Belfast Telegraph

Health: Going through the change...

Getting hot under the collar about the menopause? Ingrid Tarrant and Angela Rippon tell us how they tackled the tears and trauma and share their own secrets on how best to cope

By Gabrielle Fagan

There's one certainty in the life of any woman - she'll succumb to the menopause and while some sail through it, others endure a variety of often embarrassing symptoms.

Hot flushes, sudden tearfulness and exhaustion are difficult enough to cope with in private, but how much tougher are they if you're in public life?

Ingrid Tarrant (52) is accustomed to living life under the sometimes unforgiving glare of the media spotlight.

Her split with husband Chris, following revelations about his infidelity, has regularly made the headlines and she's been outspoken about her heartbreak and anger.

She was completely unprepared for the first sign of the onset of the menopause when it happened during a public appearance.

Ingrid, speaking out to mark World Menopause Day on Tuesday, reveals: " I was a guest at a This Is Your Life programme when everything changed. I suddenly felt very ill, and had to dash home."

It emerged she was suffering from an ovarian cyst which had to be removed and following the operation her periods stopped.

Ingrid smiles ruefully as she says: "Until then, my periods were so regular you could set your watch by them.

"After the operation I had two normal periods, then nothing. It all seemed to happen overnight - terrible hot flushes, feeling so tired I initially suspected I was anaemic, always struggling to get things done. Finally, I knew I was in the menopause."

Ingrid, brought up as a child to dismiss illness by her 'stiff upper lip' Norwegian father, suddenly found herself battling exhaustion but still having to help support a high-profile husband and four children.

She says: "I felt unusually tired, which naturally made me irritable. I've always had bags of energy and am even tempered, so it was out of character which I couldn't understand and really didn't like."

Luckily, Ingrid, who must have been emotionally tested to the limit by the traumatic break up of a 15-year marriage, claims she has never been troubled by one of the commonest menopause symptoms - depression or low moods.

She declares firmly: "I think I must have been born happy. I've never suffered depression and the only times I have felt low are when external factors come into play. I'm very strong and stable emotionally and don't rely on others to make me happy."

Her family is obviously an enormous comfort as she tries to rebuild her life as a single woman.

Says Ingrid: "I have fantastic friends and family, all of whom are positive and full of energy, so I have lots of fun and laughter in my life.

"I'm lucky enough to have brought up four wonderful children so, in that respect, I feel fulfilled as a woman and simply regard the menopause as nothing more than a natural process in the cycle of a woman's life.

"All women go through it and I believe why fight or fear this new and potentially exciting phase?"

The average age at onset of menopause is 51 and generally it will last no more than a couple of years, although some women experience symptoms for as long as five or six years.

Doctors say about 50pc of menopausal women will be sufficiently troubled by symptoms - hot flushes are among the most common - to seek some form of treatment.

Says Ingrid: "Being Norwegian, I have always been keen on natural remedies and alternatives. I am strongly opposed to having HRT because it defies nature and I worry about the long-term health risks."

She preferred to take Isovan, a soya isoflavones natural supplement which regulates oestrogen and may help reduce symptoms such as night sweats and mood swings.

Weight gain, often experienced by women during this time has never troubled Ingrid, who at 5 feet 7 inches, weighs around nine stone.

"My weight and shape are fairly static as I'm so hyperactive I seem to burn off what I eat," she explains. But I've cut down on caffeine and reduced my normally huge intake of chocolate and sugar."

Ingrid recommends Isovan, (below) which costs £14.95 for a month's and is available by calling 0800 389 6663 or log onto

Angela Rippon, another celebrity who's long been in the public eye as a news reader and presenter of shows such as Come Dancing, became aware during her menopause that she might be particularly at risk from one of its symptoms - osteoporosis or bone thinning. The menopause occurs when levels of female hormones oestrogen and progesterone fall. Without those high levels of oestrogen the risk of osteoporosis can increase.

Angela (62) had avoided dairy products, which contain bone-building calcium, for years because she was allergic and had also been underweight in her twenties.

When she consulted her GP at the start of her menopause he told her he feared those two factors might put her at greater than normal risk of osteoporosis.

Weight-bearing exercise can help improve bone density.

Says Angela: "Although I've done yoga and swum a lot for years, I knew I needed more weight-bearing exercise, so I took up tennis."

She also looked after her diet, took a calcium supplement and ate lots of soya foods and included a natural supplement, Novogen Red Clover. To order call 0845 603 1021 or visit

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