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Dec. 8, 2022

Kath Berry: A surprising discovery led to educating practitioners on managing menopause

Want to hear the unusual way that Kath Berry became interested in understanding menopause better while treating her female clients in Ibiza? Then you'll love this episode!

Kath Berry is an Aussie, living in Ibiza. She's also a world-class Acupuncturist, Author and Educator with over 25 years of clinical experience.

Having gained her bachelor's degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine in 2000, Kath spent time working in several hospitals in China. She then returned to Australia and completed her Masters of Research Science in Addiction Medicine, in 2006.

Leaving Australia on a year-long surfing safari, Kath is yet to return home. She settled in London in 2009, moving to Ibiza in 2015 where she continues to live today.  Kath went on to found a women's health practice in Ibiza and the Treating Women Academy, where she educates fellow health professionals through online courses.

In 2018, after identifying a gap in education Kath ran a Menopause Masterclass alongside ten international Traditional Chinese and East Asian Medicine experts. Kath has since distilled the information delivered in this masterclass into a new medical textbook "Menopause: A Comprehensive Guide for Practitioners".

Kath was an absolute joy to chat with. Her positivity and outlook on life are infectious, and her thirst for learning and educating is inspiring.

I will add a "Not Safe For Children or Work" warning to this episode! Definitely, an episode to listen to with headphones or somewhere anyone listening can't be offended.

We talk about sex, drugs, masturbation and desire. And laugh. A lot.

Treating Women Academy
Kath on Instagram
Kath on Facebook
Kath on LinkedIn
Menopause: A Comprehensive Guide for Practitioners - book
How To Own The Room: Women And The Art of Brilliant Speaking

Maryon Stewart: Managing Menopause Naturally
Dr Kelly Casperson: Sex, Desire and Body Image

Where to find Sonya:
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Stellar Women Website

You're invited to join the We Are Stellar Women community on Facebook, a free supportive space for all women navigating the menopausal transition. Click here to join.


Kath, thank you so much for joining us today.

[01:33] Kath: Thank you for having me.

[01:35] Sonya: Oh, my pleasure. Kath, let's start the ball rolling. Why don't you introduce yourself, who you are and a little bit about what you do so that my audience understands why you're here today.

[01:46] Kath: Thank you. So you can probably hear I'm an Australian, but I've been living abroad long enough, 15 years now, out of the country, that I've got one of those blended accents. So I left Australia in 2007 for a one year round the world surfing holiday and never quite made it home. But my background in training is in acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine. So I started Chinese medicine from high school. Four year Chinese medicine degree at University of Technology. So I sort of consider myself one of the early generations or an early adopter of what I would consider almost scientific acupuncture. Because in the world of traditional and complementary medicine, there's a whole bunch of people that have come to the area as a second career, whereas for me, it was coming in the first instance and the acupuncture was just being offered as a university degree, so it was being offered as a health sciences. So we did a lot of looking at the Western medical diagnosis and how that fit. So what was wonderful was this was in the mid 1990s and it was before the Internet, so there's this wonderful sort of heading off to the library and pulling out these big, dusty old classics of Chinese medicine. And it's very kind of romantic to be studying the history and philosophy of this traditional and ancient art of medicine. But during the course of my professional career, that the whole body of knowledge has changed, that we are much more evidence based, how we understand human physiology has changed. So I've loved that as I have grown through the medicine, that the science of the medicine is changing as well. And I'm more excited about the science of acupuncture and Chinese medicine now than I am of the more perhaps esoteric concepts. The principles come in. From London, I've moved to Ibiza. So I'm now living on a little island off the coast of Spain.

[03:35] Sonya: Everything about your life is just romantic.

[03:39] Kath: It's a bit of a weird cultural mix of Australian, you know, coming from the UK, living in a Spanish island, but practicing a Chinese medicine.

[03:49] Sonya: That is multiculturalism.

[03:52] Kath: That's right. And funnily enough, when I first arrived to the island, I was really interested. I was working with a colleague, we were working on a cookbook, Mediterranean Diet for menopause. And I was trying to sort of superimpose Chinese medicine principles. And we sat there one day and went, this is too much. We're talking about Chinese medicine and olive oil.

