May 3rd 2022
#myhormonehero: everything that gets us through peri- and menopause
October 6th 2021 / 0 comment
We asked leading women in the menopause space from celebrities Lisa Snowdon and Davina McCall to doctors and campaigners to tell us what helps them feel on top form
There are 13 million menopausal and peri-menopausal women in the UK and yet the conversation about the myriad symptoms, and their effect on so many aspects of our lives from mental health to relationships and confidence, is really only just beginning. In a recent survey by Fabulous Magazine, 50 per cent of women felt that there wasn't enough support for menopausal women.
Now in World Menopause Month, we asked prominent women in the menopause space to shout loud, to share their experiences and the things they turn to that get them through perimenopause and menopause, or whenever they are feeling 'hormonal'. Join our Instagram hashtag #myhormonehero on Instagram and share yours!.
From doctors to therapists and celebrities, here's what our experts shared for busting brain fog, boosting energy and restoring sleep.
Davina McCall, 53, presenter and menopause advocate
My hormone heroes: Hormone replacement therapy and menopause campaigner Diane Danzebrink
I knew I was hormonal when: "Before I got on HRT, feeling hormonal for me was just not feeling like myself. I behaved in a way that felt out of character – like being a shouty mum, trying to get the kids in the car suddenly it would sort of turn into something shouty. Then I’d sit at the wheel of the car and have a bit of a sob and say ‘Really sorry. I didn’t mean to shout, you are great kids. It’s nothing to do with you, it’s me.’ I lost myself.
When this happened I... “Now I don't ever feel like that, HRT sorted all that out. I’m a huge advocate for HRT. It’s a fantastic fix that’s good for us. I take oestrogen [gel], progesterone because I still have a womb [progesterone protects the womb lining]. I take Estradot [oetrogen] in terms of patches, I have the Mirena coil and Androfeme, which is the female testosterone cream licensed in Australia. I have to buy it privately which is really annoying."
"My hormone hero as a person is Diane Danzebrink She is a woman who wants to get all doctors educated, so she started a national campaign called Make Menopause Matter. She is a menopause counsellor consultant and educator at menopausesupport.co.uk."
Lisa Snowdon, 49, broadcaster and menopause advocate
My hormone heroes: Meditation and Prai Beauty x M&S MenoGlow
I know I’m hormonal when: "I’m extra emotional, I crave chocolate and need a duvet day!"
When this happens I: "Meditate for 15 minutes first thing. Getting outside in the fresh air helps too as well as big hugs with my partner George. I also love the Prai Beauty MenoGlow products, from £20, which are designed especially for menopausal skin. I’m an ambassador and they are my beauty heroes."
Alice Hart-Davis, 58, founder of The Tweakments Guide
My hormone heroes: Breathwork, bioidentical hormones and a Dr Harris sleep mask
I know I’ve forgotten my hormone supplements when: "I start having hot flushes and feel unfocused and exhausted before lunchtime hits."
When this happens I: "Take bioidentical hormones. In the morning I take a compounded lozenge with the appropriate dose of pregnenolone, DHEA, oestrogen and testosterone. In the evening I take capsules of progesterone, plus melatonin (which helps with sleep) and vitamin D, which has a hormone-like effect. I’ve been on BHRT (bioidentical hormone replacement therapy) since I started drifting into perimenopause in my mid-40s.
"I’m a great one for exercise (weights, yoga, walking the dog and cycling to get around) and calming practices such as meditation. I’m a long-term Headspace subscriber. Breathwork with Richie Bostock aka @thebreathguy helps too.
"Like so many other mid-lifers, I struggle with getting back to sleep in the middle of the night (even with the melatonin) and my latest discovery is the Dr Harris Anti-Wrinkle Sleep Mask, £89.99, which has an amazing calming effect on the brain and almost always does the trick. I recommend all of these things to any friends who will listen."
Alice is an ambassador for Dr Harris' Anti-Wrinkle Sleep Mask. Visit The Tweakments Guide here.
Eva Alexandrides 46, co-founder of 111Skin
Hormone heroes: Sea swimming and running
I know I'm hormonal when: "I feel sad for unexplainable reasons."
When this happens: "I go for a long swim in the sea during summer, like here in Mykonos, or if it's a colder month, a run clears my mind and alleviates the sadness and gives a new sense of clarity."
Dr Terry Loong, 43, integrative aesthetic and hormone doctor specialising in perimenopause and menopause at GetHarley.com
Hormone heroes: Online dance classes at Steezy.co and an oestrogen patch
I know I'm hormonal when: "I have less patience (poor husband and kids), I get more anxious and worry more, my sleep is disrupted, my energy is low, my body and joints ache and my skin starts to break out."
When this happens: "I dance! Movement and dancing have always made my heart sing and my spirit happy. Music and dancing help to boost feel-good hormones endorphins and dopamine and to help process any stuck or heavy emotions. Steezy is one of the best dancing studios online, helping people enjoy dance. They have various styles ranging from dance workouts, Contemporary, K-Pop, Jazz, Heels, Ballet and Hip Hop.
