Ordinarily Extraordinary - Conversations with women in STEM

104. STEMSkills: Menopause & Your Career - Heather Jackson

April 26, 2023 Kathy Nelson Episode 104
Ordinarily Extraordinary - Conversations with women in STEM
104. STEMSkills: Menopause & Your Career - Heather Jackson
Show Notes Transcript

Heather Jackson, co-founder of GenM, shares how GenM works with brands to provide awareness and branding of products that support women in menopause. GenM also provides research, awareness and resources for women going through menopause. Heather is the former CEO of An Inspirational Journey, the company behind several programmes, events and online activities including The Balanced Business Forum (formerly known as The Women's Business Forum and now recognised as the world’s first gender balanced leadership conference).

What do we talk about in this episode?

Heather shares how she came to start GenM and the importance of normalizing the conversation around menopause and creating brand awareness, signage, etc. around products that support women during perimenopause and menopause.

  1. Menopause does not have to be something we suffer through. Women are typically at the best part of their life when they go through menopause. We should be swinging from the chandeliers during this time - not suffering through it.
  2. Menopause is the new vegan.
  3. We need to normalize conversations about menopause in society as well as in the workplace.
  4. Menopause affects everybody. Not just women. Almost everyone knows someone, works with someone, or lives with someone going through menopause. We are all affected.
  5. The highest suicide rate and divorce rate for women is during the age of menopause.
  6. Nutrition and exercise are critical in menopause care.
  7. There are ways to treat menopause symptoms with Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) or naturally.

Music used in the podcast: Higher Up, Silverman Sound Studio


GenM's Mission - We exist to incite a first-of-its-kind movement to make the menopause a more positive experience for everyone, and introduce forward-thinking brands, organisations and employers to this new, commercially attractive market in a responsible, ethical way.

Why? Because there are 15.5 million menopausal consumers in the UK alone. It’s a market desperate for better understanding, support and representation. Now is the time to purposefully unite, so we can all cater for, better support and connect with this incredibly underserved audience.

Working closely with progressive organisations, we can all use GenM’s ongoing groundbreaking research, knowledge and experience to better understand the 48 symptoms, provide better support to all those in menopause and signpost them to products and services that already exist.

The Invisibility Report - The findings of this report are the foundations for everything that GemM as the Menopause Partner of Brands stands for. We are here to collectively unite responsible brands, organisations and employers, to improve the menopause experience, normalise the conversation, and stop those in menopause being overlooked at home, at work and across society. (https://gen-m.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/106847-Gen-M-Invisibility-Report-082.pdf)

Raising Awareness of the Menopause One Campaign At a Time Men: Misunderstanding Menopause is a national campaign helping to raise awareness of the menopause and its symptoms amongst men. (https://gen-m.com/shattered/)

Maryon Stewart BEM, with more than 29 years of experience of study and expertise, is known as the pioneer of the natural menopause movement.  She has written 28 self-help books and was awarded the British Empire Medal in 2018.(https://maryonstewart.com)

Tera Greene - Kickstart Your Confidence (https://2kyw5krv.pages.infusionsoft.net/?affiliate=0)

Episode 104 – Menopause & Your Career

Kathy: [00:00:00] Welcome to ordinarily Extraordinary Conversations with Women in STEM. I'm your host, Kathy Nelson, an electrical engineer who loves to hear. And share stories of other women in STEM. Today's episode is a STEMSkills episode, which is where we talk about different issues and soft skills, but today's episode is a bit different.

We are talking about menopause and your career, and before you turn me off, and you may think that this does not apply to you because you may not be going through menopause, you are most likely affected. Because someone you work with or know or live with, probably is, and it's a very impactful time of life, which we'll get into in this episode.

So please continue listening because today's guest is working to change that. It wasn't until recently that I [00:01:00] even thought about menopause in my career in that intersection, but a couple of months ago, I was asked to participate in a virtual summit called “Kickstart your confidence” with Tara Greene. Check it out, which was focused on menopause and work. And while my session, I mostly talked about my experience as a, as a woman in STEM, it did get me thinking about this intersection because I'm in it and it turns out it lasts for quite a while, like 12 to 15 years.

And I'm finding out there's a whole lot that I don't know about it. So, what do I do when I don't know something? I find people who. A lot about those things, which is how I found today's guest, Heather Jackson. Heather is a co-founder of GenM, a company who is Changing attitudes and normalising the conversation, GenM is empowers brands to better cater for menopausal customers and employees; ultimately improving the health and happiness of millions with menopause-friendly products, services, signposting, workplace policies and marketing campaigns.

As Heather says, menopause is the new vegan. I hope you enjoy today's conversation.

Kathy: Hi. 

Good to see you today.

Heather: Yeah, likewise.

Kathy: I don't know that I have been so excited about talking to a podcast guest especially about this topic, but it has been so prevalent in my life lately. I do this podcast about women in STEM and was asked to be on a webinar that had to do with [00:03:00] menopause.

And I honestly, until that point had not thought about the intersection of work and menopause. And then shortly after that I was having a conversation with two of my women in STEM friends talking about menopause. And I'm like, oh my gosh. I feel like when things like keep showing up, I'm like, this is something I talk about also, I am like in the midst of menopause.

And so, I changed some hormones that I was taking and now I'm back to having hot flashes or as I know that you could call them on your website flushes. So, I'm going to want to talk about that too. And so, I just I feel like I'm like just in the midst of all of this and so I am really excited to talk to you.

And I do also want to say that when we did our intro call, you said three things that were super interesting to me about menopause. That made me even more excited to talk about this. One, you said that menopause can last up to 12 to 15 years. That's terrifying to me. 

Heather: Yeah, 

Kathy: Like I had no idea. Secondly, you talked about that menopause [00:04:00] shouldn't be something we suffer through, that we should be swinging from the chandeliers.

I want to swing from the chandeliers.

Heather: Don't we all?

Kathy: you also talked about how many women are, or most women are at the height of their careers when we start going through menopause.

Heather: Or at the best life, you know, with our skills and experience. We might not be at the height of our careers, but we're at the best of our friendship groups, our experience, our intelligence, and our, the skills that we've got. yeah. Uh, not every woman's at the height of the career, but every woman in menopause should be at a good point in their life the majority of, of ways that we've got choice over. 

Kathy: Well, And I think what's so interesting, depressing, frustrating, no one knows anything about this. We as women don't know anything about this. How is that, how is it that this is affects half over half the population? And we don't even know what's going on with our bodies. Like, So I was talking with a couple of my friends, um, you know, prepping for this, and I'm like, okay, are there any questions that you have can, you know, [00:05:00] ask and things that I might not be thinking of?

And we're all like, we don't know anything. How is that? So, I love, I absolutely love the work that you're doing and the company that you co-founded. I think the work that you're doing is so important. I to like, talk about one thing that can like keep as a thread as we go through our conversation. This being a podcast for women in STEM and about women in stem, 

Heather: Yep, 

Kathy: us work in very male dominated fields, which I think makes having conversations that include menopause even more challenging. Not talked about work like work, uh, like ever and how do we change that? So that's just something like, I just want to keep in mind from 

Heather: yep. 

Kathy: this viewpoint of like, how do we normalize these conversations and, and things like that.

So, thank you so much 

Heather: Yep. 

Kathy: for being on the podcast. Thank you so much for the work that you're doing and bringing this to light. I was going through your website and reading the invisibility [00:06:00] report yesterday.

Heather: There is a bit of a no shit Sherlock moment when you read that. Isn't there really?

Kathy: but also, like how is it not talked about? How is it not known? 

Heather: Well, Let's discuss all that on it and, um, definitely I'll bring in the stem, but equally I just want to raise it as a societal issue, that it's not a women's issue and it's not a workplace issue per se. Cause actually, even if we start it off in the workplace, if we're not getting the same support or understanding back at home or with our friendship groups, it's a waste of times.

Do you know what I mean? again, let's just see not only what brands can do and what employers can do, but what we as women in society can do to change this cause we've all got a part to play in it. So if that's all right with yourself. 

