How Meg Mathews, 52, is coping with the menopause
Water, weight training and cannabis oil are three of the most important ways to stay strong during the menopause, according to Meg Mathews.
If passing your half-century means you should be slowing down, Meg Mathews does not appear to have read the memo. She is now 52 and showing levels of energy and enthusiasm that most people don’t achieve at any age. But getting to where she is now has been very far from easy.
In the 1990s, Mathews became one of the faces of the whole Britpop/Cool Britannia thing that was sweeping the nation back in the days when Tony Blair still seemed like a good idea.
As the wife of Oasis’s Noel Gallagher, whose songs helped put Britain back on the musical map, Mathews experienced all the highs and lows of fame.
At first it was thrilling, but then her treatment at the hands of press and paparazzi turned into an ordeal.
‘I had the worst experience,’ she told me on the Healthy Beast podcast. ‘In the early 2000s they were horrific to me. One minute I was the girl that met Noel Gallagher, the Paul and Linda McCartney of the 90s, and then all of a sudden, as they do with everything, they got me.’
She added: ‘It was absolutely exhausting, and it wasn’t even the nicest things all the time… the press just decided that they were going to make me a target, for unknown reasons, and it went on for years.’
But the 1990s is a long time ago. The marriage is long over, but Mathews and Gallagher still get on, and appear to have done a very good job of bringing up their 18-year-old daughter, Anais.
Anais Gallagher has modelled for Dolce & Gabbana, is the new face of Reebok and is a contributing fashion editor for Tatler – an issue of which she posted on Instagram recently, when she starred on the cover accompanied by the headline ‘Britpop 2.0 comes of age’. She is outspoken on animal and women’s rights and appears to have a very grown-up head on her young body.
Mathews herself came around to the sensible life in a slightly more roundabout way. Following much publicised partying with the likes of Kate Moss and Sadie Frost, there were bouts of depression and stints in rehab. Then just as she was about to turn 50 she was hit by another blow: the menopause.
At first Mathews did not know what was happening, she just felt wiped out, anxious and couldn’t sleep. She was prescribed anti-depressants – which were, in her to-the-point manner, ‘shit’. They were a temporary help with the anxiety, but robbed her of even more energy.
When she realised that the menopause was at the root of her problems, she set about getting back to full health and became passionate about helping other women.
She was ‘shocked’ by the lack of support and understanding shown to women at this time in their lives and made it her mission to break the stigma around the menopause.
She started megsmenopause.com, providing advice and support for women like her to help them understand the symptoms that accompany the menopause and what they can do to alleviate them.
She writes about such topics as loss of libido, vaginal dryness and anxiety and brings experts in to talk about how to handle the issues and the things that can help.
When it comes to her own menopause symptoms – Meg says she had 32 of the 34 most common, which she lists on her website – Meg developed her own ways to cope.
She has the start of osteoporosis, a bone weakening condition that killed her mother, and stresses the importance of lifting weights to maintain strength and bone density.
She is evangelical about drinking plenty of water, and she has started to take cannabidiol, or CBD.
Often referred to as cannabis oil, CBD is the non-psychoactive compound found in marijuana and hemp. The resulting oil does not have the THC element that gets you high, which also means it is legal to buy.
It has been used to treat a whole range of conditions and was recently cleared by the Home Secretary for use as a prescription medicine.
After being recommended CBD oil by a friend for her anxiety, Meg began to take it daily. ‘I’ve spoken a lot about my anxiety during the menopause and even though I was taking HRT, I still had anxiety on most days,’ she said. ‘Not long after taking the CBD oil, I noticed that I was feeling much calmer and less anxious.
‘For me, the worst kind of anxiety is the anxiety that has no root cause; feeling anxious for no reason at all was one of the worst things about my menopause experience.
Now, Meg says that her anxiety levels have dropped to ‘practically nothing’. ‘A lot of people have noticed the difference in me and I feel a sense of calm that I haven’t felt for a very long time,’ she says.
‘I was really pleasantly surprised because I really couldn’t believe that something so simple could help me so much. But I noticed a huge change in myself.’
Not only did the CBD oil help with Meg’s anxiety, it also helped with her insomnia, assisted in getting her off the anti-depressants she was taking for her anxiety – and pretty much cured her joint pain, too.
She was so impressed by the effects that she has designed her own range of CBD products, including CBD gummy bears, and started selling them through her website.
Anything you take must be part of an overall healthy approach to life, she says – hence the water and the weights – but the CBD, which she talks about passionately on her blog and her Instagram, has been a major factor.
She may once have been known for her hedonistic lifestyle, but she is going at her health kick just as hard. Now Meg says she says she gets far more of a thrill from helping women with their health problems than she ever did from impressing people with red carpet outfits.
Talking about all the positive feedback she gets online for the advice she gives, she said: ‘I love it, there’s nothing better’. She tells how she recently looked back at the comments on one of her old, rather more glamorous Instagram posts. ‘Everyone was saying, “we love your shoes”, or “we love your dress” – I just thought, no, let’s go back on Megsmenopause, because that means so much more to me.’
The advice she is giving seems to be working for her too – she looks like she’s having more fun as a health guru than she ever did as a party girl.
Meg was speaking to Richard Holt of the Healthy Beast podcast, which you can listen to here or find on Instagram.
WHAT IS THE MENOPAUSE AND WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
The menopause is the exact point in your life when you have stopped having periods for a total of 12 months.
This usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55. The average age in the UK is 51. The menopause is caused by changes in your hormone levels. When your body is at its most fertile, estrogen and progesterone keep your periods and production of eggs regular. As you get older, you can’t store as many eggs in your ovaries and you might find it harder to conceive. That is because your body is producing less and less estrogen. This gradual process is called the perimenopause.
The menopause is a natural process that every woman will eventually go through. Some of you may have quite a difficult experience while others may sail through it. Your experience of the menopause will greatly depend on a number of things including body type, family history and lifestyle. There are 34 common symptoms of menopause, which include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and fatigue, and are typically due to the natural decline in estrogen. Fortunately, all symptoms are manageable through lifestyle and diet changes, as well as natural and medical treatments.
1. Hot Flushes
2. Night Sweats
3. Loss of Libido
4. Vaginal Dryness
5. Irregular Periods
8. Panic Disorders
9. Difficulty Concentrating
10. Mood Swings
11. Foggy Brain
14. Hair Loss
15. Sleep Problems
17. Weight Gain
20. Brittle Nails
22. Irregular Heartbeat
23. Changes in Body Odour
24. Bladder Problems
25. Breast Pain
27. Joint Pain
28. Burning Mouth
29. Electric Shock
30. Nausea and Digestive Problems
31. Dental Problems
32. Muscle Tension
33. Dry and Itchy Skin
34. Tingling Extremities
This story is part of Fertility Diaries, an ongoing series covering all aspects of fertility.
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