Michelle Heaton has talked openly about going through the menopause at 35 after having a hysterectomy and a double mastectomy
Former Liberty X singer Michelle Heaton has spoken out about going through the early menopause at the age of 35.
After discovering that she was a carrier of the BRCA2 gene, which means that she had an 85% risk of developing breast cancer, and a 30% chance of developing ovarian cancer, Michelle went through potentially life-saving surgery - bringing on early menopause.
Michelle is promoting a new trial for breast cancer (Credit: Peppermint Soda PR)
Undergoing a hysterectomy and a double mastectomy meant that Michelle began to experience symptoms of the menopause, turning to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to slow down the symptoms.
Michelle, who recently appeared on Loose Women to bravely show her surgery scars, told the Daily Mail: "Early menopause at 35 has hardly been fun. I have my down days where I feel really low. I feel so tired and lethargic and I can't seem to snap myself out of it
"You don't fully realise how depressed you are at the time until you've been able to pick yourself up eventually and you look back at it.
"I'm lucky that I haven't suffered the physical symptoms - for me it's had a big emotional impact."
WATCH: Michelle Heaton Bravely Shows off Her Life-Saving Surgery Scars on Loose Women
The mum-of-two said: "Discovering I was a carrier of the faulty gene was devastating and turned my world upside down.
"I did a lot of research into my options but there was never any doubt in my mind that I would have surgery – it was a no-brainer for me because I had such a high risk of developing breast cancer."
She added that she's happy to have had the surgery and has no regrets, telling the Daily Mail: "It was all worth it to beat cancer."
But Michelle, who was the fourth female in her family to carry the gene, says that whilst she has absolutely "no regrets" about her surgery, she does fear for her five-year-old daughter, Faith.
Michelle loves messing about with her kids (Credit: Instagram/ Michelle Heaton) She attributes her new role in promoting a new NHS trial to create a more personalised breast cancer screening to her concern for her daughter's future.
Michelle said: "As a mum, I'm extremely passionate about protecting the next generations and giving women the opportunity to know what their risk is and how they can reduce it.
"No mother – or father – should have to have the heart-breaking conversation with their children that they may not be around to see them walk down the aisle or go on to have kids of their own."
The new clinical trials, called Predicting Risk Of Cancer At Screening 2 (PROCAS-2) by Prevent Breast Cancer, are going into a more personalised test for women who are at risk of developing breast cancer.
Instead of undergoing the screening and that be it, women participating in the trials are now being asked to complete a questionnaire, answering questions about their lifestyle and family history.
This information goes hand-in-hand with a scientific "risk score" based on breast density and lifestyle, meaning that women will be offered personalised risk-reducing measures - such as more frequent mammograms, and, if necessary, preventative drugs or surgery.
Michelle here with her personal trainer husband Hugh Hanley (Credit: Instagram/ Michelle Heaton)
The trial began in Greater Manchester, East Cheshire and East Lancashire in MArch and will run for three years.
Michelle added: "I was lucky to know my risk and could therefore take the necessary steps to protect myself. However, there are so many contributing factors to developing breast cancer and, unfortunately, not everyone with an above average risk is aware.
"Personalising the breast screening programme and telling women their chances of developing the disease means they will have that power of knowledge and will be able to make a decision based on what's right for them and their family.
"These clinical trials are a step in the right direction and will hopefully mean we’re closer to creating a breast cancer-free future."
Michelle with her family (Credit: Getty Images)
We spoke to Aly Dilks, a sexual health expert with a masters degree in the menopause. She said: "Menopausal symptoms are happening earlier and earlier, whether it's the peri-menopause or the full blown early menopause, we are treating women from their mid-30s upwards.
"Mostly, it is due to medical factors as well as environmental and lifestyle, but women with a history of cancer in their families face additional problems. They may not be able to take HRT and conventional menopause medication which leads them susceptible to terrible mood swings, emotional trauma and extreme symptoms such as vaginal atrophy (suffered by 1 in 5 menopausal women who don’t take HRT).
"The medical profession are constantly educating themselves against these life altering symptoms. When our hormones are thrown off balance due to the menopause, it's not surprising that we get down or depressed, especially with the thoughts that our child-bearing years are over and our bodies are changing.
"Sometimes we need that additional help to keep us calm and focussed, whether that's HRT, BHRT or anti-depressants. Women have a lot to go through in their lives, and no-one should be judged as to how they handle it. That's the idea behind The Women's Health Clinic, there are no sales people - simply nurses who have seen it all!"