Kathy: Yeah, absolutely. Let me ask you, how did you come to start GenM? Like what was then, what was the, starting point for you and the triggering point for you?

Heather: Well, Great question there Kathy, and thank you very much for having me here. GenM was started way back three years ago as a concept because three [00:07:00] years ago I'd cashed in on my business, my previous business, which was all about gaining in and encouraging more women to take their careers through from the middle pipeline upwards, because I actually believed it wasn't about the lack of women at the top, it was about the fact that we weren't nurturing and incubating them in middle talent. 

Talent. And so, I built a business with 30,000 women, 150 global companies. And then on top of it, I built the world's first gender balance leadership conference. So equality of opportunity has been my big purpose all through my life, and it wasn't something I wanted to set out on, but actually I'm like, anything, if I've got a niche and no one's sorting it out, let's not sit back and learn about it.

Kathy: Mm-hmm. 

Heather: about it. So, I cashed in on that business and I was ready to have my Thelma and Louise swinging from the chandelier. Me time, guilt-free. My kids had all left home. I'd been a single mother all through my business. My kids had all left home for the right reasons and were well happy. I got money in the bank, and I was ready to Kilimanjaro and base camp Everest, and it was guilt-free me [00:08:00] time.

I deserved it. And Six months into my time out, I started on some, um, on non-executive positions, I started to feel really bad. I started to feel really lethargic and fatigued, and I got, you know, I was emotional, like breaking down in the supermarket if they hadn't got the right strawberry yogurt that I wanted.

Pathetic and, you know, and, and again, aches and pains where I didn't even think I'd got them. And, you know, and thought that I was just losing my purpose. That even my kids had thought, this is all because you've stopped running in life, mom, you've always, you know, you've had your businesses and you've been driven, and you've lost your purpose.

And I was going, I haven't lost my purpose, guys. This was my purpose to get to this point in life. Don't actually surprise me on this. Having gone nine times to the doctors I was on first name term basis with receptionist at the doctors. You know, it was like having not been for years.

I was suddenly regularly there. And anyway, I met her with a good friend Sam semester, who is now my co-founder. And she said, Heather, you look awful. I [00:09:00] was expecting this woman to come through the door for dinner, and you look tired, you look shattered, you've lost loads of weight. I said, oh, honestly, I don't feel myself.

So, she said, come out to Portugal. I'm working out there. So, I got on a plane and went to Portugal and it's there that she said, Heather, I don't think you because the doctors had suggested I go on antidepressant. She said, I think you're perimenopausal. Now I hadn't even heard the 

Kathy: Mm-hmm. 

Heather: And she went back to work, and I laid on the sunbed and I Googled perimenopause. And my God, it was eye-opening. It was like such a relief to realize I'd got like 32 of the 48 symptoms. It was like, yep, that's me. I'm not dying. I'm perimenopausal. she came back and I said, oh my God, Sam, I'm perimenopausal.

Let's celebrate this. I know now what's wrong with me? And she said, well, that's where it all gets tough now, Heather, because you want to see what got out there to support. You know, I went, I've got two more days in Portugal. I'll have sorted this before I get back. I'll have found out what I need, what I need to do, and how to move forward.

And she said, good luck with [00:10:00] that. Anyway, two days later, I'm sat on the sunbed back with her and I said, Sam, we've got to do so much more for perimenopause. I said, I'm an intelligent woman who actually has controlled all her life from the exams she took to the career she took to when I had my children.

I said, I've been knocked sideways by this bus that I didn't see coming. That being perimenopause, how on earth can we stop other women doing this? Because I'm overwhelmed by what I'm finding on the internet, what I'm not finding. And I said, and actually with my hot sweats, I thought, actually, I'll look for control bedding. And you know, I felt like I was on the deep dark web by the time I'd finished searching for it. So, she said, well, feel exactly the same. I feel brands are letting us down. All of a sudden, she said, you're going to feel for the next few years, invisible, transparent, no one's interested in you.

Brands that you've actually thought would have your back, don't have your back. She was working at Innocence as an executive, so I said, let me go back to England. Let me look into this and see. Surely there's something [00:11:00] that's out there that could be better for us and actually a site or something.

Anyway, long story short, there wasn't. So, I went back to Sam and said, Actually, I think we're needed back as a purposeful business here. I think there's something we can do, Anna said. But before we do it, Sam, you are a big scientist and you've always based your stuff on research. You and I have done it on the back of a fag pack.

Why we think that women feel invisible, why we feel let down, but we need, as she agreed, we needed the research. So, we actually invested our own money into the invisibility report. We went out to 4,000 women to see how they felt during this period of life. And actually overwhelmingly, 88% felt let down.

They felt invisible. They felt they wanted better sign posting for menopause. They wanted better support and helped to understand the symptoms mean our researcher, that most women could only name between three and five symptoms when there's 48. So how on earth 

Kathy: could name one, seriously, One. 

Heather: well, 

Kathy: The hot flashes or 


Heather: and that's, 

Kathy: it.

Heather: yeah.

So again, [00:12:00] we realized that. There was a lot to change on this. Raising the awareness of normalizing the conversation. three, actually, you know, I was 51 at the time, I wanted to be in a generation of women that looked and wanted to swing from the chandeliers. And actually, women in their thirties looked and went, if that's 51, I want a piece of it.

Not, oh my God, if that's 51, Maurice now. And, uh, you know, and I, and I say that in the most humorous way rather than the serious way. And so actually at that stage, we went out and we did our research and oh, that research came back, and we realized then that two perimenopausal women, business, women with great connections could do didly squat themselves to change the global rhetoric Around menopause and how we look at it. But actually, if we united the biggest brands in the recognize that, you know, there's an audience of underserved women, 1.5 billion women by 2030 will be in the menopause globally. Surely, we could actually ask them with their reach of consumer, [00:13:00] colleague, partnerships.

They had a great opportunity not only serve this audience better a purposeful way, but actually make societal change by raising the awareness and building on that. Sam and I set out to do GenM, the menopause partner of brands. We were going to ignite brands to recognize that. If I give a quote now, and it's the same for America, more or less .4% of the population of the UK are vegan. Now, I don't have a problem with vegans. My daughters one. But actually, you look at how much money spent on it, I'm understanding a vegan signposting, vegans marketing to them development, you know, an even customer experience. You won't put a meat counter next to a vegan counter.

That will just be a no, so, that's 4% of the UK population, which is very similar in America as well. That is a life choice. We've all got friends and family who've been vegans one minute and not another. You know, you can come in and out of being a vegan. It is your life choice. Well [00:14:00] Put it this way, 20% of the population in the world at any one time is menopausal.

Where's our sign posting? Where's our customer experience? Where's our understanding of us? Where's our product development? Where's our signage? To, to products that can help support our journey. So, we decided to create GenM and within months of launch, since a year, last October, we've now got nearly 90 brands in the UK on board with us.

They're united and committed to not only recognize and serve menopause better but help raise the awareness of it as a societal issue. Because this isn't a female issue, it's not a gender issue, it's not a medical issue, nor is it a workplace issue per se. It's some of all parts. But unless we get society thinking that this is a life transition, it's not an illness.

It's not a disease. The highest grown working population at the moment is women over 40. Well, you know, I, I don’t know about you Kathy, but I don't want to live longer and not healthily, 

Kathy: Right. 

Heather: you know, [00:15:00] forget that one. I want to have the best life and our GenM research showed that 85% of women will say their menopause is not that bad.

to me, not that bad suggests it could be better. So as a society of 21st century women, the majority of those entering menopause are going into menopause, prepared for not that bad, but not that great experience when actually we need to change the rhetoric and give them the ability to actually have a great menopause.

Why should we be settling for not that bad? And so, again, working with these brands, and I'll tell you more about them in a minute, what we do with them and how we're igniting them, and the, the big game change that just released this month to our partners, the M sign, which will be as recognizable in the next five years as the vegan.

