Leading menopause expert and GP, and founder of The Menopause Charity and free menopause support app called balance, Dr Louise Newson, hosts the menopause and perimenopause information podcast, helping women receive unbiased, evidence-based, and holistic advice and treatment.
Every woman‘s experience of menopause is different and some may not find it a pleasurable or positive experience. Having menopause symptoms can really affect your life in a detrimental way and not enough women talk about their menopause. There is still much uncertainty about what the menopause means and how it can be managed and I hope my podcasts will empower you with the necessary information to make informed decisions regarding any treatment and lifestyle changes, and helps you turn your menopause into a positive experience that doesn‘t negatively impact your life.
For the latest free, unbiased, evidence-based information and advice visit www.balance-menopause.com, formally known as My Menopause Doctor.
179 - Advancing menopause care after breast cancer with Dr Sarah Glynne
GP and menopause specialist, Dr Sarah Glynne, joins Dr Louise Newson on the podcast this week to discuss menopause care after breast cancer. The experts share more about the breast cancer steering group established as part of the Newson Health Menopause Society that is working towards producing a consensus statement to support clinicians and improve the quality of life for menopausal women who have had breast cancer.
Dr Sarah Glynne discusses the importance of individualising the risk-benefit ratio for every woman when making decisions around treating the cancer and weighing this up with treating menopausal symptoms. Sarah emphasises the importance of talking through the implications of each of these considerations using a shared decision making process.
Sarah’s three tips for women after breast cancer:
Understand the risks and benefits of the drugs used to treat your breast cancer and what this means for you personally. Ask your oncologist for more information about your own breast cancer, if you are not sure. You can then use the PREDICT tool online for understanding more about your own cancer risks and what additional benefits any treatments may offer.
Read about non-hormonal options to help your menopause symptoms and cancer recovery such as diet, yoga, or acupuncture. Try various approaches to find the ones that may bring some benefit to you. Vaginal moisturisers and lubricants may also help and these do not contain hormones, and there are other medications your GP may be able to prescribe for some of your symptoms such as hot flushes.
If your menopause symptoms are severe and your quality of life is suffering, ask your clinician to explain the risks for you regarding your cancer prognosis if you decide to take HRT, versus the risks to your quality of life and long-term health if you choose not to take HRT. If you have genitourinary symptoms of soreness and dryness, vaginal hormones are very safe for improving these symptoms. Read information on the balance website and the book ‘Oestrogen Matters’ by Avrum Bluming, and make a choice that is right for you through discussion with your clinician using a shared decision making process.
178 - My story of ‘treatment resistant depression’, ketamine and HRT
In this episode, Sam shares her moving account of the journey she has been on for the last five years when, after a miscarriage and losing her father, things started to unravel and her mental health suffered. A difficult few years followed spent navigating depression, trialling several antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications, and seeking help from psychiatrists to try and understand what was going on. At the time, Sam believed she was years away from becoming menopausal and through her own research sought treatment privately in the form of ketamine due to her desperation to feel better and function again. Through learning more about hormones and their effects on the brain and mental health, Sam has recently begun to take HRT and feels she has started on a more positive path to health and stability.
Sam’s three tips for those struggling with mental health:
Try and be assessed by a menopause specialist before accepting a diagnosis, medication or treatment from a psychiatrist – it may save you a lot of unnecessary suffering.
If you do start taking HRT, be patient. It can take time and the dose and type may need tweaking before you feel the beneficial effects.
Become as well informed as you can about your hormones and the menopause from good sources online. And talk to other women – you’re not alone.
177 - Families, relationships and the power of connection with Julia Samuel
Human beings are hard wired to adapt to unexpected life events but how do we manage this process alongside our natural need to control? Psychotherapist, Julia Samuel MBE has been interested in this question throughout her 30 year career supporting families with grief and bereavement. Julia founded the charity Child Bereavement UK and has worked extensively with families in the NHS and private sector as well as writing books on grief, family, and change.
