THE First Minister’s coming out last weekend as having experienced menopausal symptoms and now being on HRT was definitely a moment in the fight to break what Kirsty Wark once called the “societal omerta” around the menopause. Nicola Sturgeon talked, at Flushfest menopause festival, of wanting to “burst the stigma” and with this she clearly does.

Hang on? Is there an omerta? Seems like everyone is talking about the menopause these days

There have been quite a few of us making a noise in recent years, often in books, including my own collaboration with Kaye Adams, Still Hot!, and Kate Muir's excellent Everything You Need To Know About The Menopause (But Were Too Afraid To Ask) as well as documentaries, such as those presented by Davina McCall and even menopause cafes.

But I'm not aware of another female political leader who has acknowledged their journey through this midlife hormonal change – which happens just around the age when women these days are often at the peak of their powers and leadership. Michelle Obama has, but she is not a political leader, and then there's Birgitte Nyborg in Borgen, going through hot flushes, but that's safely within the world of fiction. Sturgeon is breaking ground here.

The noise is rising right now because the taboo has not entirely cracked. And if we’re hearing a lot about the virtues of HRT, that’s also because for many years the drugs were demonised. It’s because even now it’s still not possible, in parts of Scotland, to get key drugs.

READ MORE: "There is still a silence around the menopause... We need to get rid of that."

So, this outpouring is something we should embrace?

Absolutely. A key problem for many women going through menopause is that for a long while it was unspeakable. Ms Sturgeon’s statement is part of making it speakable, even at the top.

But, at the same time we have to watch for pitfalls. When the story becomes about Sturgeon being on HRT, rather than simply a menopausal woman in her power, it can become one that focuses solely on the menopause as a problem, to be medicated, and misses out the part of the revolution that’s about creating a more positive view of older women and this transition. I absolutely want women to be able to easily access the HRT they need, but I want that revolution in attitudes too.

The menopause can sometimes seem a no-win game for women. If we say we want to use HRT to help us, are we also announcing the brain fog, rage and anxiety that can come with it as a problem to be used against us? No wonder some women stay quiet.

I mean, why even does the menopause even exist?

Good question. All too prevalent these days is the idea that the menopause is just a by-product of the fact that women would all have been dead by 50, a kind of dustbin period of our lives. Therefore, we should do whatever we can to prevent it happening, particularly given HRT has been linked to greater longevity. But the very existence of the menopause is more complex and debated than that – with many hypotheses attached to it, including the grandmother hypothesis, which revolves around the evolutionary usefulness of grandmothers in child-rearing.

Research also shows that in hunter-gatherer societies women would have lived for some decades after menopause. As evolutionary biologists Rufus Johnstone and Michael Cant have noted, "Among the Hadza hunter gatherers of Tanzania, for example, 40% of newborn girls survive to 50 years, and those that reach this age can expect to live into their seventies. The ubiquity of menopause, despite vast differences in ecology and technology, suggests that it is an evolved feature of human reproductive physiology, not an artefact of modern living."

What would you most like changed?

That women struggling with the menopause get the support they need. And that the post-fertile woman is no longer seen as redundant, or a problem. Potentially - whether on HRT or not - she is, like the First Minister,  in her prime.

READ MORE: Is that 'meno rage', Mum? Families busting menopause taboo