Kathy: Hm. 

Heather: So again, really exciting. But, once again, GenM is about collaboration. We're not an activist group in the UK. We're coming out to America by the [00:16:00] end of the year. 

Kathy: Oh good. I was going to ask about that.

Heather: We've got a global model coming together, but we're not an activist and we're not a movement. We're because actually only change can be made properly on any subject never mind menopause.

If we all collaborate together, we need men involved. We need women involved. We need every gender involved. We need our and our kids involved as well of understanding. But we need the retailers, the brands, the manufacturers. We need society and the isn't one of society that does, isn't impacted by menopause because. Menopause impacts directly or indirectly, whether you know, and I'll go with the UK stats at the moment, but they're very, again, similar to the USA that the highest rate of relationship breakdowns is when a woman is in menopause. The highest rate of suicides is the same for women, and the highest rate of women leaving the workplace is starting to be this age group.

So don't anyone say it doesn't have an impact on you, whether you're a work [00:17:00] colleague, whether you're a whether you're a family member, financially, emotionally, and behaviorally. If we can't, um, as a society, support those in menopause, help them control it better. and understand it better. You know, we are actually not allowing women to thrive and be the best versions of themselves, but it will have an economic impact on, on us and let's be honest, if we allow women to thrive, the world thrives. We know it. You know it, Kathy, and that's where it's at. 


Kathy: So, you talk about it not being not that bad and I'm like, I think that depends on you like what you're going through at that immediate time, right? Like if you're in the middle of like a puddle of sweat in your bed 

It is that bad. 

Heather: But unfortunately, how we've brought ourselves up through society and the generations we as 

Kathy: Oh, for sure. 

Heather: we say it's bad. that's one of the biggest, biggest parts of this because obviously, you know, the media have been showing quite really well at how debilitating some of the symptoms can be.

If you are overall, if you're anxious, if you're depressed with it, if you're having bad [00:18:00] sleep This all impacts how we live our lives. And equally the consequence if we don't get the right food and nutrients into our bodies in this period of time, or the right exercise, you know, we can suffer osteoporosis, we can actually have diabetes, all of which that many people have gone.

Well, That's just a health issue. No, if we'd absolutely approach this better in our perimenopausal years Then we'd have a better chance because as I touched upon Kathy earlier, that you know, the lifespan from perimenopause through menopause and post-menopause can be up to 15 years.

This isn't something that's going to go out overnight. This can be 15 years of your life and actually just as much as you wouldn't run a marathon in a pair of slippers and no training. Why, as women are we allowing ourselves to enter the biggest marathon of our lives that is menopause so willfully unprepared emotionally, physically, and mentally.

We need the right nutrition. We need the right kit; we need the right understanding of nutrients. We need the right [00:19:00] support, understanding of the exercise and the education we should be putting ourselves through. And we also need more information on what's out there to support and ease our symptoms like you've mentioned, if you are having hot flashes as you say in America, night flashes, you know, we know that it's not the night flash that necessarily wakes us up. It's the wet, cold, damp bedding that actually you're saturated in. Whether you're wearing the nighty or pajamas or sheets. Many women are getting up in the middle of the night changing the sheets, changing the nightwear.

That's the bit that really wakes us up. it's actually broken sleep. Now, if we knew that there's climate control bedding out there and pajamas that can wicker your sweat, that actually could have a hot flush, and then you could go straight back to sleep, how much better would you feel when you woke up in the morning?

So, what I'm saying here is it's not everyone has the same menopause. We have to treat each woman's menopause differently, but we ask women to actually look to find what [00:20:00] they need to suit their experiences help them have a better experience and a better experience today than yesterday. You know, It's a big, long haul.

If you look at 15 years of your life, and you could be absolutely frightened by how you're feeling, overwhelmed. But if you took a little step each day forward, you know, like, many women through lockdown, they were struggling to find a foundation that stayed on the face.

They, they were having a hot flash when they were on, you know, when they're on a Zoom call. Well, again, when your confidence is ebbing and away and you're feeling like you're losing that self-confidence, just finding a foundation that doesn't run down your face, gives you back. a bit of more confidence. You know, these are all baby steps because again, if you can look after the little bits, then you start to get stronger. To be able to look at the bigger a bit thing that you have to look at. Because there is no one silver bullet out there. HRT might make for those who can take it might make you menopause good, but it's not going to make it great.

Not unless you take the right nutrition, [00:21:00] do the right and change your lifestyle as well. And I want everyone in STEM and all the world, all women in STEM and out of stem, to actually to want to aspire to having been the best version of themselves, function at their best ability and absolutely thriving through this period of our life. especially in stem, we know how long it's taken for women to be recognized in your businesses And, an industry. And we can't afford to actually as women now be dropping out of this audience because our menopause has got too much. Or, we haven't admitted to ourselves that it is the menopause that we haven't got control of that's actually making our impact on work.

But nor can we have society going, oh my God, we've now got to even think about women in 

Kathy: Yeah. 

Heather: menopause. Now what's the next thing? This shouldn't be frightening. This is an everyday part of people's lives. Like I said, vegan is a life choice. Menopause isn’t, and every woman will enter menopause at some point of her life.

Whether it's surgical, early or natural menopause, we cannot run away from it. So, we [00:22:00] need to adapt life accordingly to it. And this isn't about having time off from work. The majority of women I speak to when it's about the workplace, they're not looking to. 

Kathy: Mm-hmm. 

Heather: as victims or go, oh yes, you know, take the time off.

They're wanting understanding. They're wanting their colleagues around them to have a better understanding and help accommodate it. You know, we don't want to be looked at any lesser than we are. We want to be able to thrive in this period of time, and which is why I push on the government out in the UK not to concentrate too much on the menopause policies of threat making companies do that because companies will put policies in out of fear factor of legislation.

And if we're going through making changes happen because we are fear legislation, we're not doing it right. We should be doing it because it's the right thing to do. And actually to me, companies should be all getting on board to help normalize the conversation rather than look to the policy.

Because back to those stats, if most women can unnamed three to five symptoms, even if you put the best policy in the world, or your business, it's not going to make didly squat to [00:23:00] those women who don't even know that's room menopause. You know what I mean? So, we need keep calling out. But yes, and again, we do need men in conversation, but I do know that you'll have a lot of women on here going, well, you know, in, STEM industry, it's very hard at the moment in time to survive as a woman.

And actually, we've done a lot get our respectability there, rightfully at the top table through the business. And I, I completely support and hear you. But actually, right now, you know, we need men and women to understand about menopause. So, women of stem, you are very, very, very, Creative, innovative.

You've been driven. You're resilient. You've got to where you've got to in your businesses because of all that, I want you to actually now talk and openly learn about menopause but talk positively about it. Talk positively about what a generation of women we are and have stem not been the last into this understanding. Be the first, you know, you've got the innovation and the industries to actually [00:24:00] lead on this agenda. So, I do ask that, you know, you don't worry about talking about menopause. You actually, we all get together, collaborate and positively.

And that's the other thing we've got to think about. You know, we're all in this together. And the more we talk about it, the more we open up our conversations. And you know, it's like one journalist once said to me, once you found out you're and you know there's 48 symptoms, this must have brought you really close to your mum and made you want to, you know, go, oh my mum, you never talked about your menopause and I'm really sorry that you went through it.

And we as teenagers didn't know I said, feel sorry for her and give her a hug. I said, personally, I wanted to slap her. I said, cause, you know, I was so annoyed and angry with her that she'd seen me as this woman who'd always gone out and done things differently and built businesses and had my kids, you know, and been a single mother.

And actually, she bus was going to come along and knock over and she didn't warn me. So, you know, we need, We need to be the generation of women who don't mourn about [00:25:00] menopause, but talk openly about it and how we talk about it has to be important because, Our GenM recent report, our opportunity report that's out for partners involved with us has clearly shown with all the noise that's going on about menopause in the UK.

