“I hope that sharing my own menopause story will shine a light on a natural part of ageing that all women will experience, but do not always know much about.
Five years ago, I started experiencing lots of subtle little ‘niggles’. My body felt like it was falling apart. I began to realise that I was, in fact, going through the perimenopause, the period of time leading up to the last period. I am a GP Practice Nurse and have been nursing for 36 years so the things I do day to day in my job are familiar and comfortable. However, that all changed. Gradually I found normal tasks, for instance, giving injections suddenly became a source of anxiety and I began to doubt my abilities. This was very unsettling and I began to feel low in mood. After trying to deal with this for some time, and after having one episode where I found it difficult to rationalise my increasing and terrible feelings of anxiety I went to see my GP. I explained how I was feeling. He was very insistent that I was suffering with anxiety and depression. I had mentioned that I thought that I was in the perimenopause but he was not receptive to this and prescribed me SSRI anti depressants. As my anxiety and low mood were escalating I took them for a few months and although they helped to a certain extent I knew that they were not dealing with the real cause of my symptoms.
I stopped them and spent the next few years ‘ toughing ‘ out my increasing symptoms and tried a variety of herbal supplements, exercise and even a short course of CBT psychological therapy which I arranged myself. None of which really helped. My last period was three years ago and my symptoms continued. I was finding work and my daily life difficult and was struggling with hot flushes day and night. I was exhausted and felt like I had become someone else.
On National Menopause Day last year, my long suffering husband told me to listen to a phone-in radio programme with a menopause doctor, Dr Louise Newson. I had to see this doctor. This programme was the beginning of a very positive change in my life. My own doctors were not recognising that my symptoms were due to the menopause and I wanted to see a specialist. I made an appointment to see her and was prescribed HRT (there are many types and I am taking one that is body identical).
Over the past four months, I have noticed a gradual reversal of my menopausal symptoms. My hot flushes and night sweats are gone, my anxiety has disappeared and I feel so much more energised and positive. I think I may be back to my old self! My family and friends have noticed a very welcome change in me and I am very happy. Finally, I’m receiving the correct treatment. As a nurse, I feel it is my role to increase awareness of the menopause to my patients, friends and GP colleagues. Antidepressants are not the correct treatment for anxiety and depression caused by the menopause. It is important to recognise that if women are experiencing menopausal symptoms in their forties and fifties, all treatment options should be discussed including HRT.
Women need to be empowered to understand that although the menopause is a very normal and natural process, it can be extremely debilitating and lonely and that they do not have to suffer in silence. Treatment with HRT is an option for some women.”
Last Updated: May 2018