[04:12] Sonya: Yes. The Mediterranean Diet.

[04:14] Kath: The Mediterranean Diet. Menopause. This is just it was just too confusing. It was just sort of too many different elemental fusions all in one. So it was just been fun to try and work.

[04:26] Sonya: So what became the cookbook? I'm intrigued.

[04:28] Kath: Look, it's still sitting as an idea. I work with a wonderful chef here on the island and one of the things that the diet and nutrition, as you would know, working in the menopause sector, that food is such an instrumental part of medicine. And the Mediterranean Diet research evidence base has come out on top as being a great way of some constitutional types, but certainly good clean living. Good clean eating.

[04:55] Sonya: Yeah. And the research that I've done as well, the Mediterranean Diet always comes out on top for such a broad range of health conditions and healthy living in general. So fascinated to hear how you found yourself shifting into the menopause space.

[05:12] Kath: So my original did a bachelor's degree in traditional Chinese medicine. Shortly afterwards, I went on and did a master's degree looking at acupuncture for drug and alcohol addiction. So I got really interested in analytical and scientific way of researching how acupuncture works as a form of treatment. And what was fascinating when I first moved to Obesa back in 2015, so I had this wonderful opportunity of setting up a little boutique practice and I started seeing patients, and they would come in a piece of being this party capital of Europe. My parentopausal patients would come in and say things like, oh, I'm going to coke bender last night and I can't cope. So what I was seeing was cocaine and alcohol seemed to be having this unbelievably adverse effect. And we're talking about a group of people that were fairly well practiced in their recreational drug use. And I'd done my addiction degree in Chinese medicine and addictions, and here I was looking at sort of the inroad into. I'm just trying to understand why cocaine is having such a terribly detrimental effect on these women. And so through that sort of started getting really interested in looking at menopause, what's something biochemically for women during this stage. And the other quite shocking thing at that time was realizing how little information there was around. This is, again back in 2015. It's a fairly niche area to be looking at recreational drug use for middle aged women.

[06:50] Sonya: Very niche, I would imagine.

[06:52] Kath: And it's sort of not considered it wasn't considered a high risk population, therefore, it wasn't an area that a lot of people were conducting research on. But that sort of led into me doing a bit of a deep dive into trying to find some information around what the classics of Chinese medicine said around menopause. And what was interesting for me at the time is that there isn't really anything in the classics, partly because the Huang, the pivotal tombs of knowledge, it's called the Huang de Nijing Su Yen. It's the Yellow Emperor's. Inner classics. And that particular piece of information, that particular body of Chinese medicine classics, has women evolving. It sort of sees everything on a sevenyear cycle. So from birth to seven years old, seven to 14, the age of MENA or puberty, and then when the menstrual flow starts and then 14 to 21 would have been a very fertile period of women having conceiving 21 to 28. That's towards the end of the fertile years. But what's fascinating in this particular doc, in this particular sort of body of knowledge, is that it ends at 49. So the Su I, when it talks about women's health, goes up to 49 years old.

[08:07] Sonya: Wow.

[08:07] Kath: And that's it. And what we don't know is that because there was a high mortality rate, so women didn't live much longer than their reproductive years, or whether there was a view that beyond that, there was a general sense of, as a woman, you're defined by your reproductive capacity. And here once that's achieved, and it sort of has these sort of general frame of like, well, you're just written off.

[08:30] Sonya: Sorry, you're done.

[08:35] Kath: Or the paradox could be. And that's in a lot of East Asian cultures, where women are actually elevated to a more superior role, that might.

[08:44] Sonya: Have been really fascinated about, yeah, I've done a little bit of my own research into how different cultures do manage menopause and how women are treated within the society. And I love reading about the cultures, and there's quite a few that don't have a patriarchal system that we have, where they are elevated, and they take on these positions of leadership and wisdom within their communities, and they're revered for that. And I just think that's so wonderful, isn't it?

