I HAVE to admit, it’s good to see the topic of menopause being discussed much more openly lately.

Despite how many people it affects, it remains a somewhat taboo topic.

There are a number of different reasons why it doesn’t get discussed as often as it should. Some women don’t want to raise it because they’re embarrassed – either because it makes them feel old or because it’s simply too personal. Others would admit they’re reluctant to draw attention to it in case it undermines them in some way. Then there are others who fear they won’t be listened to or taken seriously.

But with more than 50 per cent of the population affected at some point in our lives, it shouldn’t be a no-go topic.

Thankfully we’re seeing a change in attitudes, partially helped by the fact many high-profile women are coming forward, sharing their stories and normalising having a conversation about this inevitable fact of life. Just recently Loose Women’s Kaye Adams admitted she was in denial and didn’t want to be perceived as a “dried up old crone”.

In a bid to encourage more open discussion she has co-authored a book called Still Hot! which features more than 40 well-known women sharing brilliantly honest menopause stories, from Lorraine Kelly to Baroness Warsi.

Zoe Ball also hit headlines after admitting she experienced her first hot flush while interviewing Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, though she didn’t realise what was happening at the time. The latter point is important because a lot of women don’t immediately recognise the signs.

Our failure to discuss the issue more openly is probably partly to blame, so although many of us are familiar with the concept of a hot flush we might not associate menopause with other things like irritability, anxiety, concentration levels or sleep patterns.

Personally, I didn’t get much of a chance to go through a denial phase as I’m married to a GP who easily recognised the signs, so thankfully I got great advice and support.

It’s something I’ve talked about with friends, but in my professional life I’ll admit it’s not really a subject I’ve discussed. In hindsight perhaps I should have, because it can have a real impact on business.

Failure to discuss the topic could, in part, be behind the lack of senior women on boards and in senior leadership positions. Unless business leaders and HR departments find a way to make the topic less taboo, companies are going to lose top talent, and diversity at senior levels.

In fact, the chair of Scottish law firm Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie, Liam Entwistle, recommends that employers should consider introducing menopause policies. He suggests including access to flexible working or support services, and believes such a policy could reduce stigma, empower the workforce and be the key to better staff retention.

Unison has also produced a detailed guidance paper on this workplace issue looking at policies and practices, which covers everything from managers’ responsibilities to the role individuals should take in looking after their own health and seeking support if they are struggling. All these things are a big step in the right direction when it comes to breaking down the taboos.

As for my personal advice – I’d recommend tuning into a podcast called Postcards from Midlife which features two inspirational women on a mission to change society’s outdated narrative. It’s highly entertaining and informative and seeks to help women feel less isolated.

And something else that works wonders – discussing how you’re feeling with your friends, ideally over a generous helping of ice-cold rose wine, especially during this heatwave!

Laura Gordon is a CEO coach and group chair with Vistage International, a global leadership development network for CEOs