What did you want to be when you were at school/growing up? If it was different, why did you change your mind?
I have always wanted to be a doctor. When I was very young, I used to play doctors and nurses with my father and would make him be the nurse. My father died from a glioblastoma when I was only 9 – I still miss him every day. After his death I decided I wanted to be an oncologist as it seemed so unfair and wrong for a previously healthy person to die from cancer aged 40.
Do you have any regrets about becoming a doctor?
Not at all. It has been harder but also more rewarding than I ever had imagined it would be.
What has been your toughest career decision?
Deciding to leave hospital medicine. I thought I would be letting my father down and my mother was really disappointed when I told her I was going to be a GP. The hierarchy of medicine has always been so wrong – why should a GP be “inferior” to a hospital consultant?
Can you describe your work/what you do in 1 sentence?
My mission is to improve the global health of women – everything I do works towards that goal.
If you could go back in time and give one piece of career advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Learn about the menopause as an undergraduate and consider hormones in all consultations with women – that would have changed my consultations so much over the past 29 years of being a doctor.
What 3 factors make you skip into work?
Being surrounded by an incredible team of people. Variety – from consulting with patients to having business and research meetings to writing articles. Knowing that my work is making a difference to many people.
What are the main factors that make you frustrated at work?
The slow pace of change. Every day I hear or read stories about women who are struggling to receive help and treatment, despite them asking for it.
The lack of funding for education and research into the perimenopause and menopause.
I am frustrated with the misogyny, bullying and medical gaslighting that occurs to women – and also to me personally.
Why would you recommend your career to a young person?
Doing medicine is an incredible passport to different career opportunities, both inside and outside medicine. If you don’t like a speciality you can move.
Why did you pursue a portfolio career?
I wanted a family and flexibility. After doing an oncology job and completing my medical rotation, I was keen to stay in hospital medicine. I tried to find some good female role models, but instead I found many female consultants who were lonely, disillusioned and single.
At that point I decided to become a GP. After my first daughter was born 20 years ago, I worked part time as I knew I wanted to be there for her as much as possible. Being able to attend every school concert and collect my children from school has been priceless.
Would you recommend a portfolio career?
Yes. Having a portfolio career has made me a more inquisitive and more academic doctor than I would have been if I had worked full time in one job. Being a doctor, medical writer and educator has allowed me the freedom to choose my hours and also keep up to date with medical research.
What has been your best career move?
Opening my menopause and wellbeing centre in Stratford-upon-Avon.
What qualities do you think you need to do your job well?
Being determined and focused, having the ability to multi-task and see things from another person’s perspective are all essential qualities. Also, I am a good listener and reflect a lot.
What 3 words would your colleagues use to describe you?
Hard working, fast paced and empathic.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever got from a patient or work colleague?
Ignore detractors and haters – they will negatively affect you. I apply this advice nearly every day when the noise from such people amplifies.
What do you do to relax/de-stress?
Ashtanga yoga – I practise yoga regularly as it helps to clear my mind and keep me strong – both physically and mentally.
On a typical day, what do you eat for lunch, where and how long is your break?
I am really careful about what I eat. The chef Ottolenghi is my inspiration and most days I bring in a salad that I have made in advance from one of his fabulous books.
Where are you happiest and why?
I am happiest when my family is happy and healthy. The phrase “you are only as happy as your least happy child” is so correct. My children have had various health issues – including sepsis and severe migraines – which have been so hard for the entire family.
Are you an extrovert or introvert and why?
I am an introvert – I do not have the confidence that people think I do. I am uncomfortable in crowds, and I dislike going to parties on my own! My mother always says that my self-confidence was taken away from me the day my father died.
What do you hope will be your legacy to your profession and colleagues?
That the menopause will be considered in a different way – as a risk factor for future diseases and is taken seriously.
What's on your to-do list for the next 12 months?
As well as empowering more women by improving their knowledge about the perimenopause and menopause, I am keen to share my knowledge and educate healthcare professionals. There is often still gender inequality in medicine and I am really proud to be on the board for WIMIN (Women in Medicine International Network), which is an organisation that provides progressive meetings where women in medicine can share their knowledge in a safe space.
I am really looking forward to our conference in September where we will be discussing topics including gender inequality, sexual harassment in medicine and also menopause in the workplace.
Is the thought of retirement a dream or a nightmare – and why?
Nightmare – work is my life! However, I would like more time to spend with my husband and family when I am not distracted by work.
Louise Newson is a GP and menopause specialist. After studying medicine and pathology at the University of Manchester, she pursued a career in hospital medicine before moving to specialise in general practice and medical writing.
She developed a specialist interest in the menopause and in 2018, she established Newson Health, a clinical service offering women support in managing the perimenopause and menopause.
A member of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), a Fellow of Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and a Visiting Fellow at Murray Edwards College, Cambridge University, she has written and contributed to many academic papers and abstracts. Her main research interest is the role of female hormones in reducing biological ageing.
Described as the “medic who kickstarted the menopause revolution,” she is a No.1 Sunday Times bestselling author for her book Preparing for the Perimenopause and Menopause.
She is the creator of the menopause support website Balance and also founder of its linked award-winning app. She created a podcast series about the menopause, which has been ranked several times as the No.1 medical podcast in the UK by Apple.
In addition, she has developed a free menopause education programme for healthcare professionals which has been downloaded by over 30,000 clinicians globally.