Wellness Warrior and Menopause Coach Catherine O’ Keeffe went through perimenopause at 44, here she shares her advice for other women and the importance of having “a personal tool kit” of self-care strategies …
Every woman is familiar with the signs of menopause – hot flushes, sleep disturbance, thickening waists, fatigue, moods that fluctuate wildly… but what about all those other signs of “ageing,” like low mood, poor memory, thinning hair, brittle nails, and anxiety? We’ve learned it’s likely perimenopause, a drawn-out period of time when your body’s reproductive system slows down until you hit menopause, which is actually the technical term for the full year anniversary of not having a period. Wellness Warrior and Menopause Coach Catherine O’ Keeffe went through it at 44 …
When Catherine O’Keeffe started what she terms her “menopause journey”, she was 44 and working in investment banking.
“For me, perimenopause manifested as a loss of confidence and increased anxiety. I was definitely more nervous in meetings, and felt as if I wasn’t firing on all cylinders.”
If these were the psychological symptoms the physical ones were equally troublesome. She experienced heavier periods, or “flooding”, which started at inopportune moments. For some women joining the dots about symptoms of perimenopause just doesn’t happen but O’Keeffe was well aware. “Fortunately I understood what I was going through was a hormonal transition – perimenopause.”
O’Keeffe firmly believes “this hormonal transition can be a time of empowering transformation, once you have a handle on the symptoms.”
O’Keeffe is well qualified in this regard. Having decided to leave the corporate world to pursue her interest in helping other women, she studied complementary medicine and works now on many aspects of Women’s Health. As Ireland’s first menopause coach and a leading corporate speaker on Menopause in the Workplace, she offers one-to-one private consultations, gives educational talks and works regularly with companies (such as Irish Life Health, Met Eireann, Sainsbury’s and many more) on how to support colleagues and employees in the workplace. Founder of the Menopause Success Summit, coming in September 2021, the Irish representative of the Daisy Network, a support network for younger women diagnosed with early menopause, and a member of the British Menopause Society, O’Keeffe has had the opportunity to work and connect with thousands of women.
Throughout her own perimenopause, O’Keeffe maintained a healthy diet and monitored and managed her stress levels by taking regular exercise, and she took supplements. “Vitamins D, B6 and B12 and Omega 3 are all very important and are the main components of Cleanmarine MenoMin.” Six years after her first symptoms, now 50, she continues to follow her healthy diet and exercise regime, and continues with MenoMin.
O’Keeffe advocates talking about the menopause and its symptoms with family and friends. “Discussing your menopause journey is so important as otherwise it is very difficult for family to understand what is going on for you.” She says her three sons know so much about the menopause, they can have a laugh about it as a family. She observed a lack of awareness amongst her friends and clients. “I saw the huge gap of knowledge with friends and clients who blamed stress rather than hormones for their low mood and feelings of burnout,” explains O’Keeffe. “Some of my friends in their early 40s believed they were too young to discuss the menopause when in fact this is the perfect time – when you can prepare and empower yourself. Menopause is not just about hot flushes and night sweats. Every woman will have a different experience, and experience different symptoms, which reinforces this need to talk openly and honestly about how you feel.”
“There are over 350,000 working women in Ireland right now with menopause. While one in four may suffer no symptoms at all, we know three out of four will. Understanding how symptoms can impact on work and in the workplace is the starting point for all employers,” says O’Keeffe. Compassion and empathy are also needed. O’Keeffe gives an example: “When a work colleague is a few minutes late for a Zoom meeting and leaves her camera off, there may well be a reason for this. Imagine a night of little sleep due to hot flushes, topped in the morning by an enhanced feeling of anxiety and exhaustion. Then you pop into a Zoom and a hot flush strikes. How can you face putting on the camera? And this is just hot flushes, what about the other 40+ symptoms of the menopause?”
Top tip: Take a natural supplement such as Cleanmarine MenoMin – an all-in-one Omega 3, phytonutrient and vitamin blend specifically formulated to give nutritional support to perimenopausal and menopausal women.
One symptom, which O’Keeffe noticed personally, is the impact on motor skills. “It’s very common that a loss of oestrogen can impact our motor skills. I bump into doors or drop things more frequently.”
Regardless of whom she advises, O’Keeffe believes in the importance of having “a personal tool kit” of self-care strategies. She endorses a “blended approach” – a mix of therapies whether medical or complementary, supplements and lifestyle changes, whichever works best. “It’s your menopause no one else’s so trust your own decisions, trust your gut instinct and stay grounded in your choices.”
“Menopause is an invitation to edit your life – committing to self-care, setting boundaries and investing your time in joyful pursuits is the fruit of the transformation.”
Most of all O’Keeffe says, “Be gentle and kind to yourself: understand menopause is like a rocket ride going through unchartered territory. You and your body need to be quite resilient because you will fly through some crazy stuff! The crazy stuff is the symptoms trying to knock you off course. Always remember you have the tools to navigate this. Starting to educate yourself is the first step towards empowerment and being ready for the rocket ride. My aim is that the menopause is an exhilarating ride not a scary one – the key is getting a handle on those symptoms.”
Catherine’s Daily Do’s:
-Stay hydrated and drink lots of water.
-Eat the rainbow of seasonal fruit and vegetables.
-Physical, mindful, intentional movement every day is a priority.
-Nourish your passions and your relationships.
-Put great value on the power of sleep.
-Watch your alcohol intake, monitor your caffeine, avoid smoking.
-Remember you are not alone – 25 million women experience menopause globally each year.
-Take Cleanmarine MenoMin – a unique all-in-one Omega 3, Phytonutrient and vitamin blend which has been specifically formulated to give extra nutritional support for perimenopausal and menopausal women aged 40+
Need to Know: Each capsule of Cleanmarine MenoMin contains Omega-3, Biotin, Rosemary Extract, Soy Isoflavones with B Vitamins and Vitamin D3 to provide nutritional support aged 40+. Vitamin B6 helps regulate hormonal activity and along with Vitamins B1 and B12 it contributes to normal psychological function. Vitamin D helps maintain healthy normal bones and supports the normal function of the immune system. Cleanmarine MenoMin’s synergistic formulation is ideal for women in perimenopause and menopause who want to feel good every day. Cleanmarine MenoMin is available at pharmacies and health stores nationwide, learn more at www.cleanmarine.ie.
Tickets are now available for the Menopause Success Summit, an online event on the 25th September 2021.