Jo's blog: It's All About Timing
This year I turned 50 and decided to return to work after a long career break. Thank God for HRT!
My peri menopause symptoms probably started subtly over the last few years, but the roller coaster really picked up the pace during the early part of this year.
I had night sweats and trouble sleeping, and seemingly random mood fluctuations. My periods were all over the place – which was another stress all by itself! But one of the more prominent symptoms for me was anxiety. I went from being a relatively carefree person to someone who was almost constantly on high alert to potential pitfalls on nearly all aspects of life. COVID certainly heightened anxiety for many of us, but as life returned to some semblance of normality, my anxiety did not. I could not shake the feeling of doom and I could (and I did) talk myself into any number of desperate scenarios.
Chats among girlfriends provided some useful and encouraging information, but I attended a women’s health seminar that was primarily focused on the menopause, and this was undoubtedly one of the best decisions I have ever made.
A GP presented facts and in language we could all understand, explained the science along with the treatment options. Many stories were shared about the different experiences’ women have had with various medical professionals, with support levels varying wildly from being dismissive of symptoms to local GP’s being very informed and supportive. Sadly, quality treatment seems a bit of a lottery.
The reality is, a typical GP appointment is 10 minutes and even with the best will in the world, this is never going to be sufficient to cover something of this magnitude but being pre-informed on symptoms and treatment options made a massive difference. I had also made a note of my symptoms and tracked them as much as possible, so I had evidence (to be honest this part was so I could evidence to myself that I was not losing my mind, as much as it was to show my GP!)
I started HRT 3 months ago and it has been life changing, almost instantly. Now that I am further down the road, I have new questions and I feel tweaks need to be made to get me back to where I would like to be, but for the first time in a long time I know I’ll get there.
It is also encouraging to see more open conversations on the menopause. My mum and my mother-in-law both openly talk about their HRT days, but both acknowledge that it was not a topic they would have been able to openly talk about when they needed it most! Last week saw World Menopause Day prompting many events and conversations around the menopause. In my new company the menopause was front and center of our internal communications all of last week.
As always there is much work still to be done. Currently it is estimated that in some parts of the UK only 10% of women of peri menopause and menopause age take HRT. Or to turn that shocking statistic around – in some parts of the UK, 90% of women eligible for treatment are currently not receiving it. It may not be for everyone but there is still a lot of misunderstanding around the science and there are still far too many women are still being prescribed anti-depressants or being led to believe they ‘just need to get on with it’!
Jo is married and has two boys and spoilt puppy and has recently returned to work in Financial Services.