[09:14] Kath: What's lovely is our Western scientists are actually exploring that as an evolutionary concept. So I don't know if you've come across it, but there's a theory called the Grandmother Hypothesis, and what this is, is that the only mammals that go through menopause are human beings, and whales that's right. And so within the whale population, you come across this with the whale population. They're sort of exploring the fact that whales go through Mcmenopause so that the grandmother whales can pass on the fishing information, the survival information to the pod, and so that the grandmothers aren't producing offspring that are going to compete with their existing offspring or great grand offspring. I love that concept of menopause being this collection of information that gets passed down through the generations. But, yeah, certainly in the classics of Chinese medicine. Here I am, an obese five years ago, thinking I need to find out more about what Chinese medicine has to say for menopause, and realizing there just wasn't any information.

[10:19] Sonya: Given that, where did you go to find your information?

[10:22] Kath: Well, the first thing I did was contact practitioners that I knew that were highly experienced. And so what I did at the time was I put together what I call the Menopause Masterclass. I got ten experts and I said, Please, can you do this in different modules on different aspects of the menopause? And so through that online training, I was able to sit we've got these 24 hours of content off these really wonderful educators. And then off the back of that, a colleague and I sat down and said, why don't we turn this into a book? Why don't we make a textbook of Chinese medicine for menopause? Yeah, it's wonderful. We just published it last week. Congratulations. We released it as per our target on World Menopause Day, the 18 October. We were really thrilled. So it's really nice. Again, it's a compilation. It's a compilation of other people's work and trying to and it's very much a hybrid because I mentioned, coming from more of a scientific background, is warning. And, you know, in the year 2022, we've got things like HRT or menopause hormone therapy. One of the things that I'm really fascinated by is where does the oral contraceptive pill and IVF fit with our menopause and women of today? So all of a sudden we can't start looking back thousands of years ago when we have all these other influences we just really don't know. And back to my original question, it's like, how did cocaine affect perimenopause? I was like, we don't really know. So it's just this lovely beginning to understand female endocrinology and the interactions with all these other things like food and diet, like exercise, and then like, other lifestyle choices like alcohol or other drugs.

[12:07] Sonya: Yeah, exactly. Amazing. And it's fascinating to hear from you're, the first person that I've sat down and had a conversation around from a Chinese medicine perspective. And yeah, it's really fascinating. I'm really enjoying it. And I love that you've created this textbook, too. So not only are you driven to obviously support and help the women that you see in your clinic, but you've also gone on to help practitioners within your within your space as well, which is just incredible. Well done.

[12:40] Kath: Thank you. Well, you know, it's really funny. I've designed this book exactly how I like a textbook in my clinical practice. And so there's lots of you know, within the first couple of pages, there's a big picture of a ******** at this whole brilliant. I was like, hey, how can we be talking about female sexuality or female gynecology or female reproduction? And not so that there's a sort of a double page spread of a big external genitalia and then this is what a ******** looks like. Because that for me, was really important, of just having lots of I've got young kids in the spot of being like, I just want text. I want to pitch a book. I want to be able to visually see it. And the other thing which I do in my practice is often women often come in and they have all this mix of symptoms, and I'm like, I don't know what's wrong with me. All these things are going wrong. And often doctors have a bit of a policy of don't come with a shopping list. You're only allowed to present with one problem or one problem at a time. And whereas a Chinese medicine practitioner is the opposite. Could you just tell us everything?

[13:40] Sonya: Everything.

[13:40] Kath: And a little bit like this idea I see, like, little tiles in the mosaic is with one tile, you don't get a very big picture, but the more tiles you have in a mosaic, the more three dimensional the picture becomes. And as a result, there's a Chinese medicine practitioner wants those details. And what I love is when I have a patient come in who feels like things are really out of control and none of it makes sense, and I sort of turn to page 300, and I was like, oh, this is your pattern. This is what's called a pattern of disarmini. And all of these things are like hot sweats and vaginal, dryness and insomnia. This all fits with this particular pattern or syndrome. And so there's a thing called the therapeutic framework. And so for some people, having a therapeutic framework, being told, I know exactly what you have, and I know how to fix it, that is medicinal. That part of and particularly for things like menopause, when women present to doctors and they say things like, well, we don't know what's going on, that's a sort of a surefire way of making someone feel less well, less likely to get better. I think we saw that a little bit with COVID to be honest. I think part of the reason why it was so scary for a lot of people was not knowing, we don't know about this thing. We don't know what to do with it. And that for a lot of people.

