The Countess of Wessex has become the patron of Wellbeing of Women – a charity focusing on women’s health, which is determined to saving and changing the lives of women, girls, and babies. A recent video call with the group has been shared, in which Sophie talks openly about periods and the menopause, which are still something of a societal taboo.
To begin work with her patronage, the Countess held a conversation with the Chair of the charity, Professor Dame Lesley Regan DBE.
Sophie spoke about the need to make women’s health a part of everyday conversation – and how young girls find out more about periods from their friends than their mothers.
“The menstrual cycle, periods, the menopause, having babies. You know, we all talk about having babies, but nobody talks about periods, nobody talks about the menopause, why not?” Sophie asked.
“It’s something that happens to us 12 times a year, it’s something that’s incredibly normal but it’s something that is hidden and I think it’s time to say ‘enough’, we need to bring this out onto the table and say let’s talk about this,” she said.
Sophie added: “I’m sure when you first had conversations with your mother, everything was kept separate, we sort of found out more from our friends that we did from our parents, and I would hope that has changed at least a little bit for some young women today.”
Speaking last week with the organisation’s chairman and other specialists, Sophie highlighted the pressures women were under to look younger: “[The menopause] is an admittance of the fact that, yes, we’re getting a bit older,” she said. “We’re not as young as we were before, we’re not being… “productive”. We are past that stage, and it’s quite a moment to admit it.
“Whilst talk of the media and messaging about women, about women’s bodies, about our looks, everything is very superficial and we are trying to cling on to all of that for as long as we can.
“We’ve got to be fit, we’ve got to be clever, we’ve got to be looking skinny, we’ve got to be looking beautiful, we’ve got to look 25 years old for the rest of our lives,” she commented.
Wellbeing of Women helps to improve the health and wellbeing of women’s life through research, education, and advocacy. In her role as Patron, the Countess will amplify the charity’s life-saving research into all areas of women’s reproductive health across a woman’s life course, from menstrual health to menopause.
Continuing, Sophie admitted: “Really we should be celebrating the fact that we don’t have to have periods anymore – it should be a liberation, but it feels like a shackle. It’s described as something incredibly negative.”
“One, yes, it’s an admittance of the fact that yes, we’re getting a bit older, we’re not as young as we were before, we’re not being, you know, to use the word ‘productive’, we are past that stage, and it’s quite a moment to admit it.”
“Again, I go back to education; how much are young girls actually told at the beginning? When we’re told that we’re going to begin our periods, are we told that they’re going to end as well?
“We don’t want to have those conversations whilst we are in the zone of being young and having children and everything and then all of a sudden you are going, ‘Oh my god, what’s going on, how did this happen?'”
During the call, Her Royal Highness spoke to two researchers whose work is funded by the charity, Dr Varsha Jain and Dr Shuby Puthussery, and Sarah Jane Cale, who founded a menopause support group after struggling with symptoms herself.
We are delighted to announce that Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex is now our Royal Patron!
— Wellbeing of Women (@WellbeingofWmen) May 21, 2021
Professor Dame Lesley Regan DBE, Chair of Wellbeing of Women, said: “We are so thrilled that the Countess of Wessex has joined the charity.’
“Together we can raise awareness of women’s health issues, help break down some of the taboos surrounding them and make the world a better place for everyone. When we get it right for women, everybody benefits.”
Of her new patronage, The Queen’s daughter-in-law concluded: “I’m delighted to take on this role. I have a vested interest in it.”