Mammograms, menopause and stuff

— by Alyson Walsh


Photo: JD Williams

Yesterday, I had my first mammogram test. That Is My Age. Now that I’m over-50, I will have one every three years until I’m 73 (after which, it’s down to me to make the appointment). I LOVE the NHS and realise how fortunate I am to be offered this regular, life-saving, breast screening. For the uninitiated, having a mammogram involves: standing topless in front of an -x-ray machine, having the breasts manouevered into place on a shelf by a radiographer (one-by-one), each breast is then squashed by the machine with quite a heavy force while you hold your breath and the scanning takes place. This process reminded me, again, about the lack of discussion surrounding the ageing female body, the lack of information about the menopause. I consider myself to be a fairly intelligent woman but I still had to Google ‘why are women over-50 more at risk of breast cancer?’ Award-winning journalist Suzanne Moore has written the best feature I’ve ever come across on the menopause:

‘I find that no one wants me even to talk about it. “It” being the menopause. “My womb is a tomb” doesn’t seem to work well as a conversation starter.’

Written for the New Statesman, Moore’s feature is called There Won’t Be Blood and you can read it HERE.

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Yesterday, I had my first mammogram test. That Is My Age.