[15:01] Sonya: As we were learning sorry, not so much as we I suppose it was as we as a society, but also as our scientists and our medical practitioners were learning the information was changing. And I really felt that we saw a lot of the population, a lot of society that were unable to cope with those quick changes in information and that became a problem within itself.

[15:26] Kath: And also that breaking of an idea like, what do you mean you don't know? You're the doctor, you're supposed to know. And I really sort of felt that there was this element of like you do realize that medicine is just a whole bunch of people coming up with observing patterns and clustering them together and trying to sort of see threads and themes.

[15:48] Sonya: Yeah, exactly.

[15:50] Kath: It was really watching, as you say, that, you know, the general population catch up with what scientific processes and realizing it's not the only idea, that ultimate truth. It really is just for the most part, there's a bunch of people really interested in the topic, trying to make sense of that topic, but sometimes it takes a while, but the answers are shifting, change, more information coming in very experimental, which is of course what we did see with COVID But back to the idea of being able to reflect to somebody, this is what's going on for you, this is your pattern of disharmony. It fits within a diagnosis. Once you've got the diagnosis, then you've got the treatment plan. How are you going to attack? There's a wonderful expression my colleagues and I use called you got to name it to tame it. That really means the naming of it, the identifying, the diagnosis is the treatment. It's the hard part is working out what's going on.

[16:44] Sonya: Yeah. And that really rings true. I feel the women that I speak to on a very regular basis, the confusion and the frustration, because they don't experience what they're going through, being named necessarily by their first primary care or their first port of call, and then they're left to do this journey of self exploration themselves. They kind of have to become their own Sherlock Holmes, which is hard for a lot of not everybody is gifted with the ability to do that. And you're right. I think as soon as somebody does say to you, this is what's going on, this is what you're experiencing, this is why, and then, as you say, you contain it and this is how we're going to be able to support you.

[17:26] Kath: Exactly. One of the things I think we are seeing a bit of shift in that and seeing it is everything falling under the umbrella of menopause. So I feel like and now it's about breaking that down into the little groups. And what's wonderful about the framework of traditional Chinese and East Asian medicine is it really is about the individual. So rather than saying, here's menopause, and everybody's going to go through this journey in the same way, it's very much about saying what's going on for you as an individual within your home life. Professional life constitution, all these other factors that are involved and this is where it deviates a little bit from the Western model. So for example, in Western medicine we often look at diet is a good example. If we look at we look at a food substance so we look at something like soya products and we say is soy products good for menopause? And then we sort of start exploring from that. Whereas in Chinese medicine it's very much about looking at somebody's constitution. So it's looking at the person rather than the product. And we'll say things to my patients like say for example a banana and high in potassium and they have this rich source of fructose and all these wonderful benefits. But a banana for somebody with a **** constitution is like kryptonite. So therefore it's not the banana that we should be looking at, it's the person eating the banana and that flipping it around rather than looking at the actual. And that's why I love having this idea of that people don't all fit into one pattern is very much around having all the different sort of types of constitutions and then what type of food might be a good match for that constitution. Another good example is enduring menopause. It's a very hot type of time of a woman's life. So again, for some people that they might be experiencing really hot symptoms and therefore eating cooling foods like cucumbers and salads are really good versus for somebody else constitutionally that might not agree with them. So it's trying to match this rather than this food or this way of eating is the way to go. Let's have a look at the person first and then determine what's a really good match for that constitutional type.

[19:40] Sonya: I love that as a starting point. Now let's talk about the, you know, what you have learned, obviously with all of your research, working with your colleagues, pulling all of these masterclasses in your textbook together. I believe you've kind of refined it down to nine simple steps for a healthy transition through menopause. Let's move into talking about what those nine simple steps are.

