Davina McCall’s Menopause Documentary, Was it right or wrong?
Davina McCall’s channel 4 menopause documentary aired on the 2nd of May covered a range of topics. These included the drastic effect menopause has in the workplace, the benefits of HRT and how women’s brain health is at risk post menopause. It’s worth a watch.
Overall, I am happy Davina has people talking about menopause, with her Menopause Documentaries. As women we need to be informed and aware of our choices. The only way this can happen is if we normalise talking about it. The program challenges the idea “keep calm and carry on” and raises awareness. This is important in and outside of the workplace. However, we need all the facts to make informed decision.
Davina McCall’s Menopause Documentary has helped us take a step in the right direction, but I feel there is a whole lot more on health and wellness she could have explored. This would have provided more balanced information to base decisions on. Employers need to know how effective diet and lifestyle support is for menopause women too. Here I explore these topics and what the documentary neglected to say about other non-medical lifestyle and nutritional options.
Menopause at work
Davina Mc Calls Menopause Documentary uncovered some staggering statistics, regarding menopause at work.
1 in 10 women quit their jobs due to menopause
8 in 10 employers have nothing in place to support women in menopause
52% lost their confidence during menopause.
It’s time all employers were menopause friendly, for the benefit of not just the women but the businesses as well. Afterall, there is a lot of talent and experience being lost in the workplace and everyone misses out. Surprisingly for some the problem is NOT due to the proverbial hot flushes. It’s the psychological effects of menopause like; brain fog, poor memory, headaches, low mood, depression, and anxiety that drive women to find a solution.
The program talked to researchers who explained how impact of low oestrogen on brain energy contributes to these psychological effects. New research points to the neuroprotective effects of female sex hormones, preventing cognitive decline during aging and reducing dementia risk.
It is a real concern for post menopause women. However, the researchers focus reducing inflammation by following a Mediterranean diet which promotes a healthy gut. The gut brain link is widely known. This was not brought out in the program. I felt there was an unnecessary bias towards HRT to prevent the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
Davina Mc Call and Hormone Replacement Therapy HRT
The program focused entirely on Hormone Replacement Therapy as ‘the’ option. This is a form of hormone therapy that replaces the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone that are decreasing throughout perimenopause. It is often in the form of patches and gels that is absorbed through the skin. There is already good information available on this from Dr Louise Newson and the Menopause Charity.
Testosterone and Menopause
Despite being known as a male hormone it is the building block for adrenal hormones like the stress and sex hormones. It was featured as a hormonal option not widely known about or available. But there are lots of reasons that testosterone may be low. Once you know why you can boost it naturally. What is not explained is that post menopause testosterone, oestrogen and progesterone all decline. What is considered “normal” levels depends on a person’s age.
Women’s Health Initiative – Davina McCall’s Menopause Documentary.
In her last documentary Davina highlighted the poor interpretation of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) studies. The investigators made a further analysis that found that risks for certain safety aspects were over-estimated.
It showed additional benefits of HRT use for those starting HRT in the 50-59 age group, or less than 10 years past the menopause. Specifically, HRT was found to lower risk from heart disease, death from any cause and no clear increased risk from stroke. There was an increased risk for those starting over the age of 60.
The main flaw was the study looked at older women that skewed the statistics. Most women seeking support are in the younger age group and well under 60. This change of mind has contributed to the increase in demand for HRT. Davina has added to this shift in thinking.
Women often feel ashamed to admit menopause and the use of HRT seemed like a failure. it HRT can be a lifeline for women. So, it appears like is a step in the right direction……
Davina McCall points to HRT a sign of strength?
Davina McCall has said “Women themselves until recently somehow felt they didn’t deserve this [HRT] and they felt ashamed of it and ashamed to ask for it. They felt it was a sign of weakness. And now it’s a sign of strength.”
WHAT IF HRT IS THE ONLY THING YOU KNOW ABOUT?
Some women are desperate to find relief from symptoms. The pressure to function on the job, and support families could push them towards a medical solution. Whilst I am not against HRT and agree with the WHI analysis, HRT is a medication and does carry some risks. I also strongly believe we have responsibility to take care of ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally too. Healthy living advice and support can go a long way in minimising symptoms and supporting long term health.
True strength is being empowered to find a solution that suits you, not a one-size fits all approach.
Health and wellness
I do like seeing Davina bringing the menopause conversation up on mainstream TV. But I must admit I was a little disappointed not to see the alternatives to HRT explored more on her Menopause Documentary. Now let me be clear, I’m not against HRT. What I disagree with is that Davina makes HRT into a panacea, it is not. Many women don’t find it works for them either. No one thing is the answer to anything. That is why nutritional therapy looks at correcting body system imbalances. addressing the root causes.
Healthy Living Awareness
The thing is not everyone understands how much our health impacts menopause symptoms. It makes sense that if our body isn’t supported, it won’t cope so well. Aggressive symptoms are the bodies way of telling us something is out of balance. Awareness is necessary for women to make an informed decision.
Healthy lifestyle measures were touched on in the program but in no depth. Nutrition and exercise only mentioned regarding women who physically can’t take HRT. There was a short discussion that mentioned only a little about phytoestrogens. I feel it was portrayed as a secondary option. The Mediterranean diet was briefly mentioned in connection with brain health. There were no explanations of what it was.
Not an Either-or situation
It seems to have by passed Davina but you can UTILISE HRT AND SUSTAIN A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE . Surely, we all want to be healthy and live a long active life.
As Davina is a health and fitness advocate I’m surprised she hasn’t discussed it more in her documentaries. I want to see a change in the narrative. Surely as a new generation of menopause women our aim is to be healthier and able to live a long active life? This is true strength, trail blazing a new way forward. Looking at all the options am making an informed decision.
Tips for Davina’s Next Menopause Documentary
Like her first programme on Channel 4 in may 2021 Davina McCall didn’t provide much information on how to improve your health including diet and lifestyle to support menopause. The swing away from HRT in the noughties, may now swing back, but is this really what we want? As intelligent women we need to make informed decisions to do that we need all the facts.
Women have had to do their own research and if they look for it they can easily find evidence that addressing health and work life balance massively improves symptoms.
But every woman should know this. How else can they then make an informed and personal choice?
HRT IS A VALID OPTION BUT IT DOESN’T STAND ALONE
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