In the UK the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51 and according to the NHS, most women will experience menopausal symptoms – some of which can be quite severe and have a significant impact on everyday activities.
These symptoms can commonly include hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, difficulty sleeping, low mood, anxiety, reduced sex drive and problems with memory.
Despite menopausal symptoms being common, they haven’t been traditionally been discussed openly, owing to a perceived ‘taboo’ around the subject.
Of course, there are women speaking frankly about the menopause in an attempt to change that and here are 11 celebrities who’ve done just that.
The former Sex and The City star revealed to Stella magazine that she and her wife Christine Marinoni experienced the menopause at the same time and praised the ‘freedom’ of the going through it.
“The freedom that comes from no longer being fertile is huge,” she said.
TV host Lorraine has spoken about her difficult experience with the menopause, which left her feeling ‘flat’.
“We were in Spain, and I couldn’t understand why I felt flat. I mean really flat. There was no reason for it. I wasn’t depressed exactly, but there was a sense of not seeing the joy in anything. I’d lost my mojo. It’s like when you’re pregnant and you find yourself sobbing at adverts. And I was tired. I mean, bone-tired. I couldn’t understand it,” she told the Daily Mail.
“Women need to talk about it, and not just sit at home wondering what’s wrong with them, getting depressed. It’s natural!”
Carol didn’t experience hot sweats but was ‘surprised’ by how heavily the menopause affected her emotions.
“I had six months when I was really low. I’m not a depressed person but in that space of time I was genuinely depressed.
“I was lower than I’d ever been in my life. It floored me – absolutely floored me. I was really surprised about that,” she said.
Downton Abbey star Phyllis Logan has spoken about going through the menopause in her 40s, describing the experience as ‘hellish’.
“I unfortunately started [the menopause] when I was in my mid-40s” she said. “So it’s a bit of a thing of the past now. Thank god I managed to cram out a child before that,” the actress said.
“It affects so many people. And the older you get the more people you know are suffering…It’s hellish really” she added.
TV personality Carol has spoken about how the menopause affected her physically.
“You thicken up around the waist… you just change shape… you gain a little more weight but it’s just placed differently. It’s like you almost lose your waistline,” she told the Daily Mail.
“Your chest, your décolletage, sort of wrinkles, and you think ‘What’s that?’
“I think you start to dress differently because you think, ‘Right, that doesn’t make me look at my best… Stick to skinny legs and baggy tops.’”
Meg Matthews has spoken out about being housebound for two months because of menopause-induced anxiety.
“I woke up one morning and it just hit me, I was like, ‘What is going on?’” she said.
While she didn’t experience hot sweats, Meg says she did wake up with anxiety, headaches, migraines, nausea and swollen breasts.
“I was too scared to tell anyone… I just thought I was falling apart,” she said.
The symptom Meg struggled with the most was her social anxiety, which was so severe, she couldn’t leave the house for two months.
Now, she’s an advocate for women talking about their own experiences.
Ulrika Jonsson also experienced mental health issues because of the menopause.
“I thought that this was my time to have my body back after having four children, this is going to be my time… No, God had other plans,” she told the Daily Mail.
“Depression has been a regular feature of my life… and then came the most unimaginable anxiety that I’ve not known before. Anxiety, like, proper panic – at one stage I thought my head was going to explode.”
Ulrika also experienced memory loss.
“That was really scary, being mid-sentence and forgetting the noun or the word.
“I actually took a friend of mine aside and said to her: ‘I’m really worried that I might be getting early onset Alzheimer’s’.
“Why don’t we know about all these things?” Ulrika asks.
Comedian Dawn French told Prima about the importance of remaining resilient in the face of challenging menopause symptoms.
“You can’t pretend it’s not happening; accept it and, if you need help, go and get it.
“Lots of my friends are on HRT patches or pills, and there’s so much out there to assist you,” she said.
“I think you can decide how you are with any experience and how you look at things,” she added.
Loose Women’s Andrea McLean has opened up to Goodhousekeeping.co.uk about how she spoke to her two teenage children about her menopause journey.
“I said to them ‘I might be a bit grumpy, a little bit snappy. I might be a bit forgetful, but it’s fine. It’s all completely normal. In the same way that Amy you’re going to be moody once your periods start and Finlay you are a teenage boy so that’s already a given!’”
“I said to them ‘Everyone’s got hormones, Finlay you’ve got hormones. That’s why you’re nearly 6’1, you’re really hairy, you’re a teenager and your voice has changed and that’s why you suddenly like girls. Amy, your body is changing and you’re starting to mature and you’re growing into a young woman. That’s your hormones.’”
She added: “I said ‘We’re all going through this together’. And they both sort of went ‘Oh okay’ and they were fine with it.”
Actress Gillian Anderson as called for more people to acknowledge the menopause for the huge change that it is.
“It was at the point that I felt like my life was falling apart around me that I started to ask what could be going on internally, and friends suggested it might be hormonal…I was used to being able to balance a lot of things, and all of a sudden I felt like I could handle nothing. I felt completely overwhelmed.
“Peri-menopause and menopause should be treated as the rites of passage that they are. If not celebrated, then at least accepted and acknowledged and honoured,” she said.
Kim Cattrall has been open about her experience with the menopause and wants other women to know they’re not alone.
“Literally one moment you’re fine, and then another, you feel like you’re in a vat of boiling water, and you feel like the rug has been pulled out from underneath you,” she said.
“What I would say, which I’ve said to myself and to girlfriends who’ve also experienced hot flashes, in particular, is that change is part of being human. We evolve and should not fear that change. You’re not alone. I feel that part of living this long is experiencing this, so I’m trying to turn it into a very positive thing for myself, which it has been, in the sense of acceptance and tolerance and education about this time of life,” the actress added.