[20:05] Kath: Terrific. I did mention this wonderful classic, this body of knowledge that's the Huangdi Nijing Suwan the Yellows Emperors in a classics. And so this is called the Young Shing principles. And so the translation of the character Yang translates to either support or to cultivate or to nourish and Sheng sh E-N-G translates to life or living. So it's indirect translation. It's the nourishment of life tradition. And so these are the eight principles. Would you like me to read them out? It's sort of like the nine principles mistake. So it's sort of the nine commandments of a good, good life and living. Let's go from the classic. The first is cultivating the mind and managing the emotions. The second is regulating the diet, including how, when and what we consume. I'm going to spiral back to that because the how and when is so important. Third is cultivating the body by balancing appropriate rest activity and exercise, including deep breathing. The fourth is getting enough good quality sleep. The fifth is having a healthy and fulfilling sex life. The 6th is making time for leisure activities such as spending time in nature or enjoying music, dance and art. The 7th is making appropriate lifestyle adaptations during pregnancy and following childbirth. The 8th is caring for children wisely. And the 9th is accepting the aging process and managing it as well as possible. So this is, again, the nine classic Yang Xiang nourishment of life principles.

[21:45] Sonya: I love those.

[21:48] Kath: It seems really simple, but I do that's what's wonderful about Chinese and traditional East Asian medicine is its simplicity. This is sort of the playbook for a good life and a good society.

[22:02] Sonya: Yeah.

[22:02] Kath: Very much breed into that caring for children wisely. That's actually sort of caring for young people, caring for our society, into that perhaps that grandmother role. But what's lovely within this framework, the first four are considered the four legs of a chair. And the theory being that a chair and knee functions if all four legs are solid. And so that first being that cultivating the mind and emotions regulating diet. Cultivating the body with exercise and rest as well as breathing and then sleep. So that's, again, to what we sort of know in very established terms, eat well, sleep well, exercise enough, but not too much, and get a good night's sleep. So I mentioned coming back to the diet, this how and when we eat here. I'll read that one again because it's sort of interesting to see how it's interpreted in the west. So this is regulating the diet, including how, when and what we consume. A lot of what I think we focus or over focus on is, as I mentioned earlier, the what we consume. But in this particular framework, it's around how and when so and particularly the how is around making sure that the meal should be consumed sitting down, restfully, not eating on the run, not eating a big meal late at night. So there's a lot of emphasis not on it doesn't really the emphasis is less on what's on the plate and more on how a person is feeling when they're consuming food and what's going on for them. And I think that's often overlooked if they're very busy people eating at their desk at work or snacking in the car and pick up the kids from school, or how we relate to our food. And while I was doing the research, I sort of came across it in the Western medicine. It's a Western society. We measure food in kilojoules in indirect terms. That means how much energy does this particular food have in terms of energetic substance? Now, how much fuel is this piece of material substance going to give the body? And so, by measuring food and energy. In Kilojoules, we end up creating this idea that food is fuel rather than sort of thinking about what is food in terms of its energetic properties? Is it bringing heat into the system? Is it causing dryness or damp, or is it hydrating? What sort of influence is it going to have on the body as a system? And I think that's where the Eastern cultures have a tendency of looking at the nature or the energetic properties of food. Again, sort of thinking more around eating food in a relaxed and healthy way, having a healthy relationship to food.

[24:51] Sonya: Yes. It reminds me of what we talk about when we talk about mindful eating, taking the time to prepare your food in an environment and be grateful for the food that you have to prepare and really taking your time. As you say, to set the table, sit at the table, you know, take your time to eat and be really conscious and present whilst you're eating. And you're right. It is so overlooked as being a vital part of our nutrition that's right.

[25:27] Kath: And digestion, you know, the idea that if we're eating on the go, you're not allowing this simple terms, a downward movement of the food, that everything sort of gets stuck and up. And it's a really fascinating way to look at how we, again, people will be eating the most homegrown, organic, well produced food. But if you're eating it badly, it becomes bad food. You may as well eat junk food well and sit down, rather than good food badly. And from a nutritional point of view, I guess it's more from an energetic, constitutional point of view.

[26:04] Sonya: Yes.

