Along with other celebrities like Davina McCall, who hosts Sex, Myths and The Menopause, 90s Britpop icon Meg Mathews is raising awareness of the menopause and its many – often debilitating – symptoms. Here, she chats to Planet Mindful about her experiences and her recent book, The New Hot
Why do you think there is still stigma surrounding the menopause?
“There is sadly just not enough up-to-date information and support out there for the 13 million women this affects in the UK.
I just wanted to write a book that addressed all the questions I get via my website – Meg’s Menopause – with the top experts in the field. I wanted to write a book that was honest, that empowered and entertained while taking on the menopause with attitude and style.
Doctors only receive three hours on the menopause during their whole training so women do need to do their own research too. Employers and their HR departments need to be able to help support women during this time of their life.
We need to empower women to talk and get the information and treatment they need. The embarrassment and shame around this subject must go. It’s years of what we have been bought up hearing and we don’t know any different – things have moved on and we all have to catch up with the latest research. I hope my book can help with this and be an amazing resource for women and men.”
How has the menopause affected you?
“My menopause experience was a very dark and lonely time and nothing that I was prepared for. I didn’t know what I was experiencing was linked to the menopause.
My symptoms were all linked to mental health. I had lots of anxiety, lots of overwhelming feelings towards life and I became agoraphobic and didn’t leave the house for three months and my world became smaller and smaller.
I had thought this is what life had dealt me and had no idea it was anything to do with hormone imbalance.”
What are the main things you’ve learnt from going through the menopause yourself and writing your book, The New Hot?
“I have learnt how different we all are and how we struggle with different symptoms in many ways. There is no one cure for all and only through trial, error and persistence can we remotely feel human again.
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Only through talking about the menopause can help conquer the stigma and liberate our isolation.
Writing my book gave me the tools to enhance my knowledge by bringing all the best menopause doctors together in one place.
Therefore, being able to give back that knowledge to those who need it, in the form of a go to book.”
Do you think diet, nutrition and exercise have any impact on the effects of the menopause?
“I do think these things are important, yes. In the book, I’ve included a simple stretching regime to try each day.
As long as I sleep well, stay hydrated, do my yoga and meditate, connect to nature on long dog walks – these things keep me well balanced.
A clean diet helps towards the management of symptoms. Personally, these are things I try to do daily to make me feel amazing. There are lots of great free classes on YouTube to help.”
In your book, you mention the male menopause. Is this a thing?
“Yes, I have a whole chapter in The New Hot about Male Menopause.
Men’s testosterone levels start to fall naturally from their mid-20s onwards. By the time men hit the age of 50, research at the Centre for Men’s Health has shown that 20% suffer from symptoms labelled as ‘male menopause’ or ‘testosterone Deficiency Syndrome’. There is also a section in the book on Trans Menopause which I’m very proud of.
How can people support others if they haven’t experienced it themselves?
“I think it’s about talking, sharing how you feel honestly, and maybe give your husband or teenagers a copy of my book for them to read so they get some ideas how to support you.
Talk to your HR department about how you feel and get as much information together about your menopause systems to inform your choices before you speak to your GP.”