Michelle Heaton chats with Ann and Jo about her early menopause.
Michelle Heaton shares her experience of the
big M - menopause!
Earlier this year Ann and Jo were invited to Femarelle’s launch of its new range of supplements, where we met Liberty X star, Michelle Heaton. She’s been working with Femarelle® to encourage more conversations about the menopause, and to highlight treatments available.
Finding out that she carried BRCA2 cancer gene aged 33, Michelle underwent a preventative double mastectomy and hysterectomy which inevitably led her into an early surgical menopause. Michelle is one of the 110,000 women in the UK going through early menopause which affects one in every hundred women, under the age of 40.
Michelle is a massive menopause awareness campaigner who was recently mentioned in the recent World Menopause Day debate at the House of Commons. We caught up with her, and asked what pearls of wisdom she could offer others going through a similar experience.
J&A: You were hit with an early menopause at the age of 35. What did you know about menopause or indeed, early menopause before this?
Michelle: Honestly? Not a lot at all! I just concentrated on the operation I was having – a total hysterectomy – I was so focused on that I just didn’t think about the implications of hitting menopause.
J&A: How much support, advice and information did you get from medical professionals before and after your hysterectomy, about what early menopause entails?
Michelle: I was offered counselling – but I turned it down as I didn’t think I needed it. Looking back, I don’t remember being told much about it – or asking to be fair – but I think everyone was so focused on the physical, the operation, the high cancer risk, menopause was probably swept under the carpet. Not blaming anyone at all it just was.
J&A: You’ve said your menopause symptoms have been more emotional than physical and shared the impact hormonal depression and mood swings have had on you and yours. How do you manage these symptoms?
Michelle: Menopause is a long journey – for me for now it’s mainly anger, anxiety, short temper! But recently I have been getting really hot. Oh, and insomnia – that’s what’s taking its toll now. It’s awful.
I workout most days – certainly week days – I force myself, no matter what time I’ve gone to bed. It puts me in a better mood, gives me time to focus on me and gives your happy hormones a boost!
J&A: You’ve teamed up with the supplement brand Femarelle, how does this fit in with your treatment regime?
Michelle: Yes, I wasn’t aware that such a huge percentage – up to 95% of women in this country don’t want to take HRT. It’s important that we take positive steps to control and manage our symptoms. They are real. This is a natural food supplement and it’s been proved to help with such a huge variety of symptoms. And as mine are ever changing, as soon as I heard about this, I wanted it! I think what’s great about it is that it’s for the 3 stages of menopause - peri, menopause and post menopause, each throwing up different issues.
J&A: You’ve said that being a woman in early menopause can be a lonely place, could you elaborate?
Michelle: Throughout life we go through things with our mates. School, periods, boyfriends – and now marriage and kids. I started menopause at 35 so all of my friends are over a decade behind me. I don’t want to bother them all the time – I don’t want to be that person and also they wouldn’t understand – why would they! But I’ll be here for them when it’s their time!
J&A: We love the fact that you took part in the Real Full Monty: Ladies Night – what was the best and the worst bit? What did you take away from this?
Michelle: It was such a brilliant experience, the ladies were amazing. It was great to work as a group, a lot of the work I do now is solo and I love being part of a team. Also women supporting other women – it’s powerful. I loved the performance it wasn’t nearly as nerve wracking as I thought it would be, as you get so caught up in the moment.
J&A: ‘Sexual wellbeing after menopause’ was the theme of this year’s World Menopause Day 2018, what do you think?
Michelle: This is so important. It’s important to anyone but for me to go through it at such a young age – I’m still young I like to have fun! Whatever age you are, you’re still a sexual person there shouldn’t be a ‘best-before’ date! Women are living longer and looking and feeling better than ever as they age, so it’s an important subject to address. Don’t hide yourself away!
J&A: What advice can you give to any woman finding herself in early menopause?
Michelle: Firstly, you’re not alone. I thought I was – it hit me right in the face. I didn’t discuss it much at first, until I wrote the book, when it came pouring out. It forced me to address what it’s meant to me.
Find support, if it’s not your Mum, sister or your friend, go on line or ask your pharmacist. There are lots of support groups out there – I get a lot of messages on social media. I try to reply to as many as I can, but it shows you’re never alone!
J&A: Thanks Michelle, for sharing so honestly, your experiences!
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