Nurture team June 27, 2017

We talk to Andrea McLean, from loose women, about how she has dealt with the menopause...

Tell us a little bit about your experience with the menopause

My mum started going through the menopause at 40, so when I started to experience symptoms at 42 I wasn’t surprised. I was suffering from night sweats and having to get up and change the bed sheets and my pillow as they were wringing wet. The heat coming off me was incredible, especially for someone who used to love an electric blanket! That was bad enough, but then I started getting hot flushes at work. I’d be on air, interviewing someone in front of a million viewers and the sweat would start pouring out of me - it was humiliating. I once interviewed 90’s heart-throb Jon Bon Jovi with sanitary pads under each arm to stop the sweat patches. This wasn’t how I imagined meeting this rock god! I was also having mood swings, but I was in the middle of getting divorced so I put it down to that. Once the dust settled, I realized my constant low level anxiety, self-doubt and mood swings weren’t ‘me’.

Did you use any treatments to help you get through it all?

I was lucky enough to chance upon a wonderful doctor called Tina Peers who specialises in reproductive health. She was incredible and talked me through the changes I was experiencing. A few tests later and she confirmed I was peri-menopausal and recommended a low dose of oestrogen gel. Within a couple of months I felt clearer headed and best of all the sweats calmed right down. Last year, two weeks before my 47th birthday I had a full hysterectomy. I really worried about this; my hormonal tap was essentially being turned off. Apart from the pain of endometriosis which was why I had the hysterectomy, I was in a good place, and I didn’t want anything to spoil that. I went to see Dr Peers again and she recommended I change my HRT slightly and touch wood, since my operation other than an early wobble I’ve been fine.

Did you notice any effects on your appearance?

My hairline has been thinning and receding for the past few years and my skin is dire. When my hormones were really up and down I developed adult acne on my neck and jawline; huge ugly spots which were awful.

Do you feel women are under pressure to act in a certain way?

I always want to be professional at work, and considerate to those I work and live with, so the only pressure to try and keep a lid on how I was feeling both mentally and physically came from myself. I’m not one who screams when I’m angry, I naturally internalise and put on a smile. I think as women we are brought up not to talk about things like this because it will make men feel uncomfortable. I understand that, because it’s the way I was brought up, but if the next generation of boys grow up knowing what girls are experiencing hormonally then we will have a generation of men who are much more empathetic about it – which can only be a good thing.

What are your top tips for women going through this time?

As the song says: “Whatever gets you through the night”. We are all different, and our experiences will be different. Do whatever works for you; be it HRT, natural remedies or a mixture of the two – only you will know what works for your mind and body. And be as kind to yourself as you would be to a friend – we are always our own harshest critic.

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