After years of struggle and difficult symptoms, HRT provided huge relief for Mena.
My menopause began when I was 42. At this point, I was Mother to two adopted boys, aged 3 and 5 yrs. As I missed some periods I wondered if nature was having the last laugh - I might be pregnant! It wasn't to be, instead, I had entered the little talked about "change"
As the weeks passed, I found myself increasingly tired and weepy. Par for the course with two energetic boys, I thought.
Gradually the "hot flushes" arrived, at first brought on by coffee or wine but gradually becoming more frequent and unheralded. During the day I coped by just saying "please excuse me I'm having a hot flush" but nights became a nightmare of night sweats - I would wake two or three times, soaked to the skin, and often, after numerous change of bed clothes, I would end up sleeping on a towel.
I visited my trusted G.P. and family friend in the early stages, when he confirmed I was menopausal, and again, some years into the process, when I really wasn't coping very well. By now the mood swings were very unpleasant for all around me and I was permanently tired from the lack of a good night's sleep.
Brian, trusted GP and friend, recommended that I should not go on HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy). as not having children put me at a higher risk of breast cancer etc. He said he would be reluctant to prescribe HRT for his wife and that sounded a good enough reason for me to grin and get on with it!!!
He also added the footnote that "the change" could last 15 to 17 years for some women--the gas oven looked an option with this news.
More time lapsed and I again visited our practice for something quite unrelated. Brian by now was on sabbatical and I saw a wonderful young female GP.
"How are you?" she asked "Great!" I replied, as usual. "But how are you really?" Floods of tears followed "I'm bloody awful" came the tearful reply.
She wondered why I wasn't on HRT, I explained Brian’s attitude to it and was quickly told, in no uncertain terms, that men had no concept of how debilitating the menopause can be in a woman's life and she prescribed a modest dose of HRT.
The effects were almost instantaneous. I felt better, the depression lifted, I slept better and began to feel like my old self. Dr Christie and I both decided we would limit taking the drugs to 4 to 5 years. After 3 years, I came off them for a few weeks to check my progress but the old menopausal symptoms returned quickly, so I continued for another 2 years. On finally coming of HRT, I still had the odd symptom but certainly nothing like before, the worst was well and truly over.
In all, the "change" lasted 17 years. But to this day, I believe my body's thermostat is "shot" I still get the odd flush drinking wine or coffee and close body contact can still prove a problem, need I say more!!
However I would say, there is a good life to be had