World Menopause Day: A word cloud to uncover menopause experiences and stories

Betty Adamou
Profile image of Betty Adamou

Betty Adamou

10 mins

A collaboration between Word Cloud Plus and Not Sorry Club, by Betty Adamou.

When we’re at school, as part of sex-education lessons, girls are taught what I call the 3 ‘p’s; periods, puberty, and pregnancy.

We learn, as boys do, about how our bodies will change and what to expect. But for girls, another layer of education is crucial, but completely removed from the school system, and that is the fourth and secret ‘p’; the perimenopause, as the first phase to menopause in a woman’s life.

Time and again, the women I speak to through the Not Sorry Club, and indeed anecdotally through friends and colleagues, share that the menopause is shrouded in mystery with our first educators not being teachers or even family members, but Google.

In this article by UCL (University College London), they reveal highlights from research that shows 9 in 10 women were never educated about the menopause.

Considering that half the global population has or will go through the menopause, this is a shocking lack of information, and even Google doesn’t tell us the reality of everything a woman will experience, good and bad, in this important life stage.

To mark and celebrate World Menopause Day today, 18th October, the Not Sorry Club has teamed up with Word Cloud Plus to create a word cloud that can shed some light on the menopause.

After all, knowledge is power, and when women can better understand what to expect from this life phase, we can prepare for it, and live through it, with more kindness to ourselves and resilience.

But, to make a word cloud, you need data.

A word cloud pulls from a dataset the most predominant terms used, and then sharing those words in different sizes to mark which terms were used the most to the least.

So, with the intention of creating a word cloud to spark conversation on World Menopause Day, I hunted online for anywhere that women were sharing their stories and experience of menopause, with unfortunately, much fewer results than I would have hoped. Which is, in itself, telling of the taboo nature the ‘M’ word still carries for us all.

Many of the stories being shared online were not ‘full’ stories either; bits of quotes taken from women in interviews, whereas what I wanted to find were full stories from start to end from women who were sharing their experiences, in their own words.
Finally, across three different websites (Suffolk Libraries, The Guardian, and I was able to find and use 14 such stories in total.

The women sharing their stories

The women sharing their stories, from this collection of 14 contributions, come from a variety of professions and professional backgrounds (of those who shared their job titles); these women work for the NHS, are psychologists, university lecturers, menopause coaches, physiotherapists, library managers, podcast hosts, beauty industry experts, customer support workers, entrepreneurs, people who work in education and more.

All the stories are from women based in the UK, and of the women who shared their ages, they were between 49 and 60. The websites, from which these stories were used, are from 2019, 2022, and 2023. Links to the websites where the stories were originally gathered can be found at the end of this article.

The word cloud; helping us understand menopause

A word cloud created using the free version of Word Cloud Plus. I took the 14 stories, and uploaded them altogether, removing the authors' names and ages, job titles etc. so that only the stories remained.

The largest word you’d expect to see in the middle of this image would be, of course, the word ‘menopause’, and indeed it was. Across the 14 stories and 6000+ words, the term ‘menopause’ was naturally used most often and therefore the largest central word, but, because we know this is a word cloud about menopause, I removed the word to allow other terms to shine through and give us more useful information.

Immediately, we see some key terms stand out; ‘brain fog’, ‘hot flushes’, ‘hrt’, ‘symptoms’, and, ‘social media’, among others.
So what were the women saying about these things?
And can this help an (almost) 38 year old woman like me understand menopause better?

Brain fog

In Word Cloud Plus, quite handily, all you need to do is click on a word in the cloud to see all the statements where that word was used in the data.

Here’s what women were saying about brain fog;

  • the brain fog doesn’t seem to have cleared though
  • I worried that being so rubbish at my job when I’m deep in the brain fog that I’d upset the people around me and get told off by the grown-ups
  • brain fog or unexplainable rage until you hit your 50
  • brain fog and eventually I had debilitating anxiety
  • I signed up for courses and sat learning whilst having hot flushes and brain fog moments - yet I wasn’t menopausal
  • brain fog – i refuse to accept that one

I know, through speaking to women, that ‘brain fog’ is forgetfulness, and can be a lack of focus, often associated with menopause, but in recent years the term has also been used to describe the confusion, sluggishness and forgetfulness associated with COVID-19.

