Podcast

Episode 157: Midlife update, solo with Rachel

Mag Mid podcast host Rachel is flying solo this week, talking about what’s been happening in her world. There’s a trip to the UK Houses of Parliament and a book recommendation in the New York Times in the mix! Check out what’s been catching her attention lately.

She talks about:

  • The success of the MenoClarity live event and how you can still access the recordings
  • Going to the heart of Government to talk about menopause
  • Menopause narratives and how they seem to keep getting worse
  • Her book, Magnificent Midlife, being recommended in the New York Times
  • The podcast season to date featuring: avoiding burnout, the crisis of care, staying fit as we age, healing through memoir, getting back on stage, digital publishing and traveling the world
  • Gendered ageism
  • Digital exclusion
  • How the Masters is going

And lots more!

Meeting Carolyn Harris MP at the Houses of Parliament

Resources mentioned:

You can still listen to the MenoClarity Live recordings: https://bit.ly/menoclaritylive

New York Times: (7 Books to Guide You Through Menopause): https://www.nytimes.com/2023/07/18/well/live/menopause-books.html

Why not explore more..

Being wiser about menopause with Tania Elfersy

Tania Elfersy talks about how we can be wiser about the menopause transition, so we suffer less and feel its power more.

Why we need more MenoClarity

Talking to the founders of MenoClarity about why we’ve come together and what we hope to achieve with this group.

Why I Want To Change The Menopause Narrative

Menopause gets a bad rap. How about we re-frame it and change the menopause narrative, so we stop fighting it, and instead embrace it and find its gifts.

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share it and leave a review on iTunes or wherever you’re listening.  Thank you!

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Podcast

Episode 136: Midlife update, solo with Rachel

Rachel’s back with a solo update on what’s been happening in her world and the exciting launch of MenoClarity.

She talks about:

  • An update on her mum post breaking her hip
  • Adapting to a new way of living
  • The fluctuation of mental capacity
  • Digital exclusion and Internet upgrade issues
  • Levels of customer service for older people and how those need to change
  • The wonders of the Amazon Alexa Show
  • Her trip to the Philippines
  • Working remotely and more wonders of technology
  • Setting up MenoClarity – who the team is and their aims
  • Creating unbiased balance when it comes to menopause
  • Stopping the climate of fear and creating better narratives for all women especially young ones
  • Questioning the over promotion of hormone therapy and especially as a preventative medicine
  • The original source of the menopause as a hormone deficiency narrative – the 1966 book Feminine Forever, financed by HRT manufacturers
  • How the women in the Blue Zones do not owe their long healthful lives to hormone therapy
  • Use of the phrase medical gaslighting to shut down discussion
  • International Women’s Day and what older women need to thrive
  • Equity versus equality

And more!

Resources mentioned:

Amazon Alexa Show

MenoClarity

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share it and leave a review on iTunes or wherever you’re listening.  Thank you!

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Podcast

Episode 115: Getting the facts straight about menopause solo with Rachel

A solo episode from Rachel talking about menopause and gendered ageism. You can read a transcription of this episode here.

Rachel talks about:

  • Why she still hasn’t moved on from talking about menopause yet
  • The importance of balance around narratives around menopause
  • The impact of gendered ageism on menopause
  • The hormone deficiency narrative and why it drives Rachel nuts
  • Connecting menopause advice and money
  • The importance of staying curious about the message and the messenger
  • New voices in the media talking about menopause
  • The role of HRT and how it’s being promoted
  • HRT and breast cancer
  • Why HRT for life for most women is unnecessary
  • The whales and the Blue Zones
  • How data has been manipulated around menopause
  • Menopause and suicide
  • How some information in the public domain about menopause is plain wrong
  • The $600 billion business opportunity of menopause

And more!

Rachel’s blog – Menopause And Alcohol – What’s Helpful To Know.

Rachel’s research about the 900,000 women have left work figure.

Rachel’s research on the correlation between menopause and suicide.

Order the ebook or audiobook (narrated by Rachel) versions of Rachel’s book, Magnificent Midlife: Transform Your Middle Years, Menopause And Beyond at magnificentmidlife.com/book

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share it and maybe leave a review on iTunes or wherever you’re listening.  Thank you!

