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Davina McCall compares menopause to being a drug addict

Davina McCall attending The Masked Singer press launch held at The Mayfair Hotel, London. (Photo by Scott Garfitt/PA Images via Getty Images)
Davina McCall attending The Masked Singer press launch held at The Mayfair Hotel, London. (Photo by Scott Garfitt/PA Images via Getty Images)

TV presenter Davina McCall has revealed going though the menopause took her back to the days she was a drug addict.

The former Big Brother host has been clean for many years, but admits going through perimenopause eight years ago aged 44 gave her similar symptoms to when she was using Class A drugs.

The 52-year-old spoke of the experience as part Loose Women Menopause Week when she appeared on the ITV show on Monday (12 October).

Read more: Changing Rooms to return with Davina McCall as host

McCall admitted she had no idea what was happening when she started having symptoms such as night sweats and being moody.

She said: “Nobody told me about it. I hadn’t learned about it at school, from my mum or my big sister. It was the thing nobody talked about it.

Watch: Davina McCall talks about the menopause on Loose Women

“There was so much shame about it. It was a sign you’d dried up, you were past your sell by date, you were at the end of your life, which in Victorian days, I suppose you were….But now we live until we’re 80, we’re right in the middle of our lives.

“This is where the good bit happens where we know we’re not going to have kids anymore and we can go off and be a bit selfish after being selfless for so long.”

Comparing the symptoms to those similar to being an addict, she added: “Obviously I’m a reformed addict and I was waking up soaked in sweat, having to put towels on the bed, thinking, ‘There’s something wrong with me, I’ve got the flu or a virus or something’.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 12: Davina McCall attends the ITV Palooza 2019 at The Royal Festival Hall on November 12, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Lia Toby/Getty Images)
Davina McCall attends the ITV Palooza 2019 at The Royal Festival Hall on November 12, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Lia Toby/Getty Images)

“It really reminded me of when I was using and I really hated it… and mood swings, shouting at the kids. I’m not a shouty mother at all and then I’d end up crying in the car, apologising to the children, going, ‘I’m really sorry, I don’t know what’s wrong with me.’

“My keys were in the fridge, my phone was in the bin, my libido was through the floor. It was just a nightmare.

Read more: Davina McCall shares emotional message about lockdown ‘rollercoaster’

“The symptoms were few and far between. My periods were regular, but sometimes they were a bit longer, sometimes a bit shorter. I didn’t think I could have it so early… but actually it’s the perimenopause.”

McCall also how Hormone Replacement Therapy has helped her get through it. “The health benefits for me way outweighed the negatives. I’ve got dementia running in my family, it massively reduces that, reduces diabetes and it reduces the risk of heart disease by 50 per cent.”

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Tough menopause may signal future heart issues, study says

As if the misery of hot flashes, night sweats and sleep troubles weren’t enough, now new research suggests that women who routinely experience moderate to severe menopausal symptoms have a higher risk of stroke and heart disease.

“This analysis assessed various menopausal symptoms and their association with health outcomes. Women with two or more moderate to severe menopausal symptoms had an increased risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease,” said study author Dr. Matthew Nudy, a cardiology fellow at Penn State Hershey Medical Center.

This study didn’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship, it only showed an association between menopausal symptoms and stroke and other heart and blood vessel diseases. It’s possible that menopause symptoms might not be a cause of these problems at all. It may be that other factors, such as obesity or diabetes, may lead to both menopausal symptoms and poor health outcomes.

Nudy also noted that past research has shown that women with menopausal symptoms often have other risk factors for heart disease and stroke, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol. They also may have poorer blood vessel health and increased levels of inflammation.

The latest research used data from a previous trial of more than 20,000 women between the ages of 50 and 79. The average follow-up time for the study was seven years.