[26:06] Kath: The Nine Yang Chiang principles just sort of really wonderful to come back to and to really sort of focus on the whole compass. That the balance. I'm not sure whether it was how it fits with people's lives, but this idea of making time for leisure activities such as such as spending time in nature, enjoying music, dance and art. And what I love is, I think for some people, the menopause could be an opportunity of the kids potentially have moved home. There might be this opportunity of freeing up a little bit of time and headspace. Now's a great time to take up painting or salsa. ****. Filling that void of finding something that creative outlet and saying to yourself, in Chinese medicine, the uterus is, in fact, the hub of creativity. Anybody with uterine problems or endometriosis or infertility will often be like you're prescribed to go and do something really creative. There's a creative block. The idea of if you want a healthy uterus, you look at what can you be doing creatively in your life? And it might be designing, it might be gardening. So it doesn't have to necessarily be producing an artwork. It's certainly something that has that wonderful creative flow, which I think in this modern day, we perhaps deviate away from you don't have much time to sit and draw or paint or play with clay, but it's considered medicinal. It's considered part of a healthy aging process to have an outlet for that.

[27:34] Sonya: Yeah. And I love that. Again, I can't remember which number it was, but one of the steps is around having a healthy sex life. And I think it's so important that we talk about that because, you know, we talk so much about the vaginal dryness and we talk so much about this lack of libido and loss of sex drive and which, you know, there's actually some really interesting perspectives on. And we tend to, I guess, perhaps reflect more on a lack or a loss of sex rather than focusing on actually this is a time when you can really step into your sexuality and your, you know, really benefit from having a really healthy sex life.

[28:21] Kath: Look, I couldn't agree more. And what disappoint that's, number five, what I'm disappointed about is that it's not a leg of the chair. I would love for that to be the leg of the chair because it is so important and it's a real pleasure and being human and showing up in a feminine way. And I'm often really focused on making sure women understand that's. Also, sex with self one of my biggest things when I first started the book, I was trying to shoehorn in as much as possible that I have this theory that masturbation is good for menopause. So it's based on the vaginal, vaginal cavity of the vaginas of a tube. And what can happen because of the low influence of estrogen, it starts to get narrower and shorter. And that's why you end up with things like vaginal atrophy. And that the inside that the ******** which sits surrounding the vaginal tube has the same erectile tissues as the *****. And so often female sexuality is female erectile dysfunction. And so the whole kind of concept of keeping it active, keeping the ****** well attended to. And so as part of that, the idea that women should be encouraged to just ********** regularly as part of good vaginal hygiene. But unfortunately, and I'm sure you won't be surprised by this, a little bit like cocaine and menopause, there really is no research around masturbation and menopause, which I'm really disappointed, which is such a shame, isn't it? Not only that, right back in the early days, back in 2018, I contacted a website, which is the entire website is around promoting female self pleasuring. So basically a masturbating leading masturbating website. And I messaged them, I said this, I'm researching this book and would you be interested in doing some collaborations around getting some data on your audience? And we can sort of write it into we'll write it into the book around it being master vocabulation is great for menopause and the media contact emailed me back and said, thank you for making contact. However, seniors is not our. Target audience.

[30:35] Sonya: Oh my goodness. Did you want to just jump through the screen and punch the person in the face?

[30:43] Kath: And then I went back onto their website and I actually noticed. I was like, yeah, you're right, because you've got a lot of the content, like these sort of 23 year old girls going like, you know, we're independent and we don't need a man, and we've evolved. And it was around sort of female autonomy. And I loved that. But I was like, why is it that at 45 put out to pasture? And I thought I was so disappointed. But it also, in a way, showed that's how far we've got to come.

[31:11] Sonya: Why can't seniors be catered for post menopausal senior? We all have the same needs. We all have the same desires. You know, why should we not be encouraged, included and encouraged in all of those conversations?

[31:29] Kath: It is, and it's wonderful. I can refer back to the USA sitcom Grace and Frankie with Jane Fonda and Lily Tom, who isn't it on the table? It's brilliant. So anybody who hasn't seen it must do it's based on women in their 80s who develop a sex toy company. And I think it's just that concept is really it means it's on the table and we need to be talking about this. And of course Jane Fonda is leading the way. Of course she is, because that's what she does.

[31:56] Sonya: She's amazing.

