As a mental health specialist I have always been a keen reader, wanting to keep up to date with the lastest global thinking and innovation around wellbeing and mental health – for the clients I have the privilege of working with and for myself.
Nearly 6 years ago, when I started to realise that I was perimenopausal it was natural for me to turn to books and articles to try to learn. I began to search for easy-to-understand information to help me figure out what was going on with my hormones, my emotions, and my body. And at that point sadly there really wasn’t that many that I found helpful. The articles I did find were either very medical or dry to read, often contradicting each other, or trying to sell me expensive supplements. I found nothing reassuring. They all painted a fairly bleak picture of what to expect. They spoke of ‘the change’. And none that I found even talked about perimenopause! I really wanted something easy to digest. Something that was positive to read, and reassuring. One of my perimenopausal symptoms that I still struggle with some days is not being able to concentrate for as long as I used to. I also struggle with absorbing and remembering large amounts of information. I really needed small, bite size topics written in a non-medicalised manner.
And thankfully this last year in the U.K. has seen an explosion of books, magazine articles, T.V. and radio segments, podcasts, websites and celebrities sharing their personal stories all aiming to inform, inspire, and change the narrative around menopause into something more positive where we can all become well-informed and empowered.
The conversation that is opening up is coming with a range of honest accounts, not shying away from the many different and sometimes embarrassing symptoms we can face. The conversations are also discussing the range of different options we can all have to support ourselves during this transition in our lives. This is amazing to see. And I have devoured this new generation of information. It is amazing to have now strong, passionate female voices speaking up.
Educating myself has allowed me to be back in the driver’s seat of my life after struggling during the first few years of perimenopause. And I want to encourage you to do the same. Take back control by being more informed. And whatever you find helpful please pass it on to other women here in Menopause-ology’s community, other women in your lives, your friends, your work colleagues, your family members so we can empower and encourage each other.
And so first to the must-read books:
This book is currently number 1 on the Sunday Time Bestseller list, and number 1 in the Penguin Life Expert Series.
Dr Louise Newson is the UK’s leading menopause specialist, and she’s determined to help women thrive during the menopause. In Preparing for the Perimenopause and Menopause, Dr Newson demystifies the menopause and shows why every woman should be perimenopause aware, regardless of their age. She draws on new research and empowering client stories from a diverse range of women who have struggled to secure adequate treatment and correct diagnosis. This is a very short and easy to read book, and I have shared my own copy with so many girlfriends!
2. The Perimenopause Solution by @emma.bardwell and @drshahzadiharper
I have only just finished reading this book but has quickly become a favourite of mine and one I recommend frequently. In The Perimenopause Solution, Dr Shahzadi Harper, a medical doctor specialising in women’s health and Emma Bardwell, a registered nutritionist, provide a blueprint to help women find a new balance in this important phase of our lives. This is a holistic and accessible guide combining practical, no-nonsense information on the physical and mental changes to expect, with powerful advice on managing symptoms and nutrition, as what you eat during the perimenopause can dramatically affect your experience of it.
3. Mindful Menopause by Sophie Fletcher @mindful_menopause
I love this book! Sophie Fletcher is a qualified clinical hypnotherapist, doula and accredited supervisor with the National Council for Hypnotherapy, and in this book she helps us by providing incredibly practical self-care exercises that calm the mind and body. And who doesn’t need more calm in their lives! I found this book a very easy read and found her writer’s voice deeply compassionate guiding us through visualisations, affirmations and mindfulness exercises to reduce anxiety and stress, alongside techniques to ease insomnia, weight gain and hot flushes.
4. The New Hot by @megmathewsofficial_ @megsmenopause
I started following Meg Matthews when she popped up on the same Instagram live with a personal trainer who was running free sessions during the beginning of the pandemic, and she mentioned working on a new podcast, and listened with great interest and honestly loved her matter of fact, no nonsense and frank approach to sharing her own story. So when her book came out, I couldn’t resist. The New Hot is her no-holds-barred guide to menopause designed to entertain and empower women in equal measure. It’s full of Meg’s personal insights as well as the latest information and advice from a wide range of menopause and lifestyle experts.
5. The Good Menopause Guide by Liz Earle @lizearleme
This was the first book on menopause that I bought and it was still very early days for me and perimenopause so I found the beautiful lifestyle and food photography alongside Liz’s well-researched advice and 60 menopause-friendly recipes reassuring that things could be ok for me. I am somewhat star-struck by Liz Earle and everything she has achieved in her career and continues to achieve, and her book felt like a friendly companion.
Now I am going to turn my recommendations to podcasts. I have definitely found that on days when my concentration is low and brain fatigue is high and reading anything has been a challenge, I have really enjoyed and learnt so much from the following podcasts:
6. The Dr. Louise Newson Podcast
In the same way I have found her book super helpful, this informative podcast continues to help 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 detrimentally affect your life and not enough women talk about their menopause.
7. Fit n’ Chips Chats @amanda.thebe
This fun and no-nonsense podcast was hosted by Amanda Thebe, fitness and women’s health expert. She talks about her own menopause journey from barely surviving to thriving, and invites guests on from a range of professions and backgrounds to cut through the misinformation, and share accurate information on everything from hormone-relates stress, weight gain, poor energy and lack of sleep. She is a very funny and informed lady.
8. Menopause Whilst Black by Karen Arthur @menopausewhilstblack
Opening a well overdue conversation about diversity in Menopause. Placing the menopausal experience of Black UK based women front and centre by sharing their stories. There is humour, love, and a mixture of personal experiences including that of Karen’s alongside practical ways women have become empowered. I am not the targeted demographic, but listening to Karen has honestly made me feel very different about my own experiences and that of my girlfriends.
9. Menopause: The Good, The Bad, and The Downright Sweaty @dianedanzebrink
Diane Danzebrink is on a mission to improve menopause care and support after her own experience of menopause and the effect that it had on her mental health made her acutely aware of the gaping holes in professional menopause education and public information, advice and support. Diane, a personal therapist, menopause counsellor and agony aunt with professional nurse training in menopause is the founder of Menopause Support CIC, and launched the national #MakeMenopauseMatter campaign in England. She continues to campaign for mandatory menopause education for all GPs and menopause support in every workplace. This podcast is co-hosted by her and Sophie Claus and cover a range of topics in an informed way.
And finally, I love a good app that supports me daily helping me track how I am sleeping, eating, feeling, you name it. I think if designed well, they can be extremely helpful in providing us much needed space to reflect on why we are feeling the way we are day to day. And during the pandemic there has been an explosion of apps all claiming to support our wellbeing and mental health – there are more than 10,000 apps in the Apple and Google Play stores! And so my final recommendation in my top ten resources to support your perimenopause and menopause is the:
10. Balance app brought to you by Dr Louise Newson (yes, she and her team have been very very busy these past few years!). This app is free (downloadable from Apple or Google play stores) and helps you track all your symptoms, access personalised expert content and download a health report. You can also share stories and be part of the online community.
So that’s my favourite reads, listens and app so far on perimenopause and menopause. If you have any other books, podcasts or other resources that you love please share them in the comments and let’s keep the conversation flowing.
Take care, with love to you!