Find out how to leave a review here.

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Podcast

Episode 113: How to end ageism with Ashton Applewhite (Re-Release)

Here’s another gem from the podcast archives in our summer season. Ashton Applewhite is an author, speaker and anti-ageism activist. I discovered her work about six years ago and have been quoting her daily ever since. Ashton got a standing ovation when she did a main stage Ted talk called Let’s end ageism. She was invited to speak at the UN. Her book is amazing: This Chair Rocks, A Manifesto Against Ageism. She’s my ultimate mentor when it comes to everything I now believe about ageing and gendered ageism.

In this amazing interview we talk about:

  • How Ashton never had a life plan or knew what she wanted to be
  • Why we worship youth in Anglo-Saxon cultures
  • The lack of products and services for older people
  • How we often don’t like to identify as being in midlife or older
  • How facing the ageing monsters is useful
  • How fears about ageing are totally out of proportion to reality
  • Our attitudes towards ageing affect how we age
  • The U-Curve of Happiness
  • How midlife is a time of reckoning
  • How ageism starts between our ears
  • How we need to be more generous towards each other and ourselves
  • When we compete to stay young we reinforce ageism, sexism and the patriarchy
  • How raising consciousness about ageing and ageism is key
  • Why we should be able to compete for 100% of the seats at any table
  • How to stop reinforcing the shame associated with ageing
  • Being aware of intersectionality when considering prejudice
  • The importance of language relating to age
  • Ashton’s knees and not blaming non-age-related issues on age
  • Continuing the movement

And more!

Find out more about Ashton:

Ashton’s website: thischairrocks.com

Ashton’s book: This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism

Watch Ashton’s Ted Talk:

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | Linkedin

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share it and maybe leave a review on iTunes or wherever you’re listening.  Thank you!

Find out how to leave a review here.

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Podcast

Episode 100: Making sense of midlife with Mr Magnificent

A very special 100th episode of the podcast as I welcome the first man on to the podcast, my husband Mark Estdale, who has shared my Magnificent Midlife journey over the last sixteen years.

We talk about:

  • Our support animal
  • How I managed to persuade Mark to come on my podcast
  • How Ashton Applewhite’s words on ageism impacted us both
  • The importance of learning and being open as we move through midlife
  • Getting men to embrace this period, especially for the women in their lives
  • The rollercoaster of Rachel’s early menopause diagnosis and how it happened
  • Reversing the early menopause diagnosis for a time
  • The pain of secondary infertility
  • How we both became aware of the negative narratives around women, menopause and aging 
  • Learning to appreciate the cyclicality of women and the power that can come from that
  • Society’s attitudes towards menstruation, menopause and lack of awareness
  • How and why heterosexual relationships can break down in midlife
  • The evolution of our relationship including our sexual one
  • The misrepresentation of data when it comes to menopause
  • The still waters after menopause
  • Current narratives around HRT and the importance of a holistic approach
  • The importance of curiosity, exploring ideas and challenging dogma
  • Fear driven narratives around menopause and HRT
  • How Mark thinks Rachel has changed
  • Trusting that the dots will connect when you look back in the future
  • The book baby
  • Ground flaxseed, yoga, exercise in general and cutting down on alcohol
  • Barefoot shoes
  • Mark’s advice to other men with menopausal partners

And more!

Bogey, the baby substitute

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.”

STEVE JOBS

To celebrate this 100th episode you can get 50% off Rachel’s book, Magnificent Midlife: Transform Your Middle Years, Menopause and Beyond with the code PODCAST100 at magnificentmidlife.com/book

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Podcast

Episode 99: Upgrading the menopause conversation with Clarissa Kristjansson

Clarissa Kristjansson is a Mindfulness and Menopause expert, author of The Mindful Menopause, and host of the brilliant Thriving Thru Menopause podcast. She’s on a mission to change the way women approach menopause and aging. The last time we got together, we had such a brilliant conversation, on her podcast, I just had to share her with you. We both get quite hot under the collar about a lot of the same issues.