"I found it by chance on Instagram during lockdown. I’ve been meaning to find an online workout class that I would enjoy and when I trialled it, I was hooked. I attend classes two or three times a week - it’s about half an hour but I usually spend an hour to get the choreography right. I have a small living space but it works and definitely gets your heart rate up and gives a good sweat (good for detoxification). If you’re looking for a fun way to get fit, I highly recommend Steezy.
"Although I’m young, my periods were getting very scanty and irregular. I was getting bad brain fog, fatigue, feeling sad, palpitations, mild hot flushes and just lack of motivation to do anything. I’ve been on HRT for almost two months now. It’s lifted the brain fog, I have no more joint pain, hot flushes and I generally feel happier. It’s given me my motivation back to do more meal planning, to exercise and to pursue things that align with me.
"I started on body-identical oestrogen patch (I’m currently on Evorel 50) every day and Utrogestan (body identical progesterone) 100mg capsules two weeks out of four."
Dr Sophie Shotter, aesthetic and wellness specialist, Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) expert, founder Illuminate Skin Clinic
My hormone hero: Creatine supplements
I know I'm hormonal when: “I’m weaker during my workouts. During week four of my cycle, no matter how hard I push, I just can’t get my usual power output. I might be on my Peloton and be feeling like I’m pushing myself really hard, but be around a third below my usual output.
When this happens: “I try to change up my training. Rather than pushing myself and trying to beat my personal best, I will focus more on lower intensity longer duration workouts. I will also take Strong Nutrients Creatine Monohydrate, £19.95. Creatine is a naturally occurring substance in the body, known to boost energy levels available during workouts. So it helps me to still get more out of myself. I have used creatine on and off for several years now and would definitely recommend it to friends.
Rebekah Brown, 47, founder of MPowder supplements and online community
My hormone heroes: cold water swimming and De Mamiel oils
I know I’m hormonal when: "I become invincible for roughly 24 hours. During this time no problem is too big, no task too small. I could run a small country, write a 12-month plan for the business and do the kids’ packed lunch for tomorrow. But I’ve learned that this period is my warning bell rather than a starting pistol. As I transition through perimenopause, I’m learning keep fuel in the tank, because the coming days will need it."
When this happens I: "Make sure I don’t skip on meditation or cold swimming. As we head into autumn, the trick is not to over-think it. I set the alarm, roll into my swimsuit and leggings and head straight for the lido. The meditation happens back home, following a hot shower sitting on my heated tiles in the bathroom with a cup of steaming coffee.
"I also use oils - both to calm my mind and up the self-care a little. I love everything from De Mamiel and the Autumn Facial Oil, £80, is particularly lovely at this time of year. It smells amazing and has seabuckthorn and prickly pear oil to plump and soothe my skin."
Dr Lindsey Thomas, 45, GP and menopause specialist
My hormone heroes: Running, the Drowsy eye mask and This Works Deep Sleep Spray
I know I’m hormonal when: "I start to feel more irritable and sensitive to things that wouldn’t normally bother me at all. I don’t always realise immediately and after a few days it clicks ‘that's why the split bin liner made me cry.’ I might also start waking earlier in the morning and not being able to drop back to sleep as easily.
When this happens I: "Head out for a run. Running is my trusty go-to through many difficult times in life and I first started running properly when my Mum was unwell. I try to run at least three times a week but I know if I step it up, it really helps to reset me. I love running outdoors and I’m lucky to live near some beautiful tracks.
"Sleep wise it’s all about routine and keeping a cool dark room. I've recently found the Drowsy Eye Mask, £49.50, which wraps around your eyes and ears and feels like you are being cocooned in a lovely silky cushion. Blocking light and a bit of noise, it really helps me to settle back to sleep.
"I also love the This Works Deep Sleep Spray, £16.57, and the Pukka Herbs Night Time Organic Herbal Calming Tea, £10, which is a standard door stop delivery to any of my friends who are having a hard time."
Henny Flynn, 52, author, podcaster and menopause expert
My hormone heroes: Better You Magnesium Spray and Neal’s Yard Women’s Balance
I know I’m hormonal when: "My sleep gets disrupted, my mood dips and I begin to self-sabotage. I find myself avoiding doing the things that will most support me, such as journaling and walking. Noticing when things are slipping is one of the best ways I know of bringing them back on track.
When this happens I: "Use Better You Magnesium Oil Spray, £12.20 for sleep and aching joints. It’s quickly absorbed and works wonders. It was recommended to me by my nutritionist and now it’s a staple.
"I've also started taking MPowder MenoBoost, £69. in recent months. When I stopped for a couple of weeks over the summer I noticed my sleep was unsettled and my digestion was nowhere near as effective! Returning to it helped restore status quo.
"LotusWei's flower essences are also part of my hormonal tool kit. They make mists, oils and elixirs that I use according to what feels right in the moment. They're not specific to menopause and hormones but I find them to be immensely calming, invigorating or connecting, depending on which I choose to use that day."
