Lash-Ed Issue 4 October 2019 - Page 46

Why Menopause Matters

In July 2012, I underwent hysterectomy surgery including removal of my ovaries which put me into surgical menopause overnight. Having received no information or advice about menopause either prior to or after my surgery, I was discharged from the hospital after 48 hours and told to visit my doctor in about six weeks time.

The hot flushes began almost immediately but at my appointment with the doctor a few weeks later I politely refused HRT (hormone replacement therapy) when it was mentioned. The doctor didn’t ask why and I didn’t tell her, I had read some things I didn’t like the sound of and had decided to see a nutrionist who had promised she could help, sadly, for me, that turned out to be an empty promise.

I felt useless, hopeless and worthless

A few months after my surgery things went very wrong very quickly; I seemed to lose my confidence overnight, I was constantly anxious, I couldn't sleep, I became increasingly emotional and irrational. I had never experienced depression but each day felt darker than the last and I felt like I was dragging myself through waist deep treacle. I felt useless, hopeless and worthless. I was no longer functioning; I had lost my joy.

Life got very scary and I remember thinking that if this was what life was going to be like I was not sure that I wanted to be here in anymore. Soon after I came very close to taking my own life and on the same day my husband rushed me back to see the doctor. I was terrified as I was convinced that I would spend the rest of my life on anti depressants or the animal derived HRT that I didn't want to take.

46 | Menopause Special Feature

I stuck my first HRT patch on that day and quickly noticed an improvement.

The doctor explained that the major loss of natural oestrogen when my ovaries were removed was causing the symptoms and in my case only HRT could replace it. Through the sobbing I explained my concerns and it was only then that I was told there were different types of HRT and that I could have one that was plant derived. I stuck my first HRT patch on that day and quickly noticed an improvement. Initially I was delighted but then I was angry, why had nobody given me the information that I needed before my surgery and how many other women were struggling with menopause symptoms the way that I had?

It is fair to say that the experience changed my life and I now counsel other women experiencing menopause, present to organisations looking to understand menopause and support their staff and lecture to wellbeing professionals about the impact of menopause and how they can support their clients.

. . .poor menopause education for health care professionals is a barrier to getting the right help and support.

It has become clear in my work supporting women that poor menopause education for health care professionals is a barrier to them getting the right help and support. Although we have NICE guidelines in menopause care they are not enforced and many GP’s have not read them. I have counselled women who have been told they are too young to be experiencing menopause; told they

are depressed and prescribed anti depressants or that they