For women going through the menopause though, we can see from these stories that there are concerns around the effect of brain fog on our relationships, at work, and causing anxiety. According to The Menopause Charity, (an organization that admittedly, I hadn't even heard of before writing this article), a diet that includes plenty of fish, seeds, eggs, and nuts can help, as well as exercise and deep sleep. Another point of support and importance relating to brain fog segues us into two more terms in our word cloud; “hrt” (which is toward the left of ‘brain fog’ in the word cloud), and “oestrogen and progesterone”. What are these terms, and why are they important?

HRT is Hormone Replacement Therapy, and according to the NHS website, is a treatment used to help menopause symptoms. It replaces the hormones oestrogen and progesterone, which fall to low levels as you approach the menopause. As well as HRT helping with brain fog, HRT can also help with other menopause symptoms including hot flushes, anxiety, (incidentally, two more terms noted in the word cloud) and mood swings.

So, what are the 14 women saying about HRT in their stories?
There was a lot of data here, so for the sake of keeping this article concise, I’ve removed anything repetitive. Here’s what the stories reveal;

  • and recommended hrt to help
  • “i think maybe you need to up your hrt dosage”
  • particularly if women aren’t at the stage where hrt is an option
  • peer support and hrt if you choose will enable continued quality of life as you navigate this stage
  • told her of this new development and a prescription of hrt was then forthcoming - 2
  • reducing the cost of hrt for women
  • it’s not all about going on hrt either as many women can’t or don’t want to take it for a variety of reasons
  • i decided to go on hrt as those who experience early menopause are at greater risk of conditions like osteoporosis and hrt can help
  • i’m now very vocal about my menopause experience and hrt
  • my doctor didn’t offer me hormone replacement therapy hrt treatment back then
  • black women are half as likely to take hrt as their white counterparts
  • hrt patches brought back bleeding
  • after 18 months of this i started low-dose hrt on the advice of my gp

What comes through for me here is that HRT is not for everybody, or indeed as a blanket treatment for women of any menopausal age. HRT also needs different dosage levels, depending on the person - something else I didn't realise before. And, the statement that black women are half as likely to take HRT as their white counterparts is also a reveal. Looking into the data, that particular author shared a statistic from a piece of research that can be found in the Nursing Times here, which has other insights which, before writing this article and creating the word cloud were unbeknownst to me. For example, that Asian women do not experience menopausal symptoms as severely as Western women, and a piece of research in 1997 found that black women reached menopause about two years earlier than white women.

The quotes on HRT above also tell us that while HRT can help, there are risks in developing other conditions. And it’s clear that HRT is something that a medical professional must oversee and administer.
More information about HRT and its affects can be found here on the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website:

Hot flushes

I don’t know about you, but when anyone says “menopause”, I think of hot flushes. This seems to be the number 1 thing to expect, and Drew Barrymore’s recent live on-screen hot flush cemented the association between these two terms for me personally.

So, what have the 14 women said about hot flushes?
Here, I show all the phrases that were used;

  • i was actually expecting hot flushes and my hair started to fall out - so surely the other stuff wasn’t menopause
  • i signed up for courses and sat learning whilst having hot flushes and brain fog moments - yet i wasn’t menopausal
  • they said antidepressants i was taking cause hot flushes they don’t
  • menopause is not just hot flushes
  • i was also getting hot flushes

What I can tell from this shorter data set is that hot flushes are not just happening in menopause, and it raises a question about taking antidepressants while experiencing menopause. The Menopause Charity has a PDF on the subject and concludes that antidepressants can help with moods during menopause, but medical advice should absolutely be sought first;

And what about another term that stands out in the cloud; ‘social media’?

social media (on the left) is another predominent term in the data from the 14 stories

