September 27, 2022
Content warning: This episode contains discussion of suicide
Vanessa had always suffered with PMS and struggled with her mood and emotions after the birth of each of her children. After her fourth child was born, Vanessa’s mental health took a severe turn and she became suicidal. When her husband intervened and insisted she received specialist care, a psychiatrist realised how unwell Vanessa was and this was the beginning of an eighteen year journey of taking medication and receiving mental health support, including spells of inpatient care. It was all Vanessa could do to wake up every day and look after her children. Vanessa had wondered whether her mood was linked to her hormones as she would have 2 good weeks in every month before two bad weeks would inevitably creep in. In more recent years, friends persuaded her to see a menopause specialist and begin topping up her declining hormones and, as Vanessa explains, this has been lifechanging.
- You may not be well enough to go and ask for help yourself, allow family and friends to support you with this.
- Don’t always accept everything you’re told by healthcare professionals, challenge thoughts and negative attitudes towards mental health and the link with hormones.
- We develop lots of coping strategies to mask how we are really feeling. Don’t carry on hiding how you really are, speak to someone.
Help is available if you are struggling. Please contact the Samaritans by phone on 116 123, download the Samaritans Self-Help app or email email@example.com
September 20, 2022
Dr Taher Mahmud is a rheumatologist from London who has the ambitious plan of eradicating the bone weakening disease osteoporosis by 2040. Osteoporosis is a common disease, particularly for women around the time of the menopause, but with the right nutrition, exercise and hormone supplementation it is possible to prevent loss of bone tissue and even reverse osteoporosis if it has developed.
The experts discuss this worldwide preventable problem and some common misconceptions about bones. The discussion covers the challenges of current healthcare systems in getting accurate information about your bone health and the importance of raising awareness of how preventable osteoporosis is to all individuals.
Dr Mahmud’s tips:
- Take time for yourself, think about your body and your health and value it
- It is easy to diagnose osteoporosis and treat it, however…
- It is far better to learn about your bone health and do what you can to prevent osteoporosis
To learn more about your own risk of osteoporosis, visit www.sticksandstones.org.uk
Dr Mahmud is based at the London Osteoporosis Clinic, for more information visit www.londonosteoporosisclinic.com
September 13, 2022
Janet Birkmyre began her career racing as a track cyclist in her mid-30s and won her first elite medal at the age of 40. She went on to win three elite National Championship titles and multiple masters World and European titles. Now at 55, Janet is continuing to improve her times and fitness, and she is a champion of women continuing to enjoy and excel at sport at any age.
In this episode, the conversation covers Janet’s experience of perimenopause and menopause and taking HRT. As an elite athlete however, there are sanctions for Janet if she takes testosterone replacement as there are currently no exemptions to the regulations for therapeutic use in women, only for men. Janet shares her frustration at the unfair choice imposed on her of continuing with the sport she loves and excels in or replacing her low testosterone levels to help with her ongoing menopausal symptoms.
Janet’s three positive steps to improve health through exercise:
- Enjoy being active – make it fun
- Exercise with a friend – you will motivate and encourage each other
- Don’t be self-conscious or compare yourself with others – we come in all wonderful shapes and sizes.
So whatever you look like, whatever you’re wearing, be active and enjoy it!
Follow Janet on Instagram @janbirkmyre_torq_track_cycling
September 6, 2022
Dermatologist, Dr Sajjad Rajpar makes his third visit to the podcast this week to separate the facts from the fiction about skin changes in perimenopause and menopause and debunk some of the messaging around recent skin products marketed for menopause.
Dr Rajpar explains the importance of estrogen for skin and how HRT can prevent and heal damage to skin tissue such as leg ulcers, for example. The experts discuss the negative impact of skin product marketing on initially younger women and now menopausal women, and unpick some perceptions about what a ‘menopausal’ face cream will and won’t do for your skin.
Dr Rajpar’s three tips for problematic skin:
- For dry and irritable skin, avoid foaming and detergent based cleansers and use very gentle cleansing products or even a moisturising lotion to wash with. They may not lather or bubble but they do adequately remove dirt from your skin.
- Use a good moisturiser once or twice a day, consider a lotion in the day as it is lighter and use a cream at night.
- There are creams containing active ingredients that don’t have to rob the bank. Look for ingredients like retinol, vitamin C, and sunscreen.
You can visit Dr Rajpar’s website here www.midlandskin.co.uk and follow him on social media @dr.rajpar_dermatologist on Instagram.
August 30, 2022
This week offers a chance to revisit a previous podcast conversation – or perhaps hear it for the first time. Lucy Holtom is an experienced Ashtanga yoga practitioner who has a particular passion for helping with women throughout all cycles of life whether it’s to help manage the fluctuation of hormones during menstruation, postnatal recovery, or perimenopause and postmenopause. In this episode, Lucy and Louise discuss the different types of yoga, individual practices and the benefits they can bring. Lucy explains how her interest and experience in well woman yoga evolved and how she supports women in the perimenopause and menopause.
Lucy’s 3 tips for those interested in trying yoga for the first time:
- If you want to try a class, look for recommendations from others and chat to different teachers to find what’s right for you.
- Wear comfortable clothing – you don’t need to spend money on new yoga outfits, just wear whatever you can move freely in.
