Former BBC Breakfast presenter Louise Minchin has always been open and articulate about the challenges of her menopause. And for that, we are grateful. The more women in the public eye speak out honestly, the more the ridiculous taboos around menopause will be toppled.
“I am like very many other women,” she says, “it has a very real impact. For me it had a physical impact, I had heart palpitations, I had tinnitus, all sorts of things.”
When she left BBC breakfast, there was a midlife gap on the BBC sofa. We’ve since seen Louise pop up in the Welsh ‘jungle’ for 2021’s I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. More recently, she’s joined her former breakfast colleagues to pay tribute to Bill Turnbull, who died in August.
Louise remains a menopause role model for health and fitness.
“Anybody who watches will be very well aware my passion is endurance sport, and I will absolutely continue to do that,” said Louise, of her post-BBC life. “I’ve got lots of really exciting adventures planned. I’m trying to write a book about that as well.
“And I’ll continue with my podcast, which is all about the mental and physical benefits of sport and exercise.”
We asked her to share her menopause journey, and tell us her coping strategies.
When did your menopausal symptoms start?
When I was about 47, and I’m 50 now.
What are your symptoms?
They are worse than I expected. My physical symptoms have been mostly night sweats, which make me feel like I have run a marathon in a tropical rainforest. Also, hot flushes, heart palpitations and overwhelming tiredness. I feel uncomfortable in my own skin, and anxious about things that wouldn’t normally worry me.
What has been the most challenging thing to deal with?
The wakeful nights and lack of sleep.
Have there been any positive symptoms?
A very active mind, bursting with new ideas.
What are the things that are getting you through?
HRT and acupuncture – and it’s HRT that’s made the biggest difference.
Did you seek any advice from experts, family or friends?
I’ve read books and articles on the internet, but I feel there is not information readily available – especially as how you’re affected seems to depend on the individual.
What has been the best advice you’ve received?
That it will be over!
Is there anything you wish you’d known?
Yes, I wish I’d known earlier what was making me feel so rotten and that I could do something about it.
What has been the impact on your daily life?
It has definitely impacted my daily life. I already have very little sleep because of the time I have had to go to work, with the alarm going off at 3.40am. Now, that sleep is disrupted, making me anxious and sometimes irritable about things which, pre menopause, wouldn’t have phased me.
Is there anything you’d do differently?
I think I would get help earlier. And also, when I had to come off a particular version of HRT, I would have been more persistent in trying to find another kind that would work for me.
What do you say to other women about menopause?
You are not alone in this. Start talking to your friends and see how it is affecting them. Go and see your GP and find out if there is a specialist in your surgery who you can talk to. There is help out there but you are going to have to seek it out and be determined to find out what works for you. And I am assured that one day it will be over and I’ll be stronger for it.
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What are your thoughts on this time of a woman’s life?
It’s challenging but we can all get through it.
Your menopause is…
…a challenge I can’t face alone.
You feel Hylda when…
…I cross the finish line of a triathlon.