Celebrity Health - Michelle Heaton: My Menopause Journey

Singer Michelle Heaton shares her own menopause story and offers some tips for coping with the symptoms

Former Liberty X singer Michelle Heaton underwent an elective double mastectomy in 2012 and a hysterectomy in 2014 after discovering that she is a carrier of the BRCA2 gene mutation, which gave her an 85 per cent chance of getting breast cancer and a 40 per cent chance of getting ovarian cancer. As a result of the hysterectomy, Michelle went into surgical menopause at the age of just 34. Now aged 38, the mum of two shares her experience and the strategies she used to cope.

Tell us a bit about your own experience of going through the menopause.

Michelle: Well, I think everyone’s experience is different – and it’s an ongoing thing. My initial symptoms were anxiety and depression and it took me a while to realise why I was feeling that way. Lately I’ve been suffering from insomnia, which is really tough. It affects your whole day and mood.

What strategies did you use to cope with the physical and emotional symptoms?

Michelle: I think my exercise routine really helps. Even if I only manage half an hour, I do something at least five days a week. I need it. I need the time for myself and to release the happy hormones!

Did you take any natural approaches, for example dietary changes, taking vitamins or natural remedies?

Michelle: Yes. I try and keep my carb intake low and I eat a lot of green veg and protein. I take a multivitamin and I also take Femarelle, a natural supplement aimed at women with the menopause. It’s unique in that there are three different tablets for the three stages of menopause, which I think is important. I will take all the help I can get and if it’s natural then that’s even better!

Do you try to follow a healthy diet?

Michelle: Yes, I try to as much as I can. I live by the 80/20 rule. When I’m at home I eat healthily as it’s easier to when I can cook, but when I’m out for dinner or on holiday I’ll treat myself. I’ll choose healthier options, but if I want a dessert, a glass of wine or a pizza then I’ll have one!

What do you eat during a typical day?

Michelle: I’ll start off with something protein heavy – maybe an egg white omelette. Nothing wrong with yolks but I tend to get my fat from the cheese I’ll add. For lunch I might have some chicken and vegetables – either as a salad or a stir fry – or what’s available if I’m working. For dinner I’ll maybe have some fish and vegetables, or I’ll make a cottage pie and I’ll top it with mashed vegetables rather than potato. For a snack or after exercise I may have a protein bar mid-morning with a coffee. I like a glass of wine or two a few evenings a week. If I go out I love sushi.

What advice would you give to other women who are going through the menopause?

Michelle: I think it would be to learn that your journey will be different to others. Don’t feel that you can’t own your experience and learn how you deal with it best. Talk, talk and talk! Don’t keep in how you’re feeling. Let your family and friends know or speak to a helpline. Depression is a common symptom and can be like a cloud that just won’t leave. It’s something all women will go through if they reach that age – don’t be afraid or ashamed. I hope those days have gone where women didn’t feel they could talk about it!

To find out more about Femarelle® and the #takingbackcontrol campaign, visit www.femarelle.co.uk

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