[31:57] Kath: It's really that idea that cultivating the nourishment of life tradition is having a healthy sex life. And it is considered part of being human and part of being a healthy balance. And what I rallied against is that sex has to be heterosexual and it has to be within a partnership or a marriage. It's like, oh, to me, having a healthy sex life is loving yourself, having a wake.

[32:24] Sonya: I think that's a really not just for the boys.

[32:26] Kath: That's right. You're just going, like, let's write in the detail, shall we, and what that looks like, because I think sex and.

[32:32] Sonya: Normalize the conversation and sex is often.

[32:35] Kath: Sort of talked about in terms of dating and partnership and romance and coupling. And it's like, well, let's just broaden the scope. And again, coming back to let's just talk about the physiology. Let's talk about the ****** as a muscle and the tissues are involved and what it means to have that idea of sort of self neglect in the same way. Often say people that women often lack libido. And I said he said, Well, I just don't feel like it. And I said, well, how often do you feel like brushing your teeth? You do it because it's a good part of dental hygiene. So it's around not necessarily waiting to feel it, but also, it's a paradox of if the more you do it.

[33:12] Sonya: The more exactly right. I have a great interview on my podcast with Kelly Casperson. I'm not sure if you're familiar with kelly's work. So Kelly is an MD in America. In the US. And she's actually, I think she's a urologist, but she became really fascinated in sex as a result. There was a thread that was common through her patients. And so she kind of like her day job is as a urologist, but she's got this whole other business that she's built and she's just recently, this year, published her first book, which was You're Not Broken, is the title of her book. And she talks a lot about desire and she talks about, you know, you might not what people think that they have to have desire to then have sex, but actually the process of having sex is what initiates desire. And she talks about changing the way that we think about sex and having sex, and that if we wait for the desire, then we're probably never going to have sex.

[34:29] Kath: This is because a lot of my patients will say things like, I feel dead from the waist down. But then they'll also say, well, if I get started and it takes a little while longer, but actually I can turn up and get into it. I can get into it. And so, again, it's looking at how a relationship might need to adapt for that and looking at how to in this idea of what we're going to have to schedule sex a little bit like dental care, you know, sort of the opposite team to be so often because you know, it's good for you. And then I do the same kind of idea of having to just accept, as you say, the actual arousal part comes after the initiation. You don't have to feel aroused to initiate sex.

[35:07] Sonya: That's right.

[35:08] Kath: Get the ball rolling, so to speak. And in my mind, I always visualize sort of a shed or a barn with this magnificent vintage car that you don't want to drive it to the supermarket, but you've got to turn the engine over. So the idea of if you neglect this, that if you neglect a vehicle, if you neglect this incredible piece of technology, that it's going to ultimately disintegrate, just like the engine of a beautiful, classic car. That's what the ****** is. Just keep it turned over, keep the engine running, keep the appetite going.

[35:45] Sonya: The image that I got then when you were talking about this car, was the old cars that had the crank in the front of them that you have to wind up the crank before the engine will start kicking over.

[35:56] Kath: There's lots of analogy here, lubrication and oil and the idea of having an engine starts cold and it gets warm and then that sort of idea starts and then it starts. I was just thinking of a lovely sound, an old engine running and just going, wow. And then you take it for the drive.

[36:15] Sonya: Yeah. Then you've got the wind in your hair and you're sailing down the highway.

[36:19] Kath: And then you're down the highway and then you arrive at your destination. That's what we're all here.

[36:26] Sonya: I think we just wrote a short movie script.

[36:37] Kath: The menopause. I love it. Women are pragmatists. We get it. We're probably more likely to maintain good vaginal health. If you've got an analogy that you can attach it to. But it's also around loving the female body. One of the things that you'd be exposed to this a lot as well is I'm so cautious about buying into the industry of women hating themselves or hating their bodies. Menopause another thing we should hate ourselves for. It's another thing to suffer through. I'm really keen, and maybe this is a wonderful note to end on is that rebranding of menopause? It is a classic car. You know, it is. You know, the idea I actually had somebody say to me something along the lines of it's like menopause is gold, it's reaching the golden era. It's always cryptocurrency that's unstable menopause is as solid as gold. And I really love that. In fact, on the front cover of our book, we've got a golden moon. It's a full moon rising over the sea. And the gold is to represent that stability. And that's wonderful. The alchemy of gold. Gold is very malleable, but it's very strong. It's continued to held its currency and it will forever have value. And I feel like that's our womanhood as we.