We talk about:

  • How Clarissa got so passionate about menopause
  • Why it’s so important to take a holistic approach to menopause
  • The importance of mindfulness when it comes to a good menopause experience
  • What annoys Clarissa about the prevailing narratives surrounding menopause
  • The myths around menopause
  • How women can be proactive and not just reactive about their menopause experience
  • The use of data when it comes to menopause
  • Understanding and contextualizing data presented
  • Menopause at work
  • Sexism and ageism and their insidious intersection
  • The female brain drain in midlife
  • Making work work better for women, especially older ones
  • Clarissa’s top tips for thriving through menopause

And more!

Find more about Clarissa:

Clarissa’s website: clarissakristjansson.com

Instagram | Twitter

Clarissa’s book: The Mindful Menopause: The Secret to Balance, Vitality and Clarity Through The Change

Listen to her podcast: Thriving Thru Menopause

Organizations which have lists of produce most susceptible to hazardous pesticides mentioned on the podcast:

Environmental Working Group

Pesticide Action Network UK

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share it and maybe leave a review on iTunes or wherever you’re listening.  Thank you!

Find out how to leave a review here. 

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Blog

Getting Truly Revolutionary About Menopause

I’m full of admiration for the women who’ve shared their experience of menopause, so others can get the support they need. We’ve seen a dramatic change in the UK, culminating in the menopause revolution campaign that took menopause to the heart of government and resulted in big changes which will benefit all women. It’s good that we’re talking more about menopause, that it’s being discussed in the workplace and organisations are embracing menopause policies. I’m delighted menopause is now included in the school curriculum so women’s sex education no longer ends with childbirth. It would be good to see more in the med school curriculum but there is gaining momentum thanks to those campaigning for change. It’s important that women who need HRT have access to it and are not penalised because of where they live or whether they can afford a regular prescription.

#menopauserevolution

There are good things happening. But I question the overwhelmingly negative narratives about menopause, that seem to be getting worse not better, as well as the over-selling of HRT as the panacea to ‘fix’ it. Respected menopause specialists and campaigners are describing menopause as a hormone deficiency and promoting long-term use of HRT as a preventative measure against age-related disease. Women are becoming scared that if they don’t take HRT long-term, they’ll be at risk of Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, heart disease and even suicide.  

This narrative harks back to the book Feminine Forever published in 1966 which described menopause as a deficiency that could be cured with hormone therapy. In his best-selling book, Robert A Wilson maintained that menopause was a serious, painful, and crippling estrogen-deficiency disease that should be treated with estrogen replacement therapy to prevent the otherwise inevitable “living decay”. He promoted the use of a drug that healthy women would take every day for the rest of their lives, so they could remain feminine forever.

Wilson wrote, “All postmenopausal women are castrates.” With HRT, “a woman’s breasts and genital organs will not shrivel. She will be much more pleasant to live with and will not become dull and unattractive.” It was later found that the book and promotional tours were financed by the drug companies producing HRT. Have we really not moved on from this ageist, misogynistic narrative about menopause and the place in society of post-menopausal women? Are women to be disempowered about how they manage their own health in later life? Is this the menopause revolution?

To add to the gloom, Carolyn Harris MP and Penny Lancaster wrote recently about a correlation they saw between menopause, depression and suicide. They quoted a 16-fold increase in depression in women aged 45-52 and a “staggering” 7-fold increase in suicide in women aged 40-50. They said that around 20% of perimenopausal and menopausal women present to their GP with symptoms of depression. Where did they see this headline grabbing data? Is it from peer-reviewed research? What country or region does it relate to and over what time period?  Or rather, does the use of unqualified data to make a point that needs making, also undermine the very point being raised?

If we assume all women 45-52 (or 55 or later) are either perimenopausal or menopausal, does that mean that 20% of all women in that (undefined) age group are presenting as depressed to their GP? How many women is that? Maybe what was meant is that of the women who go to their doctor with problems when they are perimenopausal or menopausal, 20% of those women present with symptoms of depression. That’s a different number but equally ambiguous.

