Upgrading: how to reframe women’s lives post-menopause

Dr Louann Brizendine’s new book aims to encourage women to see the post-menopausal part of their lives more positively and so change the way we view older women generally.

Older women talking to colleagues


There has been a lot in the news of late about the menopause and how to manage it better at work. The articles have tended to highlighted the problems associated with the menopause, from hot flashes to brain fog, and how these impact women’s self confidence and self esteem.

However, a new book takes a different tack. The Upgrade by Dr Louann Brizendine presents a much more positive view of the hormonal transition represented by the menopause. Dr Brizendine says she wanted to write the book because the focus is generally on the negatives of the menopause and because there was no road map for how women’s brains develop over this period. She describes the upgrade as ‘the wisdom phase that emerges after spending decades in the hormonal war zone. Emerging into the most powerful identity phase of a woman’s life…”

It is, she says, a return to purpose, a period when legacy becomes more important, where women turn their thoughts to how they can change the world for the better, to mentoring and sponsoring others and feel more able to be their true selves and be more fearless in their opinions. It’s not a given that women will experience the upgrade because it depends on how they view themselves in later life when freed from the fertility cycle and the constant focus on looks, says Dr Brizendine. It also depends on moving through the transition and not getting stuck in the grief for what was before.

Dr Brizendine was inspired to write the book after years of believing that, to reach greater equality, women had to play down the differences between them and men. She says her work with women and on neuroscience showed her that this approach played down the experiences of women in later life – “the riveting electrifying story of how things get better, things like relationships, self-care, confidence, inner strength, agency and effectiveness”. She says she had internalised the predominant message that women over 50 don’t matter and that this was therefore a revelation to her. For her this means women’s experiences in older age don’t get the attention they deserve.

The book goes through the whole transition phase and the importance of women taking time to think about and focus on how to live the second part of their lives. Creating a more healing, supportive environment where stress is lowered as much as possible is a vital part of self care during this process. There are suggestions for body hacks for the mind and Dr Brizendine says the upgrade happens naturally with a greater sense of self worth and through visualising daily what you want to be in the immediate future and after.

The book is about giving women greater confidence to embrace the later part of their lives. Dr Brizendine believes an important way of doing this is through changing how women see themselves. “We need to change the conversation in the culture, but more important is the conversation inside our own heads,” she writes.

*The Upgrade by Dr Louann Brizendine is published by www.hayhouse.co.uk.

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