At age 47, nineties Brit-pop celebrity Meg Mathews thought she was going crazy. She was suddenly unable to sleep, unable to leave her house for long, and suffering crippling anxiety.
“[For about three years] my life got smaller and smaller. I just gave up, really, I didn’t really know what was going on. I thought my colourful Brit-pop years of the 90s that were very well documented had really caught up with me,” she recalls.
“I couldn’t think of what else was going to lead me to not sleeping, having night sweats, foggy brain, the worst anxiety and overwhelmed by life.”
Watch the video interview here;
Or listen to the podcast episode;
When Meg presented to her doctor, the first step was antidepressants, but these did not affect the way she was feeling. In her words, she just seemed to be going ‘madder and madder’. It was a chance encounter with another lady at an AA meeting that led Meg to finally find some relief.
The lady told her that she had experienced a similar story, but her life was turned around after she was referred to a menopause clinic.
By this stage, Meg suffered terrible agoraphobia and had barely left her house in three months. She went back to her GP and requested a referral to a menopause clinic as the lady had suggested, and within four days of beginning HRT, her symptoms subsided.
Finally feeling better in her body, Meg then wondered how many other women were suffering like she had and didn’t know their distress could be caused by menopause or perimenopause. She began researching and was astounded by what she, like many others, didn’t know about what was happening in her own body.
Her next mission was to share her story and help educate women around the world about the huge impact changing hormone levels have on our health and wellbeing.
“I just thought, I’m just going to tell my story, how it is, the way it is. I’m just going to freak as many women out there as possible, just as I was completely freaked out by not knowing any of these statistics; not knowing that one in three women will suffer osteoporosis, one in two women will suffer from a stroke or a heart attack, and one in three women will suffer from a collapsed pelvic floor – all because of the lack of estrogen,” Meg said.
Meg Mathews began sharing her story on Instagram and set up the educational website, Megs Menopause, to help other women who are similarly navigating the rocky terrain that menopause often brings.
I sat down with Meg to find out more about her mission and how we can better understand our bodies and prevent unnecessary suffering, just as she did.
HH: There is so much confusion out there around HRT. How do women get the right information?
MM: There are two types of HRT. There are body identicals and there are synthetic forms of HRT, and although they are both available on the NHS, they are not the same. Unfortunately, most GPs don’t know the difference between the body identical HRT and the synthetic hormones.
So the best thing is to take as much information as you can to your GP. Write down your symptoms, even write down body identical oestradiol gel or patch plus natural progesterone. Go to British Menopause Society as it explains it all there and take screenshots of things so you’ve actually got it with you.
Go in and don’t be afraid of your GP because it is not his fault or her fault they don’t know. They’re probably not being taught it.
HH: Yes, I think gone are the days when we could leave our health responsibility for the doctors, we now have to take it on ourselves. We’ve got to look after number one and make sure that we’re getting the treatment that we need.
MM: That’s right, and don’t wait until it’s too late, do it sooner rather than later. You don’t have to wait until 47, 48, 49 if you are feeling these things. We know that one in 100 women between the ages of 40 and 45 will be suffering symptoms. It’s not going to do you any harm starting to take HRT earlier.
HH: What do you think needs to change to ensure women don’t suffer as we did?
MM: The main thing that needs to change is the level of knowledge of GP’s. It’s all well and good me screaming and shouting, but at the end of the day, everybody is going to go to the GP. Our GPs need to be educated 100 per cent. They either need to be put on refresher courses, or the knowledge needs to be sent to them so they can read up on it.
They need to know what’s going on. In the meantime, take the information to them, don’t just expect they will know.
HH: Your website, Megs Menopause, how is this providing women some of the help they may need?
MM: We help you navigate through it all. You can take the list of symptoms off Megs Menopause to the doctor, and there’s the NICE guideline [National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Menopause: diagnosis and management]on there too so you can lay the foundations for that talk – that you think you are starting the menopause.
Dr Louise Newson’s site, the menopause doctor, has a letter that you can download if you’re not happy with your GP because we tend to give over all the power. Ladies, don’t be frightened about it. If you’re not feeling that you’re getting anywhere with your doctor, then just ask if there is someone else you can see. You want to feel that you’re with someone that you can talk to.
HH: Meg Mathews is now full of energy and you’ve created this amazing movement, what’s changed for you? Do you still have any symptoms?
MM: I have days where I do still get anxiety. I also have sleepless nights now and then too, but I keep my room completely pitch black and I sleep with a mask on, which makes the world of difference. I also put my phone and my iPad outside of my room. I tried to have no EMF or any signals in the room.
HH: I think that that really helps too, even if you’re on HRT, it’s only actually replacing your sex hormones…the more you can do naturally like making your room dark, eating well, getting those nutrients in and the stress management – will all help too.
MM: Yes, stress is a big one. I’ve got to say my cortisol and adrenaline used to be pumping around my body like nobody’s business. We can really start to panic or worry about things and then it gets out of control like a domino effect. So, I’ve learned just to keep things very simple in my day.
HH: Meg, I just wanted to mention your new products, what made you decide to bring out a range of products?
MM: Well, basically I was looking around for products and I had a houseful of teenage kids. I realised, you know what? There’s nothing out there that is pretty and for the menopause women. I didn’t want Femme Fresh or lube laying around.
I also wanted something pH balanced for the vagina, as all our expensive shower gels just dry our vaginas out. As you know, vaginal atrophy is rife within the menopausal women; the lack of oestrogen starts to dry our eyes out, our mouth out, and our vaginas out.
So, I made the Blossom Balm wash and moisturiser so if you sit down all day in your in jeans or tights, you can get home and moisturize your body and you can moisturize your vagina. Everything is vegan and natural, and it is packaged in sugar cane husk so there is no plastic.
The Meno Blend I made because I spent a fortune on vitamins and superfoods. I was adding it up one day and I thought, how can I tell women to go by that? Good quality vitamins are not cheap. So, I went to a laboratory and managed to put all the superfood and every vitamin that you need into one sachet, and it adds up to about a pound per day to take.
HH: And lastly, Meg Mathews, what is your number one tip for women who think they may be experiencing the menopause or perimenopause symptoms?
MM: My number one tip is please share with your family if you are feeling out of sorts. Don’t feel ashamed, they will understand. If you don’t feel like cooking tea, just say so. Talk to your partner if you don’t feel like having sex and you’re not feeling it. I found the minute that I shared with my family, it was just like, my God, why haven’t I done this earlier?
Menopause is going to happen to every single woman in the world. Some women will have symptoms, some won’t, but doesn’t mean you are less just because you do have symptoms.
Find out more about Meg Mathews at: megsmenopause.com and @megsmenopause on Instagram.
And do check out the other fab articles in the new Happy Hormones magazine!