[37:57] Sonya: I love that because I talk a lot about the post menopausal stage that you step into. For me very much became a time when I felt like I could truly step into my power and I can really show up in the world as the woman that I want to be. And I often talk as well. From a physiological point of view, a testosterone does rise a little bit and I think that has a little bit to do with it. We become a bit more ballsier or we become a little bit more confident and a bit more like a man in some respects. But that does give us that freedom and confidence to really step up. And we have so many years left to live and we have this incredible opportunity to absolutely make the most of those years.

[38:47] Kath: I love it. And just a lovely visualization of that is in Chinese medicine. I'm sure everyone's familiar with the principles of yin and Yang. And so yin is the moon and it's nourishing and cooling and very homely. Yang is the sun and it rises and it's burning. And that's what we see, quite literally, the menopause is a decrease of a woman's yin and a rising of the woman's Yang, and that's the hot flushes and that's the night. So this is all these hot type conditions. So I encourage any woman that's going through these sort of hot type, particularly unpleasant symptoms to see that that's your power rising. And it's wonderful to imagine the sort of the Phoenix coming out of the ashes, that that's what the menopause is just wonderful. It's exactly as you say. Do you see the increase of testosterone, the increase of this Yang energy, and then thinking, what are you going to do with that? This is your gift, that wonderful opportunity, as you say, to make great choices and make independent, autonomous, completely in a full agency of being able to live this last part of your life in a way that you really, truly want to.

[39:55] Sonya: Yeah, I love that. And I love that Phoenix Rising imagery is just so powerful. Amazing. Kath, thank you so much for this conversation. I have absolutely loved connecting with you, and I absolutely resonate with your philosophy, and I love the traditional Chinese medicine. And obviously, the scientific brain that you have behind all of that as well is just brilliant. Now, if anybody is listening, obviously I'll link everything through in the show notes, but how can women find out more about you and the work that you're up to?

[40:28] Kath: But again, the book is available on the Journal of Chinese Medicine website. I did write it for my colleagues. It's for practitioners to use in their clinical practice. But I would love for women to have access to that information as well. So the idea is that it's available to be able to look up and see, and hopefully we've written it in a way that's accessible as well. But I can be found through the Treating Women Academy at Treating

[40:50] Sonya: Beautiful. Wonderful. I will make sure we link through to all of that in the show notes. Now, Cathy, I do have one question, and I am putting you on the spot because I forgot to prep you for this, but I do tend to finish my interviews by asking, what are you reading, listening, or watching right now that is bringing you joy?

[41:09] Kath: Oh, what a wonderful question. Well, I'm reading a book called how to Own the Room. I'll have to give you the author's name, but it's not around public speaking so much as how to be the person that holds the space that people listen to. And it's particularly written for women. So it's written in a way that says, and again, it's around this idea of going, this is your chance. You're given the microphone. What are you going to do with it? And I really love that. I'm reading a lot around what's empowering women and how to own a platform and really take on a leadership role. I love that. Loving it.

[41:49] Sonya: Yes. I'm definitely going to look that up, and I will definitely link that through in the show notes as well. For anyone that's listening that is as intrigued by that book as I am. Kath, thank you so very much. Have an amazing rest of your day in a beethah.

[42:02] Kath: Thank you. Thanks for having me on the show. Thank you again for all the work that you do getting wonderful information out to the women.

[42:10] Sonya: Thank you for listening today. I am so grateful to have these conversations with incredible women and experts. And I'm grateful that you chose to hit play on this episode of Dear Menopause. If you have a minute of time today, please leave a rating or a review. I would love to hear from you because you are my biggest driver for doing this work. If this chat went way too fast for you and you want more, head over to Au podcast for the show Notes. And while you're there, take my Midlife quiz to see why it feels like Midlife is messing with your head.