Over the last year, we’ve loved following Meg Mathews on her journey at her website MegsMenopause. It’s just been voted the UK’s number-one menopause site and is packed with fantastic advice, which Meg has researched, tried and tested herself. This is because Meg truly believes in telling it like it is, so she can inform and empower women everywhere. Her guidance is refreshingly honest and frank, with a good dose of humour – this is Meg Mathews, after all! Here we speak to Meg about what its success means to her.
Meg, you must be so proud of how much you’ve achieved in just one year. Why do you think MegsMenopause has been so popular?
I’m absolutely over the moon! We’re delighted to have been voted the UK’s number-one menopause website and I just can’t believe that more than 700,000 people have visited us. It just goes to show that women really want and need the type of information we are providing them with at MegsMenopause. There are millions of women in the UK going through the menopause. My aim is to get as much information as I can to them. The menopause is something that we can never have too much information about.
When we're going through the menopause, we need to know everything about our symptoms, as fast as possible. With foggy brain and lack of sleep, who wants to be searching through a big book? Some women love to look on Instagram and see a few lines that mean something. Others will find what they need on a website. This information needs to be at our fingertips. I also really want MegsMenopause to sound exactly like me. And I want to talk about everything! From vaginas, to masturbation and lost libido… we need to get down to the nitty gritty. The night sweats. The urinary problems. There was nothing about these things when I was looking myself – so I had no idea what was happening to me.
So you set up MegsMenopause based on your own experiences? What have the main challenges been for you, with your own menopause?
The menopause was something that was so mind blowing for me. From the mood swings, to the anxiety, to the weight gain, to sleeplessness, to panic attacks, to the joint and muscle aches... all of these things happening one after the other. Basically, everything that you really never want to happen to your body suddenly does! It’s not just “Oh. My periods have stopped. I’m having a hot flush”. It’s so much more than that.
That’s why I want to see what is out there, for all of us. I’ve visited private clinics and tried bio-identicals. I’ve done things on the NHS, I’ve had HRT and been to menopause clinics. I’ve done the whole shebang! Both to get to the bottom of my own symptoms, but also so I can pass all this research on. Fortunately, I managed to speak to someone who recognised that I was going through the menopause. They suggested I try an estrogel, which has worked wonders. So in this way, I can help women to see the sorts of things that they could and should be asking for at their local GP. It’s so important that women feel supported and that they can share what’s going on, instead of bottling it all up.
You’ve been very brave in bringing the menopause to the forefront and sharing your experiences. Why are people still afraid to talk about these issues?
I have no idea. The taboo of it all is still going on – when you think back to the 1970s, it was all very much ‘we don’t talk about these things’. You didn’t tell anyone you were on your period, you kept it all hidden. I know women, still now, who tell me they’re embarrassed about putting condoms and tampons in their shopping basket. Why are we still so self-conscious? The fact is, everyone is having sex, we're all having periods... every woman is going to go through the menopause. We’ve got to stop feeling so awkward about our bodies – it’s all part and parcel of real life.
Along the way, you must have been given so many different pieces of advice, but what’s been the most memorable?
The best thing I’ve heard is “It takes one vagina to know another vagina”. I just love that line! It pretty much sums up MegsMenopause. Because if anyone is going to advise me about my vagina, I prefer knowing that they’ve got one too! If I want to talk to another woman about the menopause, it's easier to speak to someone who is on the same journey. And it can be hard going, but it's important to keep upbeat. I do like things that make me laugh, that I can share with others, give them a giggle too. I love advice that’s a bit funny and quirky.
I think we have to be truthful, realistic and unashamed about our bodies. At 52 years old and going through the menopause, it’s normal for us to be changing shape and going a bit rounder at the hips. We’re all human! We all have our off days when the jeans are feeling a bit tight. We shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves. One thing I love about Become™ is the fact that the women in your campaigns are real women of all shapes and sizes, who are going through the menopause, but they’re smiling and look so confident.
Have you adapted your lifestyle in any ways since your menopause started?
I have to be careful about what I eat and can’t get away with too many treats any more. I try to eat clean, so I've cut back on sugar, carbs and chips! It’s not easy but it’s a good way to control mood swings. Gut health is something we’re only just learning about, but it’s been linked to depression and the way that the brain works. I take daily vitamins and supplements, plus I have a green algae smoothie. As much as I like to think I eat a lot of green veg, it’s still never enough, so I drink one every day.
I’ve also just recently been diagnosed with osteoporosis. The chances of me fracturing my left hip are now extremely high. Most people don’t know whether they are at risk and I only found out because I was researching for my website. But one out of every two women over 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime, which is a huge number. So now I do weight-bearing exercises to strengthen my muscles. I head down to the gym three times a week and work on a simple weightlifting workout for my back, legs and arms. I’m pumping iron like Arnold Schwarzenegger did back in the 1970s! It's very basic, but it works.
In your opinion what do we still need to do to change the stigma surrounding menopause?
I think we really need to keep the conversations going. We need to speak our minds instead of bottling everything up – it’s so important to share. When my menopause hit, I woke up in the middle of the night drenched with sweat and filled with anxiety. I felt so alone. So this is exactly the sort of thing that I want to help women overcome. We shouldn’t be afraid of talking about our bodies, our needs… and our vaginas! I’m so glad that MegsMenopause together with companies like Become™, are really supporting women through the menopause, highlighting their struggles and encouraging them to get proper support and care. But we need even more organisations and companies to get involved. We drastically need to talk more about these issues.
Huge thanks to Meg for taking the time to talk to us. Look out for more collaborations between Become™ and Meg in 2019 and read more about Meg’s own experiences and tried-and tested advice on her website, MegsMenopause.