And I do think we're slightly ahead of you on the conversation of, of the menopause in the UK but in 2022, more women are fearful of the menopause than they were in 2020. So how we talk about it is important. And I raised this with, with your listeners as well, because if we've put the fear into it completely, we’re only human beings, we're not going to go, oh wow, I'm fearing this.

I'm going to get better prepared for it. We're going toa be naturally human and go, oh my God, I fear for it. So, I'm going toa put my head in the sand and not need to look at it till I'm in it, which is the wrong thing to do. If we can change the rhetoric and look positively to this time for us to have the opportunity to thrive, we will then look to prepare ourselves better for it as we run up [00:26:00] to this period in our lives.

And we should be doing it from our thirties onwards. You know, Really, if we were really to look at how best we can menopause, it's been nutritionally. Fate in this. You know, changing my food was one of my big changes to me because I'm 54 years old now and there've been many women on this call who relate to this.

But I've been of that generation of women who've, we've been calorie deficit, we've spent our lives counting calories and knowing that once on the lips, lifetime on the hips, and I can count four apples equals one Mars bar. I'll have the Mars Bar if you don't mind. And actually, I've done from the Atkins diet to the Cambridge Diet. I've prepared myself; I've done diets, detoxes, everything.

But actually, it's all been around a short-termism of going to a wedding, going on holiday, getting that beach body, which to be fair, I never actually really got the beach body, but the aspiration was there to get it. 

Kathy: They say everybody is a beach body. If your body's on the beach right. 

Heather: Absolutely. [00:27:00] Absolutely. I love that phrase. Um, But equally what it meant was my body was entering menopause in the most nutritionally deficit way possible.

And what we do hope that the generations below my generation of women is a much more nutritionally fit body because you're much more aware of proteins. You're much more aware of all the different, mixes of everything that we need, the vitamins, the supplements, the nutrients. And so I do think my generation of women are going to be the worst to enter menopause and have the worst impact because the more severe you are on your health in the early in the buildup to these years, which I do think the majority of of women are much more aware of now they will be entering it a totally different way to what we're doing. Um, Not that they don't need to understand it better, because they'll still get some symptoms of it, but I do think. their bodies will be entering it better. And you know, I was questioned the other day, and actually grandma lived through two world wars, you know, [00:28:00] her own vegetables, cooked her own food, had meat and three veg at tea time, had a porridge in the morning and had no car.

So, she carries her shopping everywhere. So, she was doing her work, she was doing a fresh air and an exercise, and she was eating nutritionally well. She never had a bad menopause. So, I do believe that we are the first generation to not only be working menopause, but actually our bodies are not equipped to have the best menopause right now. but that's, you know, that's got to change. 

Kathy: Okay. And I also want to come back to the nutrition, but I have always, from conversations and snippets of women that I, typically, women I had worked with talking about their hot flashes, always viewed menopause negatively. How do you change to view it positively? Like what are the positives that we can change our, um, our perspectives and our perceptions about it Because we need it to be.

Heather: honest. 

Kathy: positive, [00:29:00] to talk about it 

positively, right? 

Heather: Yeah, Well, let's be honest. For the most, most of us, our period stop at in on the day of menopause because Menopause is actually only one day in our lives. It's 12 months since our last period. 

Kathy: Yep. 

Heather: don't know that, but 

Kathy: Yep. 

Heather: that's what it is. So on a positive, your periods stop. You're not having to buy any products for that. And actually,

Kathy: Okay. Great point. 

Heather: exactly.

Kathy: the perimenopause, leading up to that wreaks havoc on your life because you don't know when the hell it's coming. Like, I hadn't had my period for six months, went on a holiday to Italy, bam, not prepared. Got to go do some shopping in Italy.

Heather: had you, been better prepared for knowing that's what effect perimenopausal has, you would've actually bought some period proof pants that you could wear all the time, even wearing a 

Kathy: know 

Heather: of trousers 

Kathy: those I've, I've never used them because I was kind of like, they kind of came at the end of when I would've needed them, 

Heather: hold 10 tampons worth of blood. I know. Too [00:30:00]

Kathy: Oh my God. 

Heather: but you know what, there's a thing here that brings in the taboo to conversation of periods as well. Because again, you know, in the UK, all our sports clubs and that are changing girls whites, shorts into colored shorts. So they're not embarrassed with the bodies. Should they have an accident with put, 

Kathy: Oh, yay. 

Heather: girls wearing white shorts? 

Kathy: Why did it take so long? 

Heather: No, but give them the right pants. Don't change the color of the shorts. You know what 

Kathy: Oh, I see what you're saying. Give them something that, so that they well, But 

Heather: color.

Kathy: yeah, no, 

Heather: putting them in dark shorts. Actually only a man would come up with that because as soon as the poor girl sits on a seat, she's going toa show everyone. She's on a period anyway. Do you know what I mean? So I'm not got to think things through positively. And you know the period proof pants for those, right? I mean, when you're in perimenopause, there's no such word as like flow on the back They don't prepare you for flood and it comes from nowhere with no, notice. Do you know what I mean? And these are all things you have to live through. And that's another thing with the social anxiety. If you've had an [00:31:00] accident, many women do have horrible socially, Cringe in public, well then it puts you off going out.

It puts you off wearing a best dress. It puts you off being sociable or going into work and wondering when you stand up, is it going toa be embarrassing? Well get rid of that embarrassment, get rid anxiety. You know, that's why we've done our menopause friendly badge in the UK that will be coming out to America very soon, soon to go on products your symptoms and menopause.

One of them being heavy floods and floods that that you, you're not prepared for. So period proof pattern will have a menopause friendly symbol on them just to remind yourselves that it's about having the kids around you to have a better experience It's about we want the experience through this. 

Kathy: Okay, so back to the positive, because I kind of derailed that at the, um, going back into para. Okay, so we don't have periods 

Heather: how, we can change. is everyone's got part of this and brands have got to be part of it as well. We've got to show, you know, we've got real limit, real women living their best lives, being their best version of themselves. stories of [00:32:00] women setting up new businesses in this period lives, you know, actually thriving.

new job roles, doing something completely different, traveling the world, turn, becoming a paddle boarding champion or you know, there's, there's out there that we need to exaggerate and amplify because, you know, menopause isn't all that bad. It's a brilliant period of our lives.

our most skilled, we're our most talented. We've probably got the best friendship group round us and we're a podium life. When we can learn to say no, we've got the confidence to say no. And actually we've got also got the confidence to say, actually I'm going to, I'm going toa make this friendship group man a bit smaller because they're toxic and I don't want toxicity in my life anymore.

We've got some real powerful times to be, and The that we need women to recognize that this is their period to You know, it's not, you know, we want women to have a great time in their youth and then their, you know, in their thirties and forties, but I want the period of menopause not to be the time where they feel thrived up, shriveled and invisible.

I want them to [00:33:00] feel, wow, when I get to that point in my life, I'm going toa be on the top of this world. The world will be at my feet, and I need to actually be the best version of myself to really enjoy it, it, and really make the most of it. Because we've only got one life, and I'm, I'm just mortified that so many women feel that by the time they get to this period in their life, that's them done, finished and over.

Because I'm 54 years old and I've only just begun, and I want every other woman to feel that too. And I'm not just saying it for the sake. was that woman four, three years ago that actually felt done and invisible. And actually just by eating the right food, doing the right exercise, absolutely looking to this period and thinking how can I make my life better for myself?

Because if I can make it better for myself, I can make it better for for my family, I can make work colleagues and then hear her with joint. We've built a business that's now going toa be a global business. You know, These are all things that came it to a para menopausal woman. So if I can do it, [00:34:00] any woman out there can do it.

