Menopause made me joyless, reveals TV’s Lorraine Kelly

Lorraine Kelly is recalling a holiday in Spain with her husband around a decade ago, when she really wasn’t feeling herself.

Lorraine Kelly at the Women of the Year Awards 2021. Picture : Jonathan Brady/PA.

“We were sitting in the sun, we were having a lovely lunch, we were going to meet friends later – and I was just so miserable and couldn’t feel any joy. I was joyless,” the famously lovely and upbeat TV host reflects.

“That’s what it was, joyless. My husband said, ‘This is not you, is anything bothering you, what are you worried about?’ – because he’s great, I can talk to him about anything, and I said, ‘I honestly don’t know’.”

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Soon after, it did click into place – Kelly was going through menopause. The hormone changes that occur during this phase can affect women very differently, causing a host of physical and mental symptoms of varying severity. While things like hot flushes are well known, often the effects of menopause can creep up on people in much less obvious ways.

“For me, it really manifested in just feeling flat, no joy in anything, it was really strange,” says the Glasgow-born presenter. “As soon as I got HRT, my husband said, ‘I’ve got you back’. I’d got myself back, that’s how it felt; it was amazing.”

Kelly has teamed up with Always Discreet on their new campaign, seeking to redefine our understanding of menopause and empower women to live it ‘their way’. The brand recently surveyed 1,000 UK women – more than half agreed menopause is so much more than ‘when your periods stop’ (how it’s currently defined in the dictionary). Many said they felt unprepared, with 30 per cent saying they wish they’d been more educated about what to expect, and 35 per cent wishing it was more openly discussed. “It does sort of creep up and take us by surprise. Lots of women go, ‘Yeah, we know it’s coming but we don’t really know what it’s all about’. We need to feel better prepared,” says Kelly.

This includes talking about the positive aspects, she says: “We do tend to focus on the negatives a lot, but there are positives as well. That freedom from having your period every month. And it’s just another phase of life, really. More women are living longer and living better lives, which is fantastic. I’m nearly 62 now and I honestly do feel in my prime, I really do. And it’s great, there’s so many more opportunities now. I think there was this stigma that women had the menopause and then you’re over the hill,” Kelly adds. “I might as well have a wee grey perm and get a big coat and get a tartan trolley, you know? It’s not like that, women in their 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond are vibrant and have things to say and want to be heard.”

The negatives though – not just the symptoms but the accompanying distress and isolation of dealing with them unsupported – are important.

Kelly says her eyes were opened when they first did a menopause special segment on her eponymous ITV show about five years ago. “We found it astonishing, the reaction we got from so many women, and men as well whose wives and partners were going through it – saying thank you for doing this, and for helping me realise I wasn’t actually suffering from some sort of mental illness, because it can feel like that sometimes.”

Kelly cites Over The Bloody Moon (overthebloodymoon.com), who’ve also teamed up on the Always Discreet campaign, as a great source of reliable information. It features a team of clinicians and menopause specialists, runs masterclasses alongside a range of tools, personal blogs and a podcast.

She says: “This generation that’s coming up after us are amazing anyway, they ask questions, they’re curious, they want to know about things, they’ve got the internet which is brilliant and of course I didn’t have. And all of that – slowly, slowly – makes it less of a taboo. And that’s what we want.”