Women in the limelight are breaking down old-school taboos surrounding menopause with one honest public conversation at a time, and it’s refreshing to say the least.
Late last year, both Gwyneth Paltrow and Susannah Constantine opened up about their own experiences in hopes of dismantling any stigma and misconception over the topic. And now, Loose Women star Andrea McLean has spoken candidly about post-menopause sex.
Andrea, who is an ambassador for Holland & Barrett’s Me.No.Pause campaign – which aims to break the taboos around menopause and support women through it naturally – sparked a frank conversation about something which is often deemed ’embarrassing’ to talk about in an attempt to change the narrative.
Speaking at a Me.No.Pause panel discussion, the TV host said: ’50 per cent of the population are going to go through it – so why are we so afraid to talk about it?’
Back in 2016, Andrea was forced to undergo a hysterectomy following a long battle with endometriosis, and the procedure resulted in the then 46-year-old experiencing early menopause. She has since explained that she was in no way prepared for the instant rush of symptoms that came with menopause and found it difficult to deal with in her day to day life – especially as a TV personality.
‘I used to flash on the telly, and I’d sweat so much I had to wear sanitary pads under my armpits,’ she confessed on the panel talk. ‘When I first told people this, they were horrified. But I don’t care.’
She continued: ‘I interviewed my ultimate teenage crush, Jon Bon Jovi, with the pads under my armpits. At the time I was divorced and thought, well, ‘maybe…’ But then the heavy sweats came – but not for Jon Bon Jovi!’
Andrea’s book Confessions of a Menopausal Woman tackles the journey of menopause and the direct effects it has on your overall life as she shares the way it changed her sex life with husband, Nick Feeney.
In an extract from the book shared with Woman & Home, she writes: ‘Whatever your experience of sex has been throughout your life − good, bad or indifferent − the menopause is one of those times when it most definitely changes. If, like me, you’ve had children, then it’s right up there with post-baby sex − you either get right back in the saddle, or you grit your teeth and bear it while internally raging that this is yet another thing you have to do.
‘I think how we feel comes down to two factors – body and mind – and the two are inextricably linked. Our body changes during the menopause; that goes without saying. It just doesn’t seem to work the way it used to. The parts of us that were normally dry are now soaked (think upper lip, back of neck), and the parts we relied on to get wet are now bone dry (you know where I mean).
‘It leaves us feeling rubbish about ourselves, which of course starts to play havoc with our minds. How are we supposed to feel sexy when our bodies are falling apart, we have no energy, our libidos have dropped through the door, and everything our partners say and do makes us want to punch them on the nose?’
Andrea went on to say that she and her husband had persevered through the ‘fumbling, wincing, grimacing’, and got back to a healthy place in their sex life – ‘but if I can give you one piece of advice? Talk about the state of your sex life; don’t just put up with problems,’ she concluded.
‘Sex is supposed to be something that makes us feel good and it has the potential to be one of the most emotionally connecting experiences you can share.’