Social media

Here’s what the 14 women shared about social media:

  • early in 2023 i saw advertised on social media a group getting together
  • when i asked if i could post something on the trust’s social media pages to promote the network
  • it has become far easier more recently with the increased social media coverage and the davina programmes
  • another menopause warrior who coached me is the fantastic katherine gale look up her social media pages

Clearly, social media has been a source of sharing information on menopause, and a quick search for ‘the davina programme’ revealed two Channel 4 shows; Sex, Myths and Menopause (, and Sex, Mind, and the Menopause ( Both are available to watch in the UK, and both have been firmly bookmarked on my ‘to watch’ list.

And what about Katherine Gayle, who is mentioned? A quick search reveals she is the Founder of Flux State, and seems to be a shining light of education on the menopause, and even has a ’34 symptoms of the menopause’ e-book. Katherine Gayle can be found on socials and her website, in is a regular interviewee on podcasts.

Indeed, in writing this article and doing a lot more Googling and searching about menopause, my Instagram feed has responded in kind by sharing accounts that focus on the menopause, revealing that social media can indeed be (nowadays) a great educational and connecting resource for women. Here are some accounts that have popped up that I've already started to follow:

@MenopauseMatters, @MenopauseMandate, @WhatTheMenopause, and @Menopause_Doctor

Knowing that education and support is available through social media has personally made me feel like approaching this life phase will be less frightening.

And, it is scary; it's worrying to see and feel your body change, and not know why. This is why data, information, is so powerful to each woman going through or approaching menopause.

Earlier this year, I approached my GP to check if I was perimenopausal, which in itself, was a rollercoaster ride in my own desk research; googling my symptoms to reveal that I may have started this life-phase (on average) early. Women on average are between 45 and 55 according to the National Institute of Aging.

So, when I went to the GP, I was already riddled with anxiety, not knowing that being perimenopausal really meant, and how it would affect me being able to have children or not, and how it would affect my body in the short or long term. After a few checks, the GP concluded that no, I wasn’t perimenopausal yet, but what struck me is that had I not Googled my symptoms, I literally wouldn’t have known the word perimenopausal existed. April 2023 was the first time I saw the word ‘perimenopause’. And, in writing this article on Word, the word 'perimenopause' is underlined in squiggly red. Even Microsoft word doesn't know what perimenopause is.

I hope that this article, the links, and the word cloud and data behind it has provided some useful information about the menopause and what to expect, and in the least, to spark some conversation and research between you and those you trust about the experience.
Indeed, other terms on the word cloud are talking, group, safe space, and people. So let’s get talking about menopause more, and if you’re concerned about any of the menopausal stages, please do visit your doctor, and talk to trusted loved ones about how you’re feeling.

My biggest takeaway from this, and from the resilient women who shared their stories, is that we are absolutely not alone in this, and women can, and do, live and connect more with each other through it.

With thanks to the 14 women who publicly shared their stories via the Suffolk Libraries, The Guardian, and websites of who’s stories we’ve used to make this word cloud, and help us deeper dive into some of their experiences and the terms used.

If you’ve experienced any phase of the menopause, and would like to share your story, the Not Sorry Club is running an ongoing ‘A Mile in my Menopause’ series, in which women can share their menopause stories by blog, video diary, poetry or even works of art, which will be shared via the website, and their social channels, to help create connection, education, and empathy between women experiencing menopause.

Word Cloud Plus is a platform founded by Ray Poynter, and William Poynter, a power-house father and son duo, and I thank them both for their collaboration in this important subject on World Menopause Day.

If you’d like to make a word cloud, you can create a free account, as I did, and make a start via:

Both Word Cloud Plus and Instagram can be found on social channels;
Word Cloud Plus on Instagram, X/Twitter, and Linked In
Not Sorry Club on Instagram, TikTok and Linked In

Betty Adamou is the Founder of the Not Sorry Club


The 14 stories, as as such the data used to help create the word cloud, were taken from these websites:

No copyright infringement intended.