Memory loss and menopause wasn’t something that Lisa Rodwell spent any time thinking about – until very recently. Lisa has spent her career building consumer tech businesses, first at corporates such as eBay and Yahoo!; then as a senior executive at Moo.com, Wool and the Gang, Starling Bank and Nutmeg.
Today, she balances a portfolio of positions as a non-executive director at Swyft, Pact Coffee and MMC Ventures. She is also a marketing consultant for Vira Health, a women’s health care business focused on women in menopause.
How old were you when you noticed menopause symptoms?
At 47, my knees began to ache and I had the odd night sweat but as I still had a regular period I didn’t make the connection. I didn’t know what perimenopause was and I didn’t make the connection between those joint aches and getting hot in the middle of the night and the fact it was due to menopause.
Any symptoms that worried you particularly?
More recently, I was convinced that I had early Alzheimers and didn’t know what to do. I found myself struggling at times to find a word. I mentioned it one evening while at a networking event for women in tech and one woman pointed out that it was probably menopause and HRT could solve the issue.
I was convinced that I had early Alzheimers and didn’t know what to do. I found myself struggling at times to find a word.
Again, this was shocking to me as I had no idea memory issues were symptoms of menopause and again I didn’t relate to being menopausal as I was still having my period. Memory loss and menopause was not something I was aware of.
I contacted my GP and had all these memory tests just in case it was something more concerning. Memory loss is definitely the symptom I hate the most. Luckily, it forces you to find new ways of saying the same thing. I now think of it as a creative challenge.
What was the impact on your daily life?
The memory challenge initially affected my psyche and the way I thought about myself the most. I have become obsessed about the brain and it drove me to learn more.
Previously, I never paid a lot of attention to my health (eating habits and exercise), but now I’ve embraced it. I’ve been reading The XX Brain by Dr Lisa Mosconi and realised how the loss of hormones really does have an impact. She recommends a mediterranean diet and I’ve been TRYING to integrate that into my life. In fact, I’ve really enjoyed it.
What was the hardest thing to deal with?
The hardest thing I’ve been dealing with in midlife is my career and what’s next. I’ve defined myself by the work I do and the roles I have held. It has forced me to consider the importance of the actual work I’m doing and now I want my work to really matter in the world.
The hardest thing I’ve been dealing with in midlife is my career and what’s next.
That’s why I have created a new way of working that allows me to devote at least half my time to businesses that will help women of our age. In fact, one of the projects I’m involved with is Menopause What Works, which is a citizen science project designed to reduce the data gap that exists around menopause. Women can get involved anonymously to make a real difference.
Were there any positive symptoms?
When women start talking together, coming together collectively to solve problems, it is incredibly exciting. Conversation sparks transformation. Now that’s positive.
On a practical level, I am taking a more proactive approach to my health – eating better and exercising are the two biggies. I know I can’t eat a full bag of crisps and a glass of wine for dinner anymore.
Plus I’ve finally started exercising at age 51. I now do an online fitness class with Fiit, four times per week. I feel really proud of myself, even if it is only 25 minutes a time.
What do you say to other women about menopause?
After I learnt that my memory challenges could be a result of perimenopause, I spoke about it all the time with women in my circle. When you’re younger, it is so difficult to imagine that such symptoms as these are connected with perimenopause and you assume it is years away. So I’m talking about it more and explaining this reality.
Your menopause is…
I know I’m going through stuff, it’s a process. For me, it’s a time to reflect and decide what’s important to me, evaluate what I have accomplished and decide what else I want to do.
It has lit a fire in my belly again. I’m looking forward to figuring out what I achieve in the second half of my life. Without sounding too cheesy — it is kind of exciting!