue, low mood, muscle weakness and poor memory, or to prevent bone loss, dementia or breast cancer.</p> <p>However research continues to investigate these potential uses, including from my <a href="https://www.monash.edu/medicine/sphpm/units/womenshealth">research team</a>, which is investigating whether testosterone therapy can <a href="https://asbmr.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jbmr.534">protect against bone density loss and muscle loss after menopause</a>.</p> <p><em>You can learn more about participating in one of our studies <a href="https://www.monash.edu/medicine/sphpm/units/womenshealth/join-a-study">here</a>.</em> <!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. 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More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/susan-davis-10376">Susan Davis</a>, Chair of Women's Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/dont-believe-the-hype-menopausal-women-dont-all-need-to-check-or-increase-their-testosterone-levels-209516">original article</a></em>.</p>

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