- Go with an open mind and enjoy!
Visit Lucy’s website at www.livingyouryoga.co.uk
Follow Lucy on Instagram @xxlivingyouryogaxx
This podcast episode was first released in October 2019
August 23, 2022
Dr Pooja Saini is a Chartered Psychologist and Reader in suicide and self-harm prevention based at Liverpool John Moores University. Her work has a particular focus in suicide prevention in primary care and developing community-based interventions for high-risk groups.
Since connecting, Louise and Pooja have been discussing the impact of perimenopause and menopause on mood, mental health and suicide and the many research gaps and unanswered questions in this space. In this episode, Pooja explains more about what is known and unknown regarding the effect of hormones on suicidal thoughts and outlines the research plan for a PhD funded by Newson Health Research and Education.
Pooja’s tips for those with suicidal thoughts:
- Early intervention is key; seek help as soon as you feel you are not yourself
- Change your habits to do more of what you really enjoy
- Talk to your loved ones, family and friends. Don’t try and hide or mask it.
If you need support, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123 for free from any phone or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pooja's Social Channels
Reference for BMJ article discussed:
McCarthy M, Saini P, Nathan R, McIntyre J. Improve coding practices for patients in suicidal crisis. BMJ. 2021 Oct 15;375:n2480. doi: 10.1136/bmj.n2480. PMID: 34654729.
August 16, 2022
Dr Anna Chiles is a GP and works in an NHS practice in Gloucestershire and at Newson Health as a menopause specialist. In this episode, the experts discuss the range of symptoms that can occur in the perimenopause and menopause and the impact of these on daily life, and they highlight what can be done for women when symptoms persist for many years.
Anna’s 3 tips for women who have struggled with symptoms for many years:
- It’s never too late to start HRT and have that discussion with your health practitioner. If you choose to try it, you don’t have to continue with it if you don’t like it.
- You don’t have to stop taking HRT when you reach a certain age
- It’s so important to keep active, for your independence, your balance, joints, and muscle strength. This goes hand in hand with hormone replacement.
August 9, 2022
Margaret Reed Roberts is an experienced social worker and educator who noticed a change in how she felt in her late 40s. Along with more obvious symptoms of perimenopause, such as hot flushes and migraines, there came a deterioration in her cognition – she struggled to initiate, plan and complete daily tasks and the mental load became unmanageable. A friend suggested there may be more than perimenopause going on and questioned if Margaret was neurodivergent.
In this honest and insightful conversation, Margaret shares of the ‘relief and grief’ of being diagnosed with ADHD as an adult and the impact she now understands ADHD has on her daily activity, home life and relationships.
Margaret’s three tips for those who have ADHD or think they might have it:
(provided after the conversation)
- Be informed. Knowledge is a game changer. You feel more confident when you understand and are better able to advocate for yourself. Challenge others where necessary, using your acquired knowledge and pass that information on.
- Don’t be alone; join support groups, talk to empathetic friends and family.
- Tell your story. You and your story are valuable, not everyone will listen or care, but the more we talk, the more we break taboos and stigma.
Follow Margaret on Facebook
August 2, 2022
Susie Crowe is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist who is passionate about advocating for and empowering women to understand their bodies and supporting them to make choices about their medical care and their lifestyle.
In the midst of the pandemic, Susie noticed fatigue creeping in and put it down to burnout from her busy job. When she began having night sweats and saw her doctor, the menopause was the initial diagnosis suspected but there were no other symptoms of perimenopause occurring. Susie became more unwell and after months of having normal blood tests, further investigations revealed that she had non-Hodgkin lymphoma – a type of blood cancer. In this episode, the experts discuss women’s experiences of sudden onset menopause after treatments for cancer and the benefits and safety of HRT.
Susie’s advice to healthcare professionals:
- Listen to your patients as they know their bodies best
- Have empathy for a women’s menopausal symptoms (as they may be worse than those from the cancer or side effects from treatments) and she may feel very vulnerable
- Prioritise personalisation and choice by providing the right information and encouraging your patient to make their own decision based on what’s important to them and their life.
Follow Susie on social media:
July 26, 2022
Farhana is an accredited family law specialist and mediator working with Family Law Partners in London. During her 20-year career, Farhana often noticed an unspoken element at play when helping women through divorce, but it wasn’t until she identified perimenopause within her peer group and those close to her that she appreciated the extent of the problem and was able to professionally decipher the impact of menopause on relationship breakdown. Farhana launched the Family Law Menopause Project to see whether any other colleagues in family law were factoring in this important element and to raise awareness of perimenopause and menopause when it comes to family cases dealing with divorce, splitting the assets, children issues or domestic abuse.
Farhana’s tips for family lawyers:
- Listen, enquire, and communicate. Look for cues and don’t be afraid to ask questions
- If you think a client is experiencing peri/menopausal symptoms affecting their relationships and wellbeing, invite them to see their doctor
- Factor the menopause into your cases. Pick a family process that suits the client, for example arbitration or mediation, and be sympathetic.
Visit Farhana’s family law practice at www.familylawpartners.co.uk
Follow Farhana on Twitter at @ShahzadyLaw @LawMenopause or lawmenopause on Instagram