Where does this unqualified data come from? I tried to find out how many women there are aged 45-52 in the UK, for example, to see how many 20% might represent. There was a census done in 2021 in England and Wales, but the results have not been published. So I can’t even get the total number of women in this potential age range, let alone how many go to the doctor. Is there some public data on what women discuss with their GPs that I’m unaware of? The information is powerful, but it helps to know where it comes from, as well as its context.

#menopauserevolution

I’ve seen similar data about suicide and menopause presented as fact in the past, again without referencing a source. The Office for National Statistics (ONS), reports that women aged 50-54 exhibited the highest rate of suicide in England and Wales (specifically in 2019), but the actual rate was only 7.4 women per 100,000 population. This rate compares with 6.9 women per 100,000 in the 45-49 age range, 6.6 aged 40-44, and 6.1 aged 35-39. From age 55, the suicide rate for women decreases until age 80-84.

Of course, any rate of suicide is awful. But these are tiny increases between age ranges, and the rate of male suicide is far greater than that of women in every age group. The ONS also noted a significant increase in suicide rates in males aged 10-24, 25-44 and 45-64, in England and Wales, since 2017. All data needs context. We should most certainly be asking questions about suicide rate change. But we need the full picture.

Suicide rates are higher for women around menopause, but can we conclude menopause is the cause? Other factors that peak at that time are redundancies, divorce and the death of a parent. Women may also be dealing with children leaving home, looking after elderly parents, and feeling the weight of the insidious combination of ageism and sexism that exists in our society and in the workplace especially. Not to mention the negativity and fear around menopause already mentioned. Big birthdays and their ‘over the hill’ cards can also be painful as we grapple with status anxiety and what we have achieved in life so far. The U-Curve of Happiness states that 47 is the unhappiest age for men and women.  We’re also being told that over a million women could leave work because of menopause but again, is menopause the main culprit? How reliable is that research? Menopause may be hard for some, but no data I know of states it is the predominant cause of this increase in suicide rates for women.

When researching my book, I discovered that how we feel about ageing affects how we age. If we feel good about ageing, we are more likely to look after ourselves and therefore age in a more healthful way. Perhaps the way women feel about menopause and getting older has a direct impact on their experience of the transition too. I’m not saying it’s mind over matter. Far from it. However, a positive attitude towards menopause enables curiosity about what is going on when we start to experience changes.  Menopause may not even be to blame for what’s going on.  It’s not an illness to fix, it’s a transition, much like puberty in reverse, from the monthly hormonal roller coaster to still, deep waters. Menopause expert, Dr Jen Gunter recently said on Twitter, “menopause is no more a state of estrogen deficiency than being a child is.”  

#menopauserevolution

I believe menopause issues are the body’s early warning system, the canary in the mine, warning us that all may not be right with the way we live our lives. How did I come to this conclusion? When I was 41 I was given a diagnosis of early menopause. I was trying for a second child and had a hormone test. I was told I had the hormonal profile of a postmenopausal woman and no chance of having a child. I did some research, changed my diet and how I live, and within three months of getting that diagnosis, I was menstruating again and had a pre-menopausal hormonal profile back for a while.  I didn’t get the baby, but I did learn that changing my diet and how I lived, had a direct impact on my hormonal balance and general health.  I learnt to be proactive not reactive when it came to my menopause transition.

The diagnosis was made all the worse because of my emotional response to it. I walked out of the doctor’s office feeling like a dried up old prune. No one had told me that my life was over, but I felt like it. On reflection I had succumbed, hook, line and sinker, to the negative narratives about menopause and aging that are fed to women all our lives and relentlessly promoted by the marketing assault of the global ‘beauty’ industry: that youth and looking young are best, that we lose our beauty and value as we age, that we need to cover up signs of ageing, and that midlife and menopause mark the end of meaningful life. We can also add ‘menopause as hormone deficiency’ to that long list of negative narratives. It was only because I discovered and created more positive narratives and different ways of living that I managed to bring myself out of my midlife depression.  If I were going through that now, I could also be feeling terrified of what lay ahead as a hormonally deficient woman.

