Hot flushes, mood swings, and forgetfulness are just a few of the more obvious signs of the menopause. But are their ways to cope? Lorraine Keane Shares her experience with Magpie.

Q. Do you feel that menopause is a taboo subject? Why do so many women suffer in silence?

Unfortunately in the past menopause was seen as the last and final stage in a woman’s life. You got menopause at 50; you died at 60 or 70. Nowadays more and more people are living to 100…we have more centurions than ever before, so at 50 it is not unrealistic to look forward to 30, 40, maybe even 50 more years of life. So menopause is just another phase in our hormonal development as women.

It starts at puberty, and our hormones are active right through our lives, up and down at various times until we go through menopause.We should look forward to getting through menopause and out the other side in the best way we can. It doesn’t have to be a dirty little secret. Arm yourself with information, help (be it natural and/or medical), talk, support each other, get through it as best you can and look forward to waving goodbye to a lifetime of period pains, mood swings and inconvenience since puberty. I see it as a new freedom.

Q. The average age for menopause is 52 but you had yours much earlier. Did this come as a shock and how did you come to terms with the fact that your fertility was diminishing?

I am not in menopause yet; I have peri menopause which I believe every woman has after the age of 40, yes I think I started suffering in my late 30’s, but that’s very common too. Women just don’t know they are in perimenopause because no one wants to talk about it or admit it. It takes a lot to embarrass me (laugh), and I know that talking about things helps. I am just thrilled that I found out because now I can help myself and hopefully by speaking about it, help other women too.

Q.Menopause side-effects include hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, anxiety and/or depression and abdominal weight gain..How do you know if you’re having an early menopause?

It’s called perimenopause, which is natural and normal. It can take place 5 to 12 years before menopause. I think I was probably 38 when symptoms of disrupted sleep, lower energy level, mood swings/irritability, night sweats started for me. I always felt it was hormone related but didn’t do anything about it because I wasn’t aware of perimenopause and that it was just another stage in a woman’s hormonal development and there was something I could do about it and not suffer in silence.

Q.Presenter Carol Vorderman spoke about her her experience of depression as a result of the menopause admitting there were days she did not see ‘the point in carrying on.’ Did you ever suffer depression as a result of early menopause?

No thank goodness. I know quite a lot about depression because it has affected people close to me. There is a big difference between feeling low and being depressed. Endocrinologist Dr Mary Ryan says there are too many women in perimenopause and menopause given anti-depressants. Feeling low and in bad form for no reason is not depression, it is hormonal and comes from irregular hormonal imbalance caused by the pituitary gland. Cleanmarine Menomin helps to balance hormones ‘naturally’ with a special formula of natural ingredients. It helps me sleep better, I have more energy and I just feel better in myself.

Q. What are your views on Hormone Replacement Therapy?

I think if it works for you and it doesn’t result in any health risks you should take it. Whatever works for you. I would say try the natural route first though. Why not? You’ve nothing to lose and it works for me and a lot of my girlfriends (in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s) who have started taking Menomin on my recommendation. Menomin contains many of the nutrients we should have in our daily diet anyway to help maintain hormonal balance and reduce tiredness and fatigue.

Q.Most women are aware when menopause is approaching—even without a doctor’s diagnosis.But are there tests that can confirm menopause if you’re unsure?

I am not a medical professional, but I believe unless you do a blood test every day of the month for your entire cycle (like they do in America) no blood test on any one given day will give an accurate result. Without this 28-30 day blood test, whether you have any of the symptoms is the only indication of whether your hormones are imbalanced or not, i.e. Perimenopause and then menopause.

Q. How did you deal with this change in your life – as a professional busy woman?

I just got on with it as all women do. Try to keep smiling, count my blessings and get on with it.

Q. How important is it for women to be able to get to a place where we are able to have these conversations openly and without shame?

Very important. Look how far we have come in recent years on other subjects that were taboo like depression. Having the conversation is key. Sharing is caring. That’s why I love the fact that this campaign is called “Let’s talk menopause!”. I’ll talk about anything if it helps anyone….

Q. The symptoms of the menopause include hot sweats, erratic sleep, mood swings – the list goes on. How did it affect you?

All of the above. When I started taking Cleanmarine Menomin, which is available in health Stores and pharmacies, my husband joked ‘Would I change from being Harriet in ‘little house on the prairie’ to Carolyn.’ (Laughs) It’s two capsules a day, not a wand, but lets just say we are all happier because of it (laughs).

Q. What’s next in your life and your career?

I’m about to embark on my annual trip to the developing world – this time Tanzania – with world vision Ireland. Since I left TV3 to be freelance and work more sociable hours to be ‘mum’ more and tv presenter less, I have dedicated around a month of every year to travel to places where help is needed, and fundraising is vital. I then come back to Ireland and share my experiences with the Irish public via my lovely contacts in the Irish media.

It’s not a trip I look forward to, to be honest, they make me very sad, but I know that I can help by going so I don’t feel I have a right to say no. I have been very lucky in my life and career, privileged in fact, so it is important to me to do this and know I am helping those less fortunate than myself.

To donate, please log on to Sponsoring a child for as little as €30 per month not only saves their life and gives them hope for a future, but it can save their entire family. Very little goes a long way in the developing world.