Because believe me, I'm nothing special. I'm just a simple actually has just got a bug bearing grind that actually needs sorting And um, she's really exciting times because that's the other thing you feel at this age. You can go out and You so long as you've got the resilience and the ability and the enthusiasm and let's get it right, the if you've got if you've that drive, you'll find it as well. So, 

Kathy: Um, I a thousand percent agree with you and I feel like I, and you know, I guess like mind, like part of, I feel like I am, I'm probably at the height of my confidence. Like we talk about like, you know, like young women not having confidence, losing confidence. I, I agree with you that I do feel like I am, um, really kind of on top of my game with this like side thing of night sweats and dealing the fact that you're working with these brands to, um, I'm assuming that they, that you're also working them to develop things for [00:35:00] women going through menopause or perimenopause 

Heather: It's called. Well, if I talk through, obviously you've just gone on all those things. Well, There's 48 symptoms in 

Kathy: rate. 

Heather: If I could do one thing other than this M friendly badge that I'm going toa talk about more about in a moment, it would be to change the branding of menopause because it should be called the change because it does what it says on the label.

The change changes everything from the shampoo that you might need to ha use to the foundation you might need, and the body creams to the clothes that you might need to wear to the bedding if you are wanting to really adapt and enter into this in the, in the right way. So again, 48 symptoms that aren't all frightening, but if you don't get ahold of them, you know, even brittle nails, you might go, well, that's not life changing.

But actually, if you've looked your nails all your life, and actually by blood drying your hair and having your nails all painted up, going out makes you feel great. When all of a sudden you blow dry on your hair doesn't feel absolutely brilliant anymore. It feels like damp and dank, and your hair's gone dank [00:36:00] and equal.

That great glow you got on a Friday night from just possibly having some exercise and then getting yourself ready to go out. And you're going out now as you're putting your makeup on and you still feel, no matter what you've done, you still feel gray of color and, and everything else, and then you to knock that you nails that brittle you, nail you, you varnishes and staying on it.

These are all things that impact us. And and actually, is it any wonder that social anxiety is one of the big issues many women in perimenopause that they start thinking, oh, I'll just stay, I'll stay in tonight. It's easier to stay in than go out or think about it. And we need to change that.

We need to remind them that they're a woman in themselves who should be the best version of themselves, but not to fear it instead of feeling that your hair, I mean, I wish I'd known about thinning hair. Before I had hair your length my hair was thinning so I had it all chopped off. Now there's some great shampoos out there for thinning hair actually.

So again, because perimenopause thinning hair is one of those attributes. It doesn't mean to say it's not going toa come back again. But again, [00:37:00] these things that knowledge is power and actually prevention is cure. And you know, there's a lot we can do to help a better experience. 

Kathy: Is that why a lot of women have shorter hair as they get older? 

Heather: Well, who knows, but I, that's why I lopped mine off because whenever I went to blow dry it looked thin and lank when I wanted it vibrant. Whereas when I had it all cut off, it, it could be anything on, I mean, I love my hair now, don't get me wrong, I haven't done it and gone, oh my God, I've cut all my hair, 

Kathy: No, I love your hair, by the way. 

Heather: what I'm saying is 

Kathy: I know. 

Heather: have had the option of keeping it or going it. I actually felt I had no option when I did have options. That's what I'm trying to say. 

Kathy: Okay. Lot of things I want to come back to. Let's normalizing the conversation because I think this is super, super important. And I think like as you talked about, it's, it's about, being able to talk about periods about, I just, I just had a couple of women we're talking about artificial intelligent tampons, menopause, all of these things, all of these women health issues that have been, I'm going toa say taboo subjects or very difficult [00:38:00] subjects to have in, I'm going to say mixed company. How do do we normalize that so that when we are going through challenges orjust how do we normalize it? 

Heather: Yeah. Well, we all have a part to play in this because one of, my greatest icons of, of the business world was a woman called Anita Rodrick, and she was the founder of the Body Shop.

Heather: Well, she once said in one of her great, uh, quotes, if you think you are too small to make impact, Try sleeping in bed with a mosquito and actually it resonated 

Kathy: in Minnesota where I live. 

Heather: yeah.

So what, what that means is that we've all got a part playing here. I mentioned earlier that menopause is a societal issue, and actually as such, you know, it isn't just down to employers or brands or retailers. to improve their, and we've all got a part to play. None of us have got it right and none of us have given it its best at the moment.

But we as women, whether we take ourselves away from being a leader or connected as many of your listeners will be to incredible [00:39:00] brands who they have the ability to go to the CEO the CMO and go, my God, we need to get with GenM. We've all got a part to play here. And the biggest part we can do is opening that conversation up.

 Women don't have a problem talking about menopause. They have a problem starting the conversation. So actually, how do we normalize society? We take those hard conversations and start to talk openly about them. We start to bring it up and that way you'd be surprised to know how many women will talk about menopause if they're given the right space to do it.

And I don't think it should just be in a menopause club. And I know that many of our brands are doing menopause cafes and they have menopause groups at work. Which I fully support, but I want women and men to be able to be talking about in a gym down in in the pub or the bar. and I want men talking about their partners not in a roll their eyes way you know? And, and that's the other side of menopause. You know, find it hard if you're in a heterosexual relationship, it's [00:40:00] bad enough one of us been in the menopause. Imagine like my best friend who's got a wonderful wife, both of them are in the menopause at the same time.

I can't think of anything worse than two women in menopause living together. But no, what I'm saying is we've really got to understand it from all perspectives that we aren't the easiest to live with through menopause, but we need a bit more understanding. We need a bit more support. So we have to raise it every which way, from the pub to the gym, to the workplace, to the bar, you know, it just got to be in every conversation that we bring it in and not fear it. And even if, every woman on here listening went out and did, downloaded our, 48 symptoms and played bingo with their friends and actually see how many symptoms that they could name, you'd be surprised how much that starts a conversation.

Do you know what I mean? Because the majority of women do not get past 10. 10. if they really try in group. a 

Kathy: Oh, that's funny. I like the idea of menopause symptom bingo. That sounds fun. Um, so to that point, I was, I was [00:41:00] texting. I run a nonprofit and my board is made up of my two daughters, one of my daughter's friends and my nephew. And so I was, was texting them last night we had a call this morning and I said, someone had said, well, I have a hard stop I have a meeting.

I said, well, so do I. And then I said, I'm doing a, my podcast with a woman to talk about menopause. And I see what my daughter said because it was kind of funny. She was, it was along the lines of like, oh, that sounds like a horrible conversation. She's like, I can think of like, nothing worse to talk about. And I'm like, that's the reason I'm putting this in the text message. 

Kathy: Being able to normalize it and talk about it is so important. 

Heather: But we need to bring it into education as well. You know, we talk, about puberty, we talk, you know, you didn't, you didn't go to the doctors to find out about puberty. We learned about it in society that we were going toa be spotted. we're going toa be, we're going toa slam the door. You know, our family, were going toa dread us going into puberty, but they were going toa support us through it and give us a hug.

When we actually went into a room, burst tears, and then came out, your mom would always be there with a cup of [00:42:00] tea and a hug for you. Try being a 53 year old woman having a meltdown in the house and see how many cups of tea you get brought. you can count on one finger and it's not even going toa get there. So, Do you know what I mean? So we need to raise it. But equally, when we first brought the idea of the GenM Menopause Friendly badge to go out on, on products that were deemed through our criteria to be menopause friendly. Some of the big companies going, oh, we couldn't put it on because it would put younger women off buying the product.

Even though it was menopause friendly and it was like, that's exactly the reason why you need to put it on your products. If you want to be a brand that sees a woman through all her life and stays loyal to all the way through. 

Kathy: Mm-hmm. 

Heather: by putting it on the product will show the young woman, oh, what's this all about? And actually, you know, oh, this will take me through, but actually, what is menopause? I need to find out more about it. We've got to start calling it out. We once feared the vegan counter. you know, you'd look at a packet of biscuit. Oh they're for vegans. I don't want one of those. You know, we feared it or, but we did, you know?

Kathy: I know, I'm laughing cause it's so dumb. 

Heather: Yeah. But now, you know, we embrace it and go, oh, actually I'll buy packet of those. They look nice and tasty. And actually they'll be all right for my friend John who comes around, who's also, uh, vegan. But what I'm trying to say is we need to now do that with a signage of menopause.

