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Penny Lancaster and Carolyn Harris MP back new menopause campaign to get people talking

Our Let's #ChatMenopause campaign aims to break down barriers and make menopause an everyday part of conversation


Penny Lancaster has spoken out about her experience of starting menopause during lockdown as part of our new Let’s #ChatMenopause campaign, to mark Menopause Awareness Month this October.

In a video for the campaign, Penny speaks candidly with Carolyn Harris MP about how she thought her symptoms were initially due to lockdown and how the onset of menopause symptoms affected her husband, Rod Stewart, and their family.

Penny says: “I threw the dinner plates across the kitchen because my voice, I didn’t feel was being heard or my symptoms weren’t being noticed...and Rod ushering the kids out of the room at the time, but also within five minutes, them coming back in, [putting] their arms around me and saying, ‘it’s going to be okay Mummy.’

“And even though that was a really hard and sad time, it was a really special moment when my husband and children were both there for me and realised, ‘okay, we’re not going to let Mummy suffer anymore. This isn’t just her having a bad day. She really needs some help, she needs doctors to intervene and give her the medication. Which I didn’t realise was going to be so groundbreaking because the moment I was on that, within just a few months, it was like my whole life had just turned around. My confidence came back and I could smile again.”

In the video, Carolyn also shares how she ignored many of her symptoms and thought she was having a nervous breakdown. She says: “I don’t think people realise how raw it feels when you first realise you are menopausal. I mean, I didn’t realise until I was eight years into my menopause. I thought I was having a nervous breakdown.

“When I lost my son, Martyn in 1989, I never allowed myself to stop and think about what had happened to me. I was prescribed antidepressants and had this awful pink anorak with a fur hood that I would wear everywhere. I just had no self-confidence. I felt I was offending people by being me or by being there. It was a horrible, horrible, horrible feeling. When I think back now about all the other symptoms I was feeling, I just completely ignored them.“

Penny and Carolyn’s video is one of a series of short films we have produced for our Let’s #ChatMenopause campaign.

Other inspiring women involved include TV and radio broadcaster Zoe Hardman, former Olympian Michelle Griffith-Robinson, and TV doctor and Wellbeing of Women Ambassador, Dr Nighat Arif.

It comes after more than 4 in 5 UK women aged 45-65 (86%) told us they believe public awareness, education and conversation about menopause are too low, leaving many unsure where to turn for information and support.

Our Let’s #ChatMenopause campaign is highlighting the different menopause experiences that women can have, helping to break down barriers by normalising conversations and encouraging others to open up.

Watch the Let's #ChatMenopause campaign videos and share your story on social media.

Let’s #ChatMenopause videos

Catch-up on our Let’s #ChatMenopause campaign videos:

Penny Lancaster and Carolyn Harris MP share their experiences of the menopause

Broadcaster Zoe Hardman and her sister talk about how they supported each other through early menopause (called primary ovarian insufficiency)

Dr Nighat Arif, Michelle Griffith-Robinson and Meera Bhogal discuss race and the menopause

TV presenter Kate Thornton speaks to women from the Armed Forces about how the menopause has affected their confidence and careers

A group of Tesco colleagues discuss their experiences of menopause, including two women whose menopause was medically induced, and highlight the need for more education.