When it comes to confessions, Andrea McLean is not one to leave out any detail.
Her book Confessions of a Menopausal Woman became a bestseller and, while she has adjusted to life post-hysterectomy and post-menopause, the mum of two – to son Finlay, 18, and daughter Amy, 13 – has now spoken about the ‘excruciating pain’ she feels during sex with husband Nick Feeney as a result of the changes.
Andrea McLean hysterectomy
Three years ago Andrea, 50, made
the life-changing decision to have
‘I was in constant pain and couldn’t carry on any longer. I was sitting in a corner constantly holding my stomach before going on air,’ she said. ‘It was a huge decision and although it was the best thing to do, I was scared about it.’
The Loose Women host has suffered with endometriosis since her 20s – a condition where small pieces of the womb lining grow in other places, such as the ovaries or fallopian tubes. But it was a scan during her five-year battle with perimenopause that prompted surgery.
‘I had cysts on my ovaries so it all needed to come out, and I wrongly thought because I was on HRT [hormone replacement therapy], I’d be fine. I wasn’t prepared for the many huge changes.’ And while she made a full recovery, Andrea is now dealing with continuous changes to her lifestyle.
She explained, ‘Post-menopausal sex is as good as it can be. When you go through the menopause, the vaginal wall becomes brittle and thin, which is excruciatingly painful during sex. Trust me, you can’t close your eyes, think of England and get through it! There is no getting through it.’
Andrea McLean on post-menopausal sex
Having an understanding husband like Nick, 47, who Andrea has been married to for three years, is what’s helped the star cope with what life has thrown at her. She revealed in 2019 that they were having counselling in a bid ‘to better learn how to communicate as man and wife’.
And it sounds like it’s helped them to be honest in the bedroom, with Andrea revealing, ‘Me and Nick speak very openly, so I feel comfortable to say if sex “doesn’t feel right.”’
Despite having Nick’s support, Andrea is still trying to come to terms with sex being different these days. She added, ‘The most difficult thing was thinking sex has never been the same – and there’s a sadness [to that]. There’s always been some kind of pain since.’
One of the ways Andrea is learning to cope with the changes to her body is by using a hormone therapy called Vagifem – pessaries that contain oestrogen – twice a week, to help with the elasticity of the vagina, leading to better sex.
Andrea explained, ‘There’s so much help that you can get now. You can speak to your GP to make sure everything [that involves oestrogen] is in working order, or there are natural remedies you can use in terms of moisturisers and lubricants.’
To help boost her sex drive, Andrea admitted she also takes two pumps a month of testosterone gel to increase energy levels and lean muscle mass development, and takes a progesterone tablet every night. Andrea added, ‘There’s no embarrassment to it, and why would you want to stop something that is part of a loving relationship purely because you’re embarrassed?’
Andrea McLean on feeling sexy in her 50s
Staying sexy through the menopause, despite all these changes, is something Andrea is a firm believer of.
‘You get hot in all the wrong ways! But you can look and feel sexy during the menopause,’ she said. And while she urges other women to stop pretending everything is OK when it’s not, saying that talking will help take away half of the anxiety, she stressed, ‘You can feel great, you can feel normal, you can feel like a little minx like you did in your 20s, but you just do everything differently.’