We've got to help make it a normal part of life. And actually by making a sign, doing the generic world sign, having it on signage in stores and, and then also on products, um, and services, then we can start to have people asking the question, what's that M? oh, it's the menopause. Oh, tell me more about menopause.

You know, men, one of, one of our biggest, um, founding partners, I mean of like, we had 48 founding partners and then we went To have nearly 90 now altogether. But companies like Boots, marks and Spencers, um, boots Walgreen obviously that you'll recognize and you know, I'm all coming on board. But one of the executives of one of those companies came off a call with me, um, and onto a private line and he said, Heather, I can't believe what you've just said.

He [00:44:00] said, my partner's going through really bad night sweats. I at the weekend, went out and bought a big box of chocolates and some flowers, because I wanted to say, you know, I'm really sorry you're going through this. He said, never once did I think of getting some climate controlled bedding of which we sell. This was the particular company. 

Kathy: Oh. 

Heather: Later he sent me a lovely message then that climate control has been a lifesaver and again, changing our relationship. One, he gave it and she burst into tears that he bought something that he'd actually considered as helpful to her, and actually now they can stay in the same bed together. She's not getting up. Do you know what I mean? So again, you know, it's not just about putting a symbol out there so that women and, and anyone else who's going through menopause can find products and services. It's our friends, our family, our colleagues can go, actually, do you know what? I've just seen something there that could be brilliant for for someone close to me who I care about to help them with their particular symptom. 

Kathy: By the way, I had no that there were actually things like that, [00:45:00] like climate control, bedding. totally go. I'm, I'm going shopping. 

Heather: yeah. Chill climate control, bedding. Um, one of our partners become who's American. They do great. Um, breathable, really breathable, fabrics for nightwear and so 

Kathy: It's like, it's like athletic wear for sleep. 

Heather: Oh, completely. Yeah. 

Kathy: All these things have just, they, they make sense. But it hasn't been, put two and two hasn't been put together. And actually a 20% market share of women who are underserved haven't been calling out what they want. And right now we need to call out what we need and what we want for our experience to be better.

Heather: It starts with signage. It starts with respect. It starts with brands and retailers starting to go, oh, do we need any more products on our shelves? Do we need to to look at this? And then as we start to get better at this, we need more women going, you've got some great products here for menopause, but you haven't got something that helps me. Could you get something like, whatever. And I do call out to all your, women on here to actually, if you are going into a store or a brand that you feel is under serving you at the moment, and I don't mean [00:46:00] just under serving you on products, but if you feel they're not seeing you in, you're not seeing yourself in advertising campaigns, you're not seeing yourself in the marketing of, you call it out with them.

Politeness doesn't cost anything. Politeness opens the door. And actually constructive criticism is a game changer for many businesses because everyone always moans and tells them why they're angry at them, but actually send, a nice message saying, have you considered there's a 20% audience that you are missing out on who actually is underserved and, you know, commercially and purposefully you should be doing it for the sake of, your company.

It's the way we ask and and many of you women will be saying, why should we have to ask? We should actually, they should be seeing it what they're not. So we've got to find a different way of doing this. And like I say, collaboration, politeness, and actually pointing out this, is the new vegan.

Actually treat menopausal women and that consumer like you've done the vegan market and see how it flourishes. 

Kathy: Okay. I love that. All right, so I found [00:47:00] an article and I don't remember if this was like linked on your website or something that I found when I was researching for this, but here's what I read. Mandatory menopause training for GPs is not needed says government. This is UK government, January 24th, 2023. Super concerning to me. 

Heather: Yeah, it was, um, it was a it was a statement that was read You know, the doctors are completely aware in the UK now that it needs to be part of, of their whole training. It's a subgroup that you can tick to opt in on, not opt out of it this moment in their training, but actually the rhetoric and, and the position of menopause.

Now most doctors in the UK are realizing they need up training on menopause, but they need it in medical school as well. It should be a 

Kathy: Yep. 

Heather: Because if we get menopause right, it will stop so many of the symptoms if the menopause hasn't been taken care of. Um, and I do also understand as well that if a woman comes in, you know, [00:48:00] with certain issues, whether it be, you know, I had MRI scans on on my shoulders because I had aches and pains. You know, I had a brain scan for dementia. you know, all these things. I know when you go in. If you're going with scary symptoms, they have to look at it at at the worst it can be. But actually, if we knew more about perimenopausal women, we'd actually check out whether we could be in the perimenopause.

We'd actually change some things about our lifestyle before we went to doctors. And then if that didn't work, you'd then go and see the doctor. And I think as well, what we do need to do is have a better education of the symptoms earlier on. And also realize that this, you know, more women have spent millions of the NHS money going on tests that they didn't need, because actually it turned out that they were perimenopausal.

But equally what we didn't know was that we didn't know anything about perimenopause. It's a catch 22. Do you know what I mean? So I do think doctors have a role to play, but also we as society cannot all go in the, the first day we [00:49:00] think with perimenopause, if we took 20% audience share and we all went and phoned our doctor's report, went, you know, it would have a meltdown.

We need a better understanding of it ourselves. And like I said, we didn't all go to the doctors or need a doctor to go through puberty. We shouldn't all needing to go to the doctors about menopause. And there's so many different ways of choosing menopause, naturally.

HRT, a bit of birth, nothing at all. We've spent, and especially your audience will understand this, we spent years and generations trying to get the choice to have a life where we've got choice and control of who we are, what we are, what we want to do as women.

But equal back to that choice and control, I don't want, you know, that to be taken away from us. Now I want the more choice of 

Kathy: Mm-hmm. 

Heather: Want my journey through menopause. And what I do also ask of is the women on this call is that actually you also think of being kind to each other as well and being kind to the industry and the brands and the retailers who are trying to support you.

Because again, what we can't afford is for women to go, [00:50:00] I tried that product and it was rubbish. And actually then it influences their next friend who tries it and it could work for them right now, you know, like running a marathon, I've recommended my one cloud trainers to so many people and some of them said they were brilliant and others said, oh God, they're blistered my feet. I couldn't 

Kathy: Mm-hmm.

You’ve got to get fitted for those shoes that work for you. 

Heather: Exactly, 

Kathy: Mm-hmm. 

Heather: Understand that what could work for you might not work for somebody else. Because of the business when I get sent lots of great products that are coming out or would you like to try it? And I've sent some great ones to friends going, wow, this is really good.

You want to try it? And it's not worked for them. So actually we've all got to be kind in this, that recognize our friend and our colleague's menopause is different to ours. We can recommend and suggest, but no one's ever going toa get to a point of being able to go, give me the six things that work for you and I'm going toa go off and buy them because they might not work for you.

So let's just be fair and kind to one another. And that's also, let's be fair and kind to the brands and the retailers who [00:51:00] are trying to understand what we want as women, how to serve it and everything else. And there's going toa be some mistakes on the along the way. And I don't mean mistakes on like formulas and that cause of, you know, the legislations are all tight on this, but there are going toa be some mistakes on how people market it and do things, but let's not pull it apart. Let's, you know, say, well, at least he tried. And how can we help them do it better? Because life's too short. I want, and I think we all want menopause to actually be as normal as possible, as quickly as possible. We've waited generations to realize this is the one thing that's holding ourselves back from real true equality we need to change it now. We need to change it together. 

Kathy: One of the things about this article that like really hit home for me, so I was training for a marathon We've been talking about marathons. I was training for a marathon last fall that I was supposed to do in January with my daughter. And I developed this like really bad back pain in my SI joint. Started going to physical therapy, went to three different physical [00:52:00] therapists, had an MRI went to an orthopedic doctor, um, went to, I can't remember the other kind, some other kind of doctor. No one ever asked the question, are you in menopause? Are you in perimenopause? And I did not know that there were 48 symptoms and one of them being joint pain.

Heather: Yeah, 

Kathy: Until yesterday when I was, when I was looking at your website. And then I'm like, huh, could that be from menopause. 