I took HRT for seven years because of early menopause, but weaned myself off at the average menopause age of 51, as I was advised to do, if I felt OK. I have managed any issues since with diet and lifestyle changes. I want women to have the whole picture about menopause. Especially now, when menopause is again being positioned as a deficiency, to fix with HRT, as opposed to a natural and freeing stage of life where HRT may help. Some women are currently also finding it difficult to get hold of HRT. I want women to know they can make changes that will help with or without it. These include reducing intake of sugar, alcohol and caffeine, eating good food regularly to maintain blood sugar levels, reducing toxins in food and personal products, reducing stress or finding better ways to manage it, increasing intake of natural phytoestrogens that can be found in soy, flax and other seeds, for example, increasing exercise and losing weight if, hand on heart, you know you’re carrying a bit too much.

There’s no doubt HRT can help many women, and some need it, but there are also many other more natural ways to help women through the menopause transition. Some menopause practitioners suggest we need hormone therapy now because we didn’t live long enough to suffer in the past and we’re in more danger of age-related disease as a result. This isn’t based in fact either. The loss of menstruation with age is noted in both ancient Chinese and Greek medical writings. In 1680, life expectancy for a woman at age 15 (in other words, having survived childhood) in England and Wales was 56.6 years, rising to 64.6 years by 1780. Clearly, life expectancy differed depending on location, relative wealth, health, race, and so on, but at least in the British Isles, many women were living longer a lot earlier than some commentators suggest. If age-related disease is increasing, I suspect modern life is to blame.

When I read of women again being advised to take HRT forever for long-term health, I can’t help thinking that Wilson’s book has had a lingering impact on how we as a society and individually view postmenopausal women. No one can claim that long-term use of HRT is completely safe, at least not for another 20 years. The HRT manufacturers must be delighted at the prospect of every woman taking their drug for life. As with global sales of anti-aging creams and hair dye, just imagine how much money that would involve! I always say, follow the money.

menopause revolution fist

A true menopause revolution will happen when menopause moves from being a taboo subject brought to awareness through fear tactics, to being seen in its rightful place as a powerful transition in a woman’s life. When we embrace it as heralding a new and magnificent next chapter, rather than labelling it as a ‘hormone deficiency’ that will blight us to the grave. When we recognise that we don’t need to be reactive to menopause, but can take a proactive and empowered response to our experience of it. When we stop blaming lack of estrogen for every midlife and age-related issue, and instead scrutinize modern life and endemic gendered ageism. When women are not scared into believing they must have HRT to prevent them getting heart disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, or even suicidal. Maybe it’s a counter-revolution we need! Let’s empower women to feel prepared not scared.

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Podcast

Episode 10: Ending ageism with Ashton Applewhite

Ashton Applewhite is an author, speaker and anti-ageism activist. Rachel discovered her work about three years ago and has been quoting her daily ever since. Ashton got a standing ovation when she did a main stage Ted talk called Let’s end ageism. She was invited to speak at the UN. She’s recently republished her book This Chair Rocks, A Manifesto Against Ageism.

In this amazing interview we talk about:

  • How Ashton never had a life plan or knew what she wanted to be
  • Why we worship youth in Anglo-Saxon cultures
  • The lack of products and services for older people
  • How we often don’t like to identify as being in midlife or older
  • How facing the ageing monsters is useful
  • How fears about ageing are totally out of proportion to reality
  • Our attitudes towards ageing affect how we age
  • The U-Curve of Happiness
  • How midlife is a time of reckoning
  • How ageism starts between our ears
  • How we need to be more generous towards each other and ourselves
  • When we compete to stay young we reinforce ageism, sexism and the patriarchy
  • How raising consciousness about ageing and ageism is key
  • Why we should be able to compete for 100% of the seats at any table
  • How to stop reinforcing the shame associated with ageing
  • Being aware of intersectionality when considering prejudice
  • The importance of language relating to age
  • Ashton’s knees and not blaming non-age related issues on age
  • Continuing the movement

And more!

Find out more about Ashton:

Ashton’s website: thischairrocks.com

Ashton’s book: This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism

Watch Ashton’s Ted Talk:

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube | Linkedin

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share it and maybe leave a review on iTunes or wherever you’re listening.  Thank you!

Find out how to leave a review here.

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