Davina McCall has compared the symptoms of menopause to those she experienced when she was addicted to drugs.
The former Big Brother presenter has spoken openly about her previous drug use, including a dependency on heroin when she was in her 20s.
The 53-year-old said she suffered night sweats during the perimenopause that reminded her of trying to recover from addiction.
The TV star has made a film, Davina McCall: Sex, Myths And The Menopause, with Channel 4 addressing the lack of information around the issue.
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“I had a tough experience when I got to perimenopause at 44 and I really didn’t know who to talk to or where to go,” she explained.
Davina added that the “really horrible thing for me about getting night sweats was I’m a recovering addict and it really took me back to being sick and trying to recover from addiction.
“And I was waking up with just a pool of water here. And it wasn’t all the time, it was maybe two or three times a month… I wasn’t sleeping and when you don’t sleep for night upon night upon night… I’d be waking up two or three times a night, mainly to wee. I don’t know what was going on with my bladder.
“And I just then started the fog. And I just thought I was going mad. I either thought I was possibly getting dementia, some kind of early onset dementia. The menopause did not even cross my mind because I was young, 44, and I just thought that’s too young.”
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Davina said she “battled on” for about a year as she developed symptoms including fatigue, memory fog and anxiety.
She added: “My period started getting very, very long, very light but very long. I thought there’s something going on. I think I might be…
“I didn’t even know perimenopause was a thing. I thought I might be menopausal. I didn’t understand that menopause was when you haven’t had a period for a year.”
Eventually her symptoms began to affect her presenting work, leaving her struggling to read her lines.
“Then it ended up when I couldn’t read the autocue,” she said.
“It started affecting my vision because of lack of sleep, I couldn’t see, I couldn’t read.
“And a producer who’s now quite high up at ITV in fact, she came up to me and she said, ‘Are you OK?’. Because I was normally so on it.
“And I just couldn’t get on it anymore. I just thought, ‘Oh God, I am in a fog’.”
The TV series will see Davina meet scientists and women who have gone through the menopause, as well as discussing her own experience.
Davina McCall: Sex, Myths And The Menopause airs on Channel 4 on Wednesday May 12.
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