Heather: I mean, I have to say all my pains were, and I think there'll be someone around here who are the same. Turning in your sleep became It was like, oh God, do I want to turn over? I hadn't done anything to injure a muscular, it was 

Kathy: Yeah. I had no injuries. Mm-hmm. My MRI was fine.

Heather: Yeah, and again, it is part of it. Do you know what I mean? And, you know, it's about getting the right vitamin, supplements and nutrients in our body. it is game changing if you find the right supplements that you should be taking, and save you a hell of a lot of money with your [00:53:00]physio as well.

Kathy: Oh my and time, oh my gosh. I have spent so much time, physical therapy and actually I feel like my physical therapy actually made it worse. I have actually like quit going to physical therapy and my back is starting to feel better. Okay. Let's hop into nutrition because you have talked a lot about nutrition and changing your nutrition.

What did you change? How do you figure out what to change in menopause? I didn't even know that was something to think about within menopause. I didn't think about like exercising differently. I've exercised all my like I talked about running. 

What changes should we be thinking about as we approach menopause, as we go through perimenopause, as we are in menopause from nutrition and exercise and lifestyle. 

Heather: It's about full rather than being, nutritionally deficit. You know, I I went to see a nutritionist for myself and actually what I'm, not going toa share what I have because again, it might not work for everybody else, 

Kathy: Mm-hmm. 

Heather: it's about your omegas, your oily fish. It's about all the different, the Sawyers and everything else.

And actually, if any one of, your readers start to look into what should I be eating for a healthier menopause? You'll see [00:54:00] the grain, you'll see the oils, you'll see the nutrients that we need. And even the down to the blueberry. You know, if I was choosing one fruit, moved it over to blueberries, now, you know, it's, again, small changes make a big difference.

I mean, I've got a beautiful sports car and I put the best petro. And yet I wasn't putting the best petrol in my own body. I valued my car more than I valued my own body. And so you've really got to research and understand. Either go to a nutritionist or just get a great book on menopause or Google what is great for menopause.

And you'll see it all there. Um, there's some on our, on our website on the 48 symptoms, there's some tips and advice for what you should be eating nutritionally. But make that your first part of goal. It's the easiest one you can change because you know we all have to put something in our mouth every day. So make it sure that it counts for something and remind yourself that this is great and actually it's about what you shouldn't be eating as well, or drinking caffeine intake.

Reduce it, reduce it, [00:55:00] reduce your alcohol intake as well. I'm not one of these women who'll say, cut it out completely. Because life's too short. if you still can take alcohol and not a point in your life where you've had to stop it, there's no reason why you should be stopping it.

It's just cutting it down to healthier levels because again, your sleep's part of how much caffeine you're having and when you're having it and when you're eating. So, you know, It is all very much common sense. But as common sense, let's be honest, we as women are too busy to think of common sense when it comes to our own bodies and, um, we, we put ourselves on the bottom of the pile.

Heather: what we need to do. And I think that's the other thing I want to remind women of that actually, I know that we'll say, I haven't got time to think about my menopause. I'm too busy. I've got my teenage kids to sort out, I've got my career. That's, you know, and I've got this project, I've got to got on the go and I've got a partner that I've got to support and look after.

Actually, if you don't look after yourself, all those other thing that they'll all collapse without you. So be the best version of yourself and everyone else will be able to fit around it. So, you know, The reason why we've got to where we are with women's equality is we didn't value ourselves enough to actually [00:56:00] negotiate for our wages and our salaries.

Don't let it be about your health You know, we learnt the hard way with salaries. Let's not be, in the, future that the the women being far less healthier than men when it comes to us thriving in our forties, fifties, and sixties and beyond. Let's get ahead of the game.

Kathy: So put our mask on first.

Heather: Absolutely. 

Kathy: Okay. I have some questions from my friends that I want to ask to see and you, I know I know we talked about like this is this is not a medical conversation, so if there's things that you don't know, things that you can't answer, great. Okay, so how does menopause perimenopause impact sex life and ability to orgasm?

Heather: Well, it doesn't impact everyone's sex life and it doesn't impact everyone's ability to have an orgasm. Um, But it can actually start to affect how the confidence is They, could have dry vagina. it can be uncomfortable, so there's the sex and then there's the orgasms. Two different things. I would always argue on this, but you know, [00:57:00] so it's actually about understanding. why is it painful? What do I need to do about it? And talk to someone, go to the doctor, go to pharmacy and see what's out there. So some great products for dry vaginas when actually we've just lived with it and tolerated and thought, well, this is another part of me shriveling up even down there, which actually it shouldn't be. Then the second thing is actually recognize that you are a thriving woman and you don't deny yourself a great orgasm because it has so many health benefits as well. So, Again, on our site, it's not a medical site, but it gives you tips and advice on where to go and where to look for the different parts to this. don't think it's going to be forever. Do something about it. Don't live with it. Find ways through it. It's like now incontinence is a problem with many women. And actually the incontinence don't actually start looking at sites or going on in the supermarket going, oh my God, I'm going toa have to get some incontinence pants and these are what I'm going toa have to wear for the rest of my life.

No, you don't have to put up with it. You can do exercises, you can buy products, you can actually help get yourself over this. And I would say [00:58:00] anyone who's finding that sex is painful or the going off sex, the libido's gone. You know, Again, the food for me might sound silly, but actually the food and feeling healthier and feeling better about myself brought my libido back and everything else.

But again, don't deny yourself things that actually aren't taken away from you should be able to have great sex and you should be able to have a great orgasm with or without your partner.

Kathy: Great to hear that. Okay. When it comes to mental health symptoms, how do we separate menopause as the causation versus social changes such as kids leaving the house or feeling less needed or all of those things?

Heather: what society we've trained ourselves to look to other reasons for why we're feeling like we are? You know, it's like, oh, her kids have just gone to university. Oh, you know, she's looking after her aging parents now on top of a day job, you know? And. Oh, she's just got a new, new higher role and everything else. These are all things that we would've been able to cope with in our thirties. It would've been bring it on. I can do all this [00:59:00] actually, you know, we've looked to find excuses for why we're feeling like we are, rather than actually looking at what the real reason is And the real reason is your hormones are all over the place.

Yeah, absolutely. You know, You are not the best version of yourself because you're nutritionally, physically, mentally not prepared for your menopause. And actually the reason why, we haven't addressed many of the things is because we've all looked at, oh, she's empty nesting. Or, you know, she's, since the kids left home, since she lost her job, she's never been the same.

Actually, this is our time to live and we've got to stop we know the reason why we're feeling like it is and actually look at other things that it could be. And obviously these things will have an impact. But how many parents, I mean, I used to find. don't get me wrong, I have brought my two kids up and I love them to bits, but actually I brought them up to actually be excited when they were ready to leave home and have a great life ahead of them. we should be looking at positively, we shouldn't be looking at the end of our periods as oh my God, I'm shriveling [01:00:00] up and now I can no longer have children, or whatever it might be. look at, wow, this is the new part of my life. You know, This is actually the end of my period. It's how we actually look at our lives now, and I try and actually encourage more women to look half full rather than half empty, especially in this period of life.

Because there's enough going on to bring us down. We need to actually want to fill ourselves up and that's what we need to do. the rhetoric round on everything in your life. 

Kathy: alright. quick thing maybe. So when it comes to depression and. You talk about on your website, and you also mentioned this earlier, that, um, suicide rates, this is the highest rate for suicides for women. 

Heather: yeah. 

Kathy: So how do we, from a standpoint standpoint of like, depression being tied to suicide or, you know, like do we potentially, keep that from happening or, reduce or, if that tie is to is it, you know, making sure that psychiatrists and [01:01:00] psychologists and therapists understand menopause. 

Heather: If a woman is depressed, this period will be to go to the doctors and, and talk to the doctors and see if she needs HRT and actually look to find that rather than going antidepressants. But a great case study into time in the UK we built our campaign Men, men misunderstanding menopause Shatters lives around an incredible man called David Salmon and his wife Linda.