The study looked for symptoms that included:

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Dizziness
  • Irregular heartbeats, such as a racing heartbeat or a feeling of skipped beats
  • Tremors
  • Feeling restless or fidgety
  • Feeling tired
  • Difficulty concentrating or forgetfulness
  • Mood swings
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Breast tenderness
  • Headache or migraine
  • Waking up multiple times at night.

The researchers found that when two or more of these symptoms were moderate to severe, the odds of stroke increased by 41%. The odds of any cardiovascular disease increased by 37% in women with two or more moderate to severe symptoms compared to women who had none.

Women who have multiple or more moderate to severe symptoms from menopause may be more likely to see a doctor for relief of those symptoms. Nudy said that’s a good opportunity for doctors to assess their heart disease and stroke risk.

Dr. Eugenia Gianos, director of women’s heart health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, reviewed the study and said it reaffirms previous studies on potentially negative effects associated with menopausal symptoms.

“Many cardiac syndromes are unique to women and hormonal differences may explain the differences noted,” Gianos said.

“Unfortunately, supplementation with calcium and vitamin D did not improve outcomes,” she added.

Future research needs to determine what factors may be responsible for the negative effects of menopause and menopausal symptoms on women’s health, and find ways to ease menopausal symptoms and any poor outcomes linked to them, Gianos noted.

The findings were presented this week at the virtual meeting of the North American Menopause Society. Findings presented at meetings are typically viewed as preliminary until they’ve been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

Learn more about menopausal symptoms from the U.S.

More U.S. Women Using Marijuana to Help Ease Menopause: Study | Health News

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter


WEDNESDAY, Sept. 30, 2020 (HealthDay News) — A growing number of middle-aged women are turning to marijuana to help soothe symptoms of menopause, new research indicates.

About one-third of older female U.S. veterans said they had either tried to treat their menopause symptoms with cannabis products or planned to experiment with marijuana in the future, according to results presented this week at the virtual annual meeting of the North American Menopause Society.

“These findings suggest that cannabis use for menopause symptom management is common, raising questions about the symptoms being targeted, and if this approach is helpful or harmful,” said lead investigator Carolyn Gibson. She’s a psychologist and health services researcher with the San Francisco VA Health Care System.

About 27% of 232 female veterans reported that they either currently or in the past had used cannabis products to treat their menopause, and another 10% said they planned to try it in the future, the researchers found. The average age of the veterans surveyed was around 56.

Marijuana actually was more popular among these women than traditional forms of menopause treatment. Only 19% of the women said they’d tried the usual methods of easing their menopause symptoms.

The tendency to prefer pot over traditional medicine is “alarming,” said Dr. Stephanie Faubion, medical director of the North American Menopause Society.

Faubion added that there are traditional, mainstream treatments for menopause that have some evidence backing their use, but that the same does not hold true for marijuana.

Gibson noted that her findings did not specify the types of marijuana products being used by the women. They could be trying anything from cannabidiol (CBD) oil to marijuana edibles to actually smoking pot.

Cannabis use was more commonly reported among women suffering from hot flashes (67%) and night sweats (68%) within the past two weeks, the results showed.

It’s possible women are trying marijuana because of the wave of legalization that’s swept the United States, Gibson said.

“It’s become mainstream, more widely available, more marketed potentially toward women during this period in their lives,” Gibson said. “That might be part of it.”

The potential for pot to help ease symptoms also might be a driving factor, although Gibson hastened to note that there’s been no research showing that cannabis can help with menopause.

“It may be that cannabis use can be relaxing and help with things like anxiety and sleep, and that would have an impact on sleeplessness and anxiety or mood changes during menopause,” Gibson said. She noted that hot flashes and other menopause symptoms have been linked to sleep and anxiety.

The fact that these U.S. veterans are trying marijuana could indicate that pot use among menopausal women is even more widespread than previously thought, Gibson said.

“It is possible that veterans getting care in the VA health care system may be less likely than non-veterans to use cannabis, given that it is considered illegal by federal guidelines in the VA regardless of state laws,”