Sophie, Countess of Wessex Speaks Out on Menopause: Women Are 'Even More Fabulous in Our 50s'

Sophie is backing a new campaign that calls on employers to support staff going through menopause in the workplace

Sophie Countess of Wessex
Sophie, Countess of Wessex. Photo: Danny Martindale/WireImage

Sophie, Countess of Wessex is raising awareness of the impact of menopause on working women.

The royal mom of two — who is married to Queen Elizabeth's youngest son, Prince Edward — joined a roundtable discussion to support the 'Menopause Workplace Pledge' campaign with charity Wellbeing of Women, which she became royal patron of earlier this year, and highlight the "tragic" impact that the menopause can have on employees. The campaign calls on employers to support women and staff going through menopause in the workplace, as it is estimated that 900,000 women in the U.K. have quit their jobs due to the menopause.

"Women having to leave the workplace because of the menopause is tragic," said Sophie, 56. "We are fabulous in our 40s, and we are even more fabulous in our 50s, 60s and 70s and we need to celebrate that and keep opportunities going for women."

She continued, "Together, we can support the thousands of women out there who form the backbone of our workforce. We cannot let anyone leave the workplace, feeling that they have got to slope off into the shadows. We have to be able to change that."

Sophie, Countess of Wessex
Sophie, Countess of Wessex. Samir Hussein/WireImage

Companies such as Bupa, PwC, HarperCollins UK and Santander took part in the discussion, where representatives shared how each one is taking measures to support staff.

Sophie became patron of Wellbeing of Women — an organization dedicated to saving and changing the lives of women, girls and babies through research, education and advocacy — in May. And in a royal first, the Countess of Wessex spoke candidly about menstruation, menopause and pregnancy in a video call with the organization's chair Professor Dame Lesley Regan and other experts.

"I've always found out when we talk about women's' health, actually, it's actually preceded by talking about women's problems or issues, which immediately puts it into a negative light," Sophie began. In accepting the role, the royal said she hopes to help normalize these taboo topics by raising them "out into the open, and not making it some kind of behind closed doors conversation."

Sophie & Prince Edward
Prince Edward, James Viscount Severn, Lady Louise and Sophie, Countess of Wessex. Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage

On menopause, the royal spoke from personal experience about the stage of change.

"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," the countess said. "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 … and it's quite a moment to admit it."

The Countess of Wessex
Sophie, Countess of Wessex. Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty

"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?" she said. "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.'"

An active promoter of gender equality and women's voices, the Queen's daughter-in-law said she was thrilled to start working with Wellbeing of Women.

"I'm delighted to take on this role. I have a vested interest in it," Sophie said.

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In addition to her work with Wellbeing of Women, Sophie serves as patron for over 70 charities and organizations for groups supporting young people and children, agriculture, avoidable blindness and the London College of Fashion.

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