Now, David Salmon and his wife Linda, they lived in a semi detached house. She worked part-time in a supermarket, just a normal life with the kids and everything else. Uh, Three years ago she started to, he knew she was, it was going through woman's issues because as he put it, because she was having hot sweats at night, but she said, oh, look, I'm just going through women's issues and I'll be all right.

Anyway, she started to have anxiety. Mild depression. So he said, look, we need to take you to the doctors. It was in the part of Covid. And so the doctor said, look, you working frontline in the supermarket. lots of people are anxious. Just, be kind on yourself and, and everything else.

Anyway, [01:02:00] three weeks later she'd taken her own life this was out of the blue because the mild anxiety was not showing any of that track. obviously the family was devastated, David's devastated his kids had devastated, no letter or anything else. So no reason for it. Three months later David's watching a documentary on television about menopause and he broke down because he realized she'd been suffering so many more of the symptoms than either one of them acknowledged.

And so we did this campaign with him to actually, and it was award-winning here in the UK that actually all those men in our lives, whether it be our sons, our daughters, our nephews, and need to help us look out for this because our friends, colleagues, and friends and partners around us are the ones who will see changes in us faster than we'll see it in ourselves.

So again, menopause can cause mild depression, but equally, if it's unattended, it can get severe. And that's not because of your menopause, it's because we didn't control our menopause and we didn't control our depression. So one, go to the [01:03:00] doctors, two, bring them into it. Three talk about what solutions could I do to actually feel better on this?

Back to the exercise and everything else, it all has a role to play. And you know, our lifestyle does as well. But don't let your menopause control you get on top of it. But the only way you can get on top of all these things is not to assume you know why you're feeling like this. Actually, to look at all those 48 symptoms and go actually. Could this be because I'm perimenopause or even menopausal or postmenopause, and what do I need to do for it? What can I do for myself and what do I need to go to the doctor and get some advice over? 

Kathy: Okay. I want to come back to a that we talked about, but I want to see if you have any like specific advice. Um, So in the work world, as I talked about, like a lot of us work in very male dominated work environments and being able to talk about any. Women's issues. I'm using, air quotes here, you know, periods, menopause, whatever. So my friend said if she even brings up the word menopause at work, people freak [01:04:00] out. 

Heather: yep. 

Kathy: How do we change that? Especially, you know, in a lot of cases, like we might still be the only woman in a department or something. How do we talk about that? How do we normalize it in 

Heather: In a department, got to recognize you're not the only woman in the world. When those men go out of that department into their lives of facing many more women, whether it be the mother, whether it be the daughter, or. Whatever. And we've got to remember that. We've got to stay strong on that because we need to normalize this conversation with them.

We've not got to fear it. Now, our research has shown most men feel 66% of men that we actually interviewed felt helpless about menopause. Now, helpless is a good sign because it doesn't show the ignorant. They just don’t know what to do, and we have the ability to bring them into conversations. Now again, on this, most of those men. If you did start talking to it positively and not, what are we going toa do in the workplace? some of them would suddenly go, oh, hang on a minute. That's happening to me at home, that's happening in my life. Or that's my friend out [01:05:00] there that's happening to her. So it's how we bring this up with them. We don't want them being shocked and everything else, but we do want them to realize they're a part of, you know, it's a societal issue. Bring up the divorce, the relationship breakdowns, the suicide, the leaving work. Because anyone who's around, someone who's menopausal, especially if it's in your family, you will be impacted financially and economically if things go wrong on this.

So don't any man tell you that they're not going to be impacted by menopause. Because if you are in a relationship breakdown, whatever your gender is, you are not coming back into work your best self either. So if you are in a relationship breakdown with someone who's menopausal, please don't tell me that you are working to your best and it's not impacting how you are working.

So again, they have a role to play and you know, I think that. With bringing up the conversation, don't bring it upon. What are we going toa do in the workplace? Bring it up as a conversation of actually, take October for instance, world menopause month. make it something that you are going toa be prepared to talk about.

Do a session on it. Talk [01:06:00] about it. Actually do anything you can to raise the conversation, but bring men into it, right from the word go. 

when I've been going to see many CEOs at the moment. In my old days with the gender business that I had in the leadership development 15, 20 years ago, many of those men didn't have an understanding of, uh, the lack of women at the top. Because one, they had a wife who stayed at home, and I'm not 

Kathy: Mm-hmm. 

Heather: but in a big way. And two, their daughters weren't into, into the careers yet, so they weren't really thinking about it. 

Kathy: Mm. 

Heather: when you go and talk to a senior CEO, either they're in a relationship with someone in perimenopause or they're on the fourth wife who's they've left three others for because they were perimenopausal and they're suddenly realizing it wasn't the actual wife, it was the menopause. You know what I mean?

So what I'm trying to say is, They're not idiots. These men, they're what if we can raise a Belisha beacon with them, they will realize that menopause is impacting their lives more than would even think about. So don't talk to them as a management training issue. Talk to them as a societal awareness [01:07:00] of just let's talk menopause because, and, just be that advocate for talking rather than, uh, workplace. And then it takes the fear factor out of them. 

Kathy: Okay. I know you have to go. I'm going toa ask one really really quick thing Okay. Natural remedy for symptoms. Are there natural remedy for symptoms versus, um, hormone treatment and. Specific question, which I have not heard of this one. Apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper. Does that really work to relieve hot flashes? 

Heather: For some people it does and I'll move on from that but for some people it does, but equally have a look at all the other options that you've got for that now, natural versus HRT. Absolutely, there's a mixture of you can do it both, or you can actually do it all naturally if you want to to choose that way.

You will see the next 18 months, two years, there's so much more options coming on the natural, just on how they're promoting it and everything else. But this is about choice and control. What we don't want is to HRT or not to HRT. We want to give that choice of, I can do [01:08:00] it this way, I can do it that way, or I can do it this way.

And between the doctor society, the product development that's out there, and the general merchandising of better ways to do this, you know, there's some great, great things. And out in America, if you check out Maryon Stewart for natural menopause, um, she's got some great ideas and a real expert. She's been in this field for what, 25, 30 years now. She, absolutely believes that you can menopause completely, naturally. So anyone thinking you can't check out Maryam Stewart. 

Kathy: Awesome. Heather, I thank you so much for your time today, and I thank you for the great work that you're doing and raising awareness. And working with brands, I'm going toa go do some shopping and I will. put links to your website. I will. Um, I know we didn't really get to talking about the branding of GenM and um, 

Heather: it's a different kind of podcast this, but equally, any woman on this call who's working for a brand who you feel should be part of this, be it their consumer or the work colleague or both, [01:09:00] just get in touch with us. We are coming out to the USA but most of the brands actually in the USA who are in this space of menopause friendly, whether it be products, nutrients, femcare, fem tech, you name it actually are in the UK as well. So don't think, oh, well, we'll just wait till GenM comes out to the US, actually put us in touch with them now because better preparation allows for better building and we have this vision for the M to be as recognizable as the vegan V in the next five years. only people like yourselves listen to this and promoting can make that happen. We've provided the vehicle, everyone wants the journey. I'm asking any woman or any business to get on the journey now and and join the ride and let's really make menopause a better experience where we really give every woman in the world the ability and the and the education to thrive.

Kathy: Well, thank you. Thank and I, I really appreciate this in the conversation. It's been really wonderful and eye-opening and, I'm looking forward to being a part of normalizing that conversation. 

Heather: Brilliant. Well thank you very much 

Kathy: I hope you [01:10:00] enjoyed this episode of Ordinarily Extraordinary Conversations with Women in stem. You can find a list of definitions, acronyms, and resources in the episode notes. And if you could take a few seconds, not too long, go out. Rate my podcast. If you can write a review, follow it, share an episode with a friend.

This helps my podcast get out to more people and helps bring these women's stories to more listeners, you can find me Kathy Nelson at www.ordinarily-extraordinary.com, and please join me for future episodes. Thank you.