Davina McCall says HRT ‘saved’ her career as she breaks silence on challenges of the menopause

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Everyone knows Davina McCall as a straight-talking presenter who’s anything but starry and aloof. And now, despite having previously been warned off speaking up, she’s made a documentary that’s very close to her heart – the menopause.

Channel 4’s Davina McCall: Sex, Myths and the Menopause is all about a subject that can have a huge negative impact on women and their nearest and dearest.

As well as opening up about the huge challenges she has faced along the way during the programme, Davina, 53, also says going on HRT saved her career as it allowed her to carry on working. Here the star tells us more…

Hi Davina, what is the one thing you hope women – and men – take away from this documentary?

Firstly, I hope that friends and relatives and partners of women who are perimenopausal or menopausal will leave this documentary with an enormous amount of compassion for anyone who’s going through it. I hope that women who are at a loss and really don’t know what to do might find a bit of comfort and look at treating themselves with HRT.

How do you think we should or could be better educated about the menopause?

What’s so sad is there are a very small handful of male and female doctors and gynaecologists who are very informed, open-minded and forward thinking. But there are a whole host of other health care professionals who are basically nervous about prescribing HRT or talking about the menopause. When you go to the doctor’s surgery, obviously half of their patients will be women and 100% of those women will go through the menopause, so it seems right to me that a GP would learn about the menopause in medical school. Not all of us will get diabetes or Alzheimer’s but these are illnesses that they do learn about.

What made you go on HRT?

I’m very careful, I don’t smoke, I exercise, I do everything I can to stay fit and healthy, but osteoporosis is no joke and heart disease is a huge killer of people over 50 and that’s no joke either. [HRT is thought to reduce the risk of these conditions.] My dad has Alzheimer’s and it helps with brain health and cognitive health, so for me it was a no-brainer. However, it’s trying to tell people about it in a way that doesn’t make them go, “Oh you’re just a rabid HRT loony.” I don’t want to feel like I’m forcing it down people’s throats at all. But in my case the risks were way outweighed by the benefits.

How important has this treatment been for you?

It is, in many women’s case and in my case, career saving. I definitely would not have been able to continue working had I not gone on HRT. In many women’s case it’s life saving, marriage saving – it’s really, really hard not just on the women going through it, but on the people who love them and surround them. There were nights when I was making this and I would just go home and cry because I would think about the women I’ve spoken to and of the other women who are suffering and can’t access help.

Davina McCall: Sex, Myths and the Menopause airs tonight at 9pm on Channel 4

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