It wasn’t too long ago that menopause was discussed in hushed conversations, if at all. But today, people aren’t just talking about it openly—they’re throwing menopause parties to mark this new stage of life.
Why now? One possibility is Gen X’s coming of (menopausal) age.
“We were raised to question things,” says Julie Kucinski, cofounder of Wile, a wellness brand for women over 40. “As we started experiencing perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms, we asked, ‘Why is this topic shrouded in silence? Why are there not better services? Why are there not better brands? Why are there not more conversations?’”
Celebrities are also helping end the stigma around menopause. Michelle Obama, Drew Barrymore, Maria Shriver, and Oprah Winfrey have discussed the topic openly. “I’m going through it, and I know all of my friends are going through it. And the information is sparse,” Obama recently told People magazine.
Even corporations have gotten on the menopause bandwagon, offering employee support groups and access to specialists. Some companies like Avon are even offering menopause-friendly work policies like flexible schedules and paid leave.
With a bumper crop of menopausal products having hit the market over last few years—and increased education and conversations around menopause occurring—women are “seeing this as a time to own their power,” Kucinski says. “In our surveys, midlife women are saying they still have a lot more to do. They still have a mark they want to make.”
Celebrating a new phase in life
“We’ve definitely seen an increase in women celebrating midlife, whether that be menopause parties, 50th birthdays, or even divorce parties,” says Jillian Leslie, cofounder of Catch My Party, who says uterus-shaped cakes are a popular order for menopause parties. Pinterest and other social media sites are teeming with menopause party ideas, from uterus-shaped piñatas to menopause trivia. “Today, many women feel that marking these milestones is an accomplishment, not something to be embarrassed about.”
While some celebrations focus on humor and fun, others center on education and the sharing of stories.
“I know that the taboos associated with menopause intimidate women and keep them from getting the information they need to live happy and healthy lives,” says Ellen Dolgen, creator of Menopause Mondays Parties—social events that include discussions on perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause. “Women supporting one another, with their favorite beverage in hand, is more approachable and less threatening.”
Dolgen begins each party by sharing her journey. Then the floodgates open, she says. “Everybody [shares] their story, and the group [becomes] a support system. After the party, they [have] each other to lean on, which [is] my goal,” she says.
For others, menopause parties are an opportunity to bid good riddance to painful or difficult periods.
“I was in perimenopause for 10 years, and my bleeding was out of control,” says Sheila Burke, of Cleveland, Ohio. When she reached menopause, she was “ecstatic,” and invited four close friends to celebrate. On a Friday afternoon, they met at a local shop and toasted to the end of her period over wine and cupcakes.
Ginya Benner, of Marshall, Mich., went into menopause in her early forties. Benner’s periods were an inconvenience during her frequent business trips. “When I realized I was in menopause, it was the best day ever,” she says.
For her menopause party, she hosted a sleepover. “I thought of all those boring games at baby and bridal showers, and I wanted something different,” she says. Her friends played irreverent games and showered her with gag gifts.
“We laughed so much,” she says.
Alisa Jones—author of The Empress newsletter, which aims to improve the experiences of women in perimenopause and menopause—recently posted about hosting her own perimenopause party.
This is more of an “it sucks, so let’s have some fun,” event, Jones says. “You are about to undergo an all-systems transformation. I decided I needed to throw myself a party.”
Jones invited eight friends to a Bridgerton-themed dinner party, which she hosted with the help of a costume designer friend.
Adds Jones: “I needed to talk about this experience with other women, have fun, and get presents.”