“Talking about the menopause openly has given me tools to support my wife’s symptoms.”

13th Oct 2021

All menopause stories

Gawaine MacDuff-Clack works for first direct, a company that has signed our Menopause Workplace Pledge. As his wife went through medically induced menopause, Gawaine was able to provide support, having come to understand more about it through training and initiatives in his workplace.

first direct is one of the UK’s first independently accredited Menopause Friendly Employers.

What made you interested in learning about the menopause?

“Around four years ago, my mother-in-law had breast cancer for the second time and she was then tested for the BRCA1 gene. After a positive diagnosis, my wife was tested and she also has the gene.

“BRCA1 makes you more likely to develop any type of cancer, but in women the most likely are breast and ovarian cancer.

 “Getting this information was a potential life saver, as we were able to complete preventative measures such as a double mastectomy and then removal of her ovaries. As this would trigger menopause, they gave her an injection to mimic menopause to show her what it would be like. It was at that point I wanted to know more, so I could try to help her handle all that she is going through now.

 “Unfortunately, this may affect my daughter as well as any other children we may have, as there's a 50/50 chance of having the gene. We may have to see our daughter Willow go through this at an even younger age than my wife did.”  

What resources have you used and have you attended any events within your workplace? What have you learnt that has helped you?

“I’ve been to some Lunch and Learns where professional speakers have been able to provide insight and knowledge. Following some training, I now understand menopause better, and it gave me a safe space to ask how other women are going through this. I’m now an advocate for menopause awareness.  

“Talking about the menopause openly has given me tools and tips on how we can try to support my wife’s symptoms and make it normal to talk about. The resources on the Wellbeing Hub enable me to catch up on Lunch and Learns that I’ve missed and information that helps me understand other aspects of menopause, such as the nutritional side. It is important to know as the chef of the house!”  

If you could give one piece of advice about menopause, what would it be?  

“Talk freely, ask questions and realise that menopause affects all people: women, men, children, mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents and friends. Sometimes it’s the natural progression of life, other times it’s forced upon us medically. And you are never too young to experience it.”  

How do you feel about first direct being among the first UK firms to be accredited as menopause friendly?

“It’s fantastic!  

“It really shows that the dedication and drive of people involved throughout the group has brought change to people affected by menopause. Knowledge brings understanding, and that enables change.  

“We just need to keep up the good work and build on what has already been achieved.”

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Wellbeing for Women is asking employers to join the Menopause Workplace Pledge and support their colleagues going through the menopause. Find out more about the campaign and how you can get involved.

Through the campaign, we have partnered with the Menopause Friendly Accreditation Scheme, which provides organisations with training, guidance and resources. Learn more.

Find out more about menopause symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment here.