Michelle Roques-O’Neil, 66, spiritual wellness expert
My hormone heroes: power walking, acupuncture and Your Super Co Moon Balance,
I knew I was hormonal when: "I went through the menopause in my early 50s. I had virtually no energy and my adrenals were permanent overloaded. Sleep was almost nonexistent with the added joy of hot flushes at the most inconvenient moments. My self-confidence was at an all-time low and I was unsure of who I was anymore.
What I did: "My salvation was twice-weekly acupuncture sessions and Chinese herbs administered by an ancient Chinese doctor. I’d arrive fall asleep for the entire hour. It took about three months of sessions to get me back to semi-normal.
"I then started to look at ways to address the lowered estrogen levels and regulating insulin levels. As a result, I changed my diet to support my fluctuating hormonal levels. I began to eat more protein mainly fish about 20-30 grams with each meal and reduced carbs and sugar intake replacing them with leafy greens. I tried to include healthy fats Omega 3 and smaller amounts of 6 which can lead to inflammation and something that I was trying to reduce.
"I started to exercise and found a daily power walk helped physically, made me feel more grounded and lifted my mood. I have done Qi Gong for 30 years this helped me to manage my stress because it combines movement, meditation and breath-work.
"I’m a big fan of Moon Balance by Your Super Co, £27.90. It’s a fabulous formula for every stage of your cycle with three key Ayurvedic herbs and adaptogens maca, shatavari and hibiscus to keep you nourished and balanced, I now recommend this to my clients, you can make it into a nut or oat milk latte before you sleep."
Sophie Fletcher, 48, author and hypnotherapist
My hormone heroes: Tennis, Menopoised magnets and fasting
I know I’m hormonal when: "I become ultra-senstive. Mess in the house tips me over the edge and I feel unmotivated and ‘slumpish’. Physically I know that there's a shift when hot flushes cluster, my hair falls out more than usual and I suffer from headaches. I also feel an aversion to social media and find my inbox insurmountable!
When this happens: "I play tennis twice a week which is one of the best sports for bone strength and is really social. I love it! I’m member of a fabulous club full of women over the age of 45 and believe it’s never too late to start. I also unapologetically take time out – and bow out of social media.
"For hot flushes, I use the amazing stick-on magnets by Menopoised, £44.90. They're an HRT alternative to coo you down.
"I also check in with my diet and make sure that I am eating well. I’ve been intermittent fasting and use the 16:8 – I’m surprised by how much this has helped me cognitively, I’ve also seen an increase in my energy levels."
Jo Darling, 52, women’s health acupuncturist and founder of Menopoised
My hormone heroes: Wakeboarding and vitamin B
I know I’m hormonal when: "I don’t get to sleep by 10:30 pm. I find myself tossing and turning for hours and struggle to stay asleep. If I start feeling this way, I know I haven’t exercised enough or given myself time to discombobulate before sleep.
When this happens: "I do wakeboarding and yoga. One gets me weight-bearing and the other gets me stretched and calm. Both have a massive impact on my mental and physical wellbeing. I’m a huge fan of vajrasati yoga which is slow, playful, restorative and spiritual.
Marie Reynolds, 50, global skin and wellness expert
My hormone hero: Supplements and smoothies
I knew I was hormonal when: For me, there was no lead up to menopause, I was thrown in head first after I had a hysterectomy at 42. I knew I was in it as levels of anxiety soared, I had brain fog, my sleep was affected and my joints started to ache.
What I did: "I was one of those annoying people who could eat anything and never put on weight. But the radical drop in oestrogen and how the body redistributes fat via the liver is something that is common with so many peri and post-menopausal women, so exercise is key. I like walking, swimming and I have just started doing EMF (electrical muscle fitness). Joint pain can also flare if I do not take my supplements regularly. I take PhytoCal Mag, £25, and Fungi Fusion, £27.99."
"Ageing, of course, is a natural process and it should not be looked upon negatively, it is the next phase in life but I have noticed I have aged faster in those years post-surgery.
"My first plan of action was to integrate plenty of nutrients, supplements and homeopathic remedies. I started making my ‘Menopause Magic Nutribullet’ smoothie from day one and I have continued to have this every day as it has made a huge difference to my skin and general wellbeing, because it’s full of phytonutrients, superantioxidants and minerals.
What's in it?
● Handful of spinach leaves
● 1/2 cup of frozen berries
● 1/2 avocado
● Teaspoon of chia seeds
● 3-4 walnuts
● Teaspoon of yellow maca
● 1/2 teaspoon hemp seeds
● 2 slices raw beetroot
● 6-8 red grapes
● 1 capsule of Yve a supplement, a supplement I developed for perimenopause, menopause and PMT. It is rich in isoflavones a type of and phyto-oestrogen. It also contains black cohosh for hot flushes and agnus castus for mood swings
● 2 capsules of Coll-Force, £25, a natural marine collagen, which includes biotin, super antioxidants , silica, combined with zinc and copper. Apart from the obvious skin benefits, it is also so important for ligaments, tendons and fascia health, which dehydrates and is made up of.. you guessed it collagen!