Watch: Carol Vorderman opens up on how she previously felt 'suicidal at times' during menopause
Carol Vorderman has opened up about how she felt 'suicidal at times' during menopause, but that the treatment HRT (hormone replacement therapy) was personally 'wonderful' for her.
The TV and radio star, 61, appeared on This Morning on the 'Menopause Bus' on Wednesday as it stopped off in Cardiff in Wales, one of three stops in the UK.
Presenting segments from the bus throughout the programme, alongside Dr Philippa Kaye, Vorderman spoke about her own experiences to help raise awareness of the natural event that women and people who menstruate experience.
"It started probably in my early fifties," Vorderman said of the menopause.
"I started feeling anxious, and I've never felt anxious in my life, you know I run companies, I do all sorts of different things.
"And I started feeling anxious even about what trousers I was going to wear, was I going to have a tea or coffee?"
The Menopause Bus initiative is intended to get other women talking more about it, including speaking about their symptoms and methods of management to the experts on board.
While everyone's experience is different, Vorderman experienced mental health symptoms rather than physical symptoms.
"That developed into a deep depression... and I mean a deep depression, I felt suicidal at times for many months."
But she said what massively helped her was keeping a note of when her period started in her electronic calendar.
"That helped me analyse that. I started on a bespoke HRT and within 48 hours, literally within two days, I felt back to normal and I have never had a symptom since, never.
"It is wonderful."
The main medicine treatment for menopause and perimenopause is HRT, which replaces the hormones that are at low levels. However, there is no one-size-fits-all, and there are other treatments that can also help you if you cannot, or chose not to, opt for this one specifically.
Perimenopause is used to describe when symptoms start a few months or years before your periods stop, while the menopause is when a menstruating woman or person stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally.
Watch: Carol Vorderman opens up about menopause struggles
Vorderman previously spoke out about the overwhelming mental health symptoms she experienced during her menopause when she backed a campaign to raise awareness of the menopause as a workplace issue in April.
She said she was "shocked" that an estimated one million women have had to give up work because of their struggles with menopause symptoms, hence why there needs to be more support and understanding.
Speaking on her experience, she said, "Hello. Vorders here! Age 61 and post-menopause. But when I was in my early fifties and going through the perimenopause as we mainly do, I didn't have any of the normal symptoms. I didn't have night sweats, I didn't have hot flushes like my friends did and I thought, gosh, I'm one of the lucky ones."
"But, then it hit me and there was one particular year, I think it was 2015, when I started to become anxious and then a deep depression overwhelmed me for about four months," Vorderman added.
"There was nothing going wrong in my life at all. I love my life, I love life, so I couldn’t quite work out what it was. Eventually I realised that it was tied into the menstrual cycle."
Symptoms of the menopause can include hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex, difficulty sleeping, low mood or anxiety, reduced sex drive and problems with memory and concentration. Some can be quite severe and have a significant impact on everyday activities, especially in the workplace.
While menopause is a natural part of ageing that usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age as oestrogen levels decline, around one in 100 also experience it before 40, known as premature menopause.
Vorderman says, "I am shocked to be honest that an estimated one million women have given up work because of these feelings that they have in the workplace, or have reduced their hours at work or given up a promotion at a time in their late 40s and in their 50s when they should just be reaching the pinnacle of their careers."
"It has to stop," she urged.
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Vorderman was speaking as an ambassador for Wellbeing of Women, which launched their Menopause Workplace Pledge campaign in collaboration with HELLO! Magazine and Bupa, dedicated to improving menopause struggles faced at work.
The initiative has drawn support from a range of organisations, including FTSE 100 companies, supermarkets, banks, law firms, schools, universities, department stores and even London Zoo.
By taking the pledge, employers have agreed to provide menopause support to their workforce, putting into place menopause policies, guidance, training and support groups for millions of workers across the country. Wellbeing of Women plans to work with many more employers as the campaign continues.
"I am giving my full support to it and I hope that you can give your support too,” said Vorderman.
To support the campaign, you can visit the Menopause Workplace Pledge.
Watch: Lisa Snowden opens up about her experience of the menopause: 'You just feel so lost'
It's also important to remember that while menopause is still not specifically protected under the Equality Act 2010, if an employee is put at a disadvantage or is treated less favourably because of their menopause symptoms, this could be discrimination on the grounds of one or more protected factors, such as disability, sex, age or gender reassignment.
If you have menopausal symptoms that are affecting you or you're experiencing symptoms before 45, it's worth talking to your GP. They can usually confirm whether you're menopausal, and offer treatments and suggest lifestyle changes if you have severe symptoms that interfere with your daily life.
You can also find support and advice from The Menopause Charity.
To find out more about symptoms and treatments, visit the NHS page on menopause.
Experiencing suicidal thoughts can be complicated, frightening and confusing, but there is someone waiting to help you. See this page on what to expect from talking with the Samaritans.
For more information on how to support someone with suicidal thoughts, including when to seek professional support, please see this Samaritans page.
Whatever you're going through, you can also call the Samaritans now for free, from any phone, at any time, on 116 123 – a friendly voice will be there to listen – or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a reply within 24 hours.
If you think someone is in immediate danger, the quickest way to get help is to call an ambulance on 999.