In this episode, the experts discuss human nature and our response to adverse life events and times of transition. Julia speaks of the importance of love and connection with others and about the impact menopause can have on relationships, family life and work.
Julia’s tips for helping your relationship:
Be aware of how you’re communicating in your relationship and look at what has changed
Try and form a regular habit like going for a walk together to talk and listen to each other and make time to reflect
Be aware of your own inner critical voices and turn down the volume on those. Turn up the volume of self-compassionate voices and practice being kinder to yourself
Remember connection with others is key throughout our lives
For more information about Julia Samuel and her books, visit juliasamuel.co.uk
For support and information if you have experienced the loss of a child or care for a grieving child, visit www.childbereavementuk.org
176 - Introducing new Chief Medical Director, Dr Magnus Harrison
Newson Health has recently appointed a Chief Medical Director to ultimately help more women improve their health. In this episode, Dr Magnus Harrison shares a whistlestop tour through his professional life so far as a Consultant in Emergency Medicine via New Zealand, Australia, and Manchester and his experiences in leadership at Stoke on Trent in the wake of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust’s ‘adverse mortality’ investigation. Via Harvard, USA and India, Magnus then oversaw the merger of Burton upon Trent and Derby NHS Trusts before the hardest time of his career to date – the COVID 19 pandemic where 8 staff members from his organisation lost their lives.
Magnus discusses with Louise what he hopes to bring to the medical leadership and management of Newson Health and the key values that underpin his mission.
Magnus’s aims for his leadership at Newson Health:
I will be humble and led by professional curiosity to learn how to help more women
I aspire to be a compassionate leader, will listen to understand, empathise and ask how I can help
Kindness is essential and should underpin all that we do.
175 - Mood, mental health and hormones with Dr Clair Crockett
The focus of this year’s World Menopause Day is cognition and mood. In this episode, Dr Louise Newson talks to Dr Clair Crockett, a GP and menopause specialist with an interest in mood, mental health and hormones. Clair’s interest in the topic stems from her own experience of escalating anxiety, low mood and intrusive thoughts in the premenstrual phase of her cycle during her mid-to-late 30s. Through her own research, she looked for ways to help her symptoms including through lifestyle changes, supplements and antidepressants. While these all helped some aspects of her mental health, it wasn’t until she began taking HRT that the premenstrual mental health symptoms eased.
The experts discuss the importance of considering hormones when helping women experiencing mental health problems and outline some of the ways they are working to improve education about menopause and mental health amongst healthcare professionals.
Clair’s tips to women with mental health symptoms in perimenopause and menopause:
Track your symptoms and periods, the balance app is a good way to do this. This will make it easier to relay to your healthcare professional when you see them. Ask who has an interest in women’s health in your GP practice so you can see the most appropriate person.
Tackling mental health in perimenopause and menopause is multi-faceted, it can take a while to get it right through a combination of taking HRT, your food choices, exercise, and doing work that inspires you.
Make peace with your body image and don’t let it stop your progress.
If you’d like to read more about Clair’s personal experience of mental health and hormones, you can read her story here.
174 - World Menopause Day Special with Dr Louise Newson
On World Menopause Day, Dr Louise Newson has recorded this special edition of her podcast on her own. She describes her medical career to date and her reasons for doing what she is doing. She discusses her interest as an undergraduate and postgraduate and also talks about her lack of menopause training during this time.
Louise has a medical degree and also a degree in pathology which is even more relevant when thinking about the menopause as a systemic condition in which the low hormones, especially estradiol, affect all the cells and organs in the body. During this podcast she talks openly about her reasons for setting up a private menopause clinic and how the clinic has enabled her to finance the free balance menopause app and also the free Confidence in the Menopause education programme for healthcare professionals.
She clearly states this is the beginning of her journey and she has much more work to do. It will be very interesting to watch and see how the next year unfolds for menopausal women.
Her three take-home tips are
Work as a team - communicate with others and share your knowledge and experience
Ensure information you receive is evidence based - there is plenty of really good quality information both on the free balance app and the balance-menopause.com website
Be positive – working together to make a change will enable women to have better future health