As World Menopause Month aims to raise awareness of menopause symptoms and end taboos, Suzanne Baum chats to TV presenter Cherry Healey about her own experience. The 41-year-old, who has recently been diagnosed as perimenopausal, tells us how she uses fitness to manage her symptoms, before explaining why she has teamed up with Holland & Barrett to help other women who may be suffering in silence.
What perimenopause symptoms have you been suffering with?
Cherry Healey: ‘Gosh, about a year ago I began to suffer from horrible anxiety, something I have never had before. I would find myself waking up around 4.15am and having the most terrible catastrophic thoughts. I’d be worrying over everything and thinking bad things were going to happen and I couldn’t get back to sleep!
‘I was actually really worried that I was losing the plot. And my mood was low which is not like me, as I am normally a happy level-headed person. That hugely impacted my confidence. It took me a while to figure out what on earth was wrong with me until I learnt it was probably all related to perimenopausal symptoms. And once I knew that was the case, it helped me understand what was going on in my body.’
Does exercise help you manage your perimenopause symptoms?
Cherry Healey: ‘Honestly, keeping fit has always been something I have done as I absolutely love sport but at this time of my life, it has been vital to me. It actually really helps alleviate my stressful symptoms and over thinking. I have also changed how I train over the years. Although I still swear by cardio, I only do it twice a week now, instead of four times like I did when I was younger.
‘Exercise really calms me down and I go into an almost meditative state of mind. I also do a lot more stretching and I’d really recommend it as it helps your muscles relax and for me, enables me to get a good night’s sleep. I also do yoga and I know a lot of people swear by weights, particularly as we get older, so I do weightlifting too. My body shape has started to change and I feel like stretching, cardio and weights is doing good things for me and really making me feel better. I also take supplements too which help my perimenopausal anxiety.’
Does keeping fit benefit your sleep?
Cherry Healey: ‘Absolutely. If I am very active in the day and work out, I sleep so much better. I tend to do no exercise on weekends as it is so busy with the kids and then I realise I have terrible quality of sleep. So, if I do a cardio workout and get my heartbeat up it really does help me a lot. I’ve also reduced my coffee and wine intake and feel so much better.’
You have teamed up with Holland & Barrett to support their new initiative to offer advice to women about the menopause. What is that partnership all about?
Cherry Healey: ‘I am so thrilled to be a part of this initiative with Holland & Barrett, which offers consultation rooms across the country where women can freely discuss their symptoms with a trained menopause adviser.
‘In my career as a TV presenter, I have seen the power of conversation in such an acute way. Conversations can change people’s lives and the conversation around menopause is so powerful. This campaign is so effective as it is allowing women to be listened too. Pause and listen is what we are saying and we want to make this service non-patronising and as accessible and practical as possible. Unfortunately, the menopause is still a taboo subject, but I am so over the moon the conversation around it has erupted.’
To help support women who are still suffering in silence, Cherry Healey has teamed up with Holland & Barrett to launch The Pause & Listen Pledge. For more details, visit hollandandbarrett.com.