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Davina McCall has revealed she once thought she was suffering from early onset dementia, when in reality she was battling the menopause.
The former Big Brother host is one of the most famed TV presenters in Britain, but she worried she'd have to pack TV presenting in for good at the young age of 44.
Davina, 54, was suffering from a "horrific" brain fog which left her unable to read autocues or remember celebrity's names.
Brain fog is a key symptom of the perimenopause, which Davina described as the menopause's "evil little sister".
The perimenopause is the transitional period before the menopause, which tends to occur when women between the ages of 40 and 44.
However, Davina never told anybody about the fact she was struggling as she was too "full of shame" to admit what she was going through.
Davina opened up about her menopause symptoms in a new Channel 4 documentary called Davina McCall: Sex, Mind and the Menopause, which airs on Monday (May 2) at 9pm.
The programme is a sequel to Davina's first menopause documentary called Sex, Myths and the Menopause, which came out last year.
In the doc, Davina speaks to a range of medical professionals and women who have struggled in the workplace as a result of their debilitating menopause symptoms.
One emotional scene shows Davina speak to former tech high-flyer Paula Fry, who suffered memory loss as a result of her menopause.
She told Davina: "My symptoms I can pin back to when I was about 43. Went to a big tech firm, had a lot to learn. Great job, and I couldn’t remember what I was doing.
When Davina asked her if she knew it was the menopause affecting her memory, Paula replied: "No, I thought I had early onset dementia."
Davina then admitted: "I did, too," before Paula recalled how her menopause symptoms wreaked havoc on her city job.
She said:" I spent a lot of time really worrying and masking it. I had heavy bleeding, quite a bit of pain every month. I used to have three pairs of pants on.
"I’ve been in meetings where I’ve been the only woman in a room full of ten men, and I’ve got to stand up and maybe finish a pitch and shake hands with a lot of people and I’m grimacing inside, thinking. ‘Oh god, check the chair. Can I shuffle out and find the loo?'"
She worried she wasn't clever enough to do her job, but like Davina, she didn't tell anybody about what was happening to her.
Davina herself opened up about the time she "seriously thought" she would have to give up TV presenting because of her brain fog.
She said: "Brain fog is horrific. I mean, when I had it, I couldn't read autocue. Something would happen to my eyes. I couldn't remember celebrity's names.
Davina added: "I seriously thought I was going to have to give up presenting."
She insisted she was 'okay' when people asked her how she was doing as she was too 'ashamed'.
Davina went on: "And when I got asked if I was okay, I said 'yes'. I was so full of shame about what was going on that I just couldn't talk to people.
"And it breaks my heart that ten years later, women are still struggling, are still ashamed and embarrassed about something that's completely natural. It's got to change."
The presenter credited Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) with changing her life for the better and alleviating her menopause symptoms.
According to the NHS, HRT is a treatment to relieve symptoms of the menopause by replacing hormones that are a lower level as you approach the menopause.
Some of the benefits of HRT include relieving menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, vaginal dryness and reduced sex drive.
Although there is a risk of breast cancer in some types of HRT, the benefits of HRT are believed to outweigh the risks.
The documentary claims access to HRT is a 'postcode lottery' as entire regions of the UK are unable to prescribe the most up-to-date HRT treatments.
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The doc champions the benefits of HRT as a way to combat menopause symptoms and give women their lives back, and pushes to make it more widely available.
Overall, 79% of those surveyed by Channel 4 had never tried HRT, but over 50% of those who'd taken it said it gave them their life back.
The programme found that 79% of women had never tried HRT, but of those who did, more than 50% said "it had completely given them their lives back".
Davina McCall: Sex, Mind and the Menopause is on Channel 4 on Monday 2nd May at 9pm.
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- Davina McCall
- Channel 4
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