Davina McCall on impact of menopause doc: ‘People burst into tears to me in the street’

Whether you’ve watched her fangirling outside of the Big Brother house, or fighting back tears as she delivers heartbreaking news on ITV’s Long Lost Family, there’s no denying that a huge part of Davina McCall’s appeal is her relatability.

So when the 54-year-old presenter started experiencing early signs of the menopause when she was just 44, it was no surprise she did what she always does – and tackled it head on with a refreshing honesty.

After opening up about her own tough experience on social media, Davina went on to front her first documentary Sex, Myths and the Menopause, which aired on Channel 4 last year.

The mum-of-three spoke candidly about her journey, which began in 2012 when she spotted early signs such as hot flushes and insomnia.

“One night I was suddenly unable to sleep,” Davina explained. “The day after, I felt like I had aged 10 years overnight.”

But Davina knew she wasn’t alone and used her time in front of the camera to find out more, meeting with other women, as well as experts, to bust open the many taboos surrounding the menopause – from sex to hormone treatment such as HRT.

The response to the documentary was overwhelming, as Davina encouraged others going through this to shout about their experience.

And that’s exactly what she’s continuing to do, as she’s now back fronting a follow-up programme – this time called Sex, Mind and the Menopause.

“I really wasn’t prepared for the impact it would make. Men, women and children are crying out for guidance on how to cope with this stage in our lives,” Davina reveals.

“I couldn’t go anywhere in the months that followed, and still often today, without someone hugging me, bursting into tears as they tell me their story, or telling me how it had started previously forbidden conversations with family or colleagues.

“It was unbelievably unexpected, humbling and moving hearing women and men’s stories, and it opened my eyes to how much more information we needed to get out there.

“The first documentary answered so many questions but also left us with so many more. So we are back to answer some of those.”

The second instalment will see Davina delving deeper into the subject matter close to her own heart, and exploring how the menopause can affect the mind as well as the body.

Meanwhile, she’ll investigate the astounding results of a Channel 4 survey which reveals that many women face losing their jobs when they begin to show symptoms of the menopause, including memory loss and brain fog.

It’s shocking statistics such as these that have driven Davina to return, as she urges our healthcare system to “rethink” how they treat women experiencing the menopause.

“Women in their mid-forties onwards were often just expected to fade away quietly. This is an extremely outdated perception. I would say now that we’re reaching our prime at this point,” Davina continues.

“Many of us, just as we find our stride, are struck down with a hormone deficiency that can lead some women to suicide. And yet, in the vast majority of cases, these women could be very simply and cheaply treated by the NHS. We need to ask ourselves, why is this not happening in every GP surgery?”

But Davina, mum to Holly, Tilly and Chester, hopes she is leading the way for change – not only for her but for
the many others who have felt alone while facing the huge upheaval in their own lives.

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“I’m sure, as with our last documentary, there will be many women going to their GP and helping to educate them about the menopause, as it’s still a tiny part of a doctor’s learning in medical school, which isn’t their fault but is totally ridiculous.”

Davina concludes, “I hope that our viewers will feel empowered and more confident and will have enough knowledge to go and talk to their GP about what they need.”

For all the latest news and updates on Davina McCall, sign up to our daily OK! Newsletter. Sex, Mind and the Menopause airs on Monday 2 May at 9pm on Channel 4.

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