World Menopause Day is held every year on 18th October. It’s a great chance to have conversations about what the menopause entails, so we asked journalists Trish Halpin and Lorraine Candy from the Postcards From Midlife podcast to tell us how they approach the topic.
We started Postcards from Midlife as part of our mission to help women make the most of their midlife years. As former glossy magazine editors we’re seasoned journalists with decades of fashion, beauty and life-style knowledge. We’re lucky that so many women have followed us throughout our careers and between us we have edited all the biggest selling magazines: Elle, Cosmo, Sunday Times Style, Marie Claire and Red. And now our loyal audience have become our podcast listeners too.
Nothing is off limits in our conversations with midlife celebrities and interviews with experts. We tackle the highs and lows that affect us all at this life stage. We talk about everything from sleep and sex to health and wellbeing and parenting hormonal, angst-ridden teenagers as well as the perils of peri-menopause with high-profile, midlife women such as Trinny Woodhall, Anna Richardson, Mary McCartney, Davina McCall, Elizabeth Hurley, Caitlin Moran, Marian Keyes, and Sadie Frost to name a few.
We’ve also had some respected and trusted experts on the show, sharing advice women are finding hard to access elsewhere. These have included: leading menopause specialists Dr Louise Newson and Dr Shahzadi Harper; international breast cancer surgeon Dr Michael Baum; NHS sexual health specialist Dr Paula Briggs; psychologists Julia Samuel and Philppa Perry, and nutritionist Jane Clarke. We were the first podcast to reveal the lack of knowledge about peri-menopause and the first to explore the facts about the link between hormone deficiency and mental health in midlife.
We’re determined to change the narrative around what it means to be a woman over 40 or 50 today. After all, we are Generation X, we grew up listening to The Smiths, we went to see The Stone Roses at the Hacienda and holidays would be clubbing in Ibiza. We laugh a lot on the show, in fact one listener called us the ‘Menopausal Morecombe and Wise’!
Connecting with our listeners is hugely important to us, it’s something we’ve always done as magazine editors, so we set up a Facebook Group alongside the podcast and now have thousands of members. We share ideas and experiences, funny midlife stories, and give words of support and encouragement for anyone going through a particularly tough time. We’ve had many women thanking us who didn’t know they were going through peri-menopause and thought they were seriously losing the plot – even contemplating suicide. Others were going to leave their marriages or give up their jobs. From what they’ve learned through the podcast they were able to go to their GP to ask for the right help – HRT – and not be fobbed off with antidepressants, which unfortunately is what a lot of doctors mistakenly do to two thirds of women seeking support at this age.
It’s a great feeling to know that we’re changing the ‘hot flush’ jokey narrative about menopause and putting an end to the shame that midlife women can feel about a natural process that will affect every single one of them at some point in their life. We’re also putting an end to the image of older women being grey-haired cardigan wearers, which is so often the default position of the media in the UK.
We’re now working with brands to tell a more honest and compelling story around midlife and menopause, as well as companies to devise menopause policies and support staff going through this life stage. Another initiative we have been part of is supporting Carolyn Harris MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group who came on the show to talk about her Private Members Bill to provide free HRT for women in England, to bring it in line with the rest of the UK.
The Menopause Revolution is happening – and Postcards From Midlife is leading the charge!