Jo and Ann from Hot Flush on Life, the Menopause and Everything
Cucumber's seriously chuffed to have the fabulous Jo and Ann, founders of Hot Flush, blogging with us this month. Read on to hear their story, and what moved them to create their new community.
Jo McEwan, co-founder of www.hotflush.info
‘You’re perimenopausal’, said my doctor, during a routine appointment almost three years ago. I looked at her, nonplussed, despite the fact that I was turning 50!
So began a menopause journey which led to my partner Ann & I, launching our menopause support website, www.hotflush.info in October 2017 and landing a coveted spot on Woman’s Hour, three months later.
Our story really began when I listened to Jenni Murray talking about the mysterious menopause on Woman’s Hour roughly ten years ago. Back then, I thought that by the time I met menopause, there'd be huge awareness, women would have a voice and would know exactly what they needed to do, to be in control of this inevitable life event. As Ann and I approached our own menopause watershed moments, conversations with contemporaries and internet trawls showed this wasn’t the case! Too many intelligent women told us how unprepared they’d been, how unaware they were of what was happening to them and more importantly, how little they knew about how best to deal with menopause! We felt compelled to start our own website informing women about the range of options available for managing their own specific perimenopause and menopause symptoms.
Let’s face it, menopause isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time but we aimed to bring colour to this grey subject. Our hope is that the menopausal women of today, who look to their smartphones for solutions, will find our site relatable, visually-appealing, accessible and upbeat. Ann and I love the music that’s always been a big part of lives. We’ve taken a number of tongue in cheek song titles from the musical gems we love, linking the music we grew up with, to menopause symptoms. Anyone with Spotify can enjoy these tunes with us. We want to make women smile as they dip in and out of our site but also to emphasise that we’re still those same women who grew up in the 70s and 80s, we’re just having a menopause!
With no medical training, we’ve been fortunate to make links with a number of experts, (including the gynaecologist Dr Karen Morton who wrote a recent blog for Cucumber Clothing), nutritionists, women’s health physiotherapists, a dentist, a sexual psychotherapist and an acupuncturist, who’ve all taken part in our vlogs or blogs. It’s been uplifting to see how generously the women we’ve reached out to, have responded to our Hot Flush invitation to share their expertise or experiences with us. In this last week alone, we’ve:
Talked to a sexual psychotherapist about dealing with relationship difficulties in menopause when women’s libido falls and/or vaginal dryness kicks in
Met with Cucumber Clothing to talk about their new range and to plan our upcoming vlog with them
Filmed a vlog for simple but important exercises women can do at home, with well-being coach and menopause adviser, Jane Dowling
Visited iconic red-carpet celebrity photographer Dave Hogan’s exhibition, ‘Hogie’s Heroes’, celebrating 40 years of Dave’s work with iconic musicians: Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Prince and so many more from our era. Our visit was topped off with a photo session with Dave, so exciting!
Filmed a fantastic, advice-filled vlog about restoring those pelvic floor muscles and preventing prolapse, with women’s health physiotherapists Christien Bird and Sophie Vohralik to go on our website at the beginning of March.
Working collaboratively helps us to share the most up-to-date and relevant thinking and recommendations, on all things menopause and beyond! How thrilled were we to take part in the recent Woman’s Hour and BBC Radio Sheffield Menopause Special, a whole week of programmes dedicated to capturing the zeitgeist of the modern menopause? Over the course of a week, the programmes looked at the impact of menopause symptoms on women’s mental health, work lives, relationships and overall health, acknowledging that for 3 out of 4 women, menopause can creep into all aspects of their life, unannounced, uninvited and unwanted! Hot Flush were invited to take part in the final programme of the week sharing positive tips and lifestyle advice for women in menopause. I appeared alongside 90’s party girl Meg Matthews who has her own menopause website and Professor Myra Hunter, Professor of Clinical Health Psychology, who talked about the role Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can play in managing menopause symptoms. Who’d have thought all those years ago, that Jenni Murray would have been asking me for our website’s top tips on dealing with menopause? It was a joy to be asked and to participate.
As celebrities and women in media approach the end of their fifth decade, more and more they’re talking menopause in the public arena. The word ‘menopause’ regularly runs across newspaper banners, the front covers of glossy magazines and inside weekend supplements. It was previously unimaginable that someone like Yasmin Le Bon of 80’s supermodel fame, would one day open up about her menopause mayhem. Going forward, it seems that there’s more awareness-raising taking place but there’s still plenty of room for improvement. Women’s health education is slowly catching up with us but media is putting menopause under the spotlight. I might have been a little off with my timing ten years ago, but watch this space, women born in the late 70s will be better-equipped for dealing with the onset of perimenopause than my generation were. That’s progress!
For more up-to-date, concise information on managing your menopause through diet, exercise and lifestyle, visit www.hotflush.info (see our Hot Flush symptoms pages for tips on keeping your cool at night http://www.hotflush.info/sleepless-nights-insomnia)
You can follow Hot Flush on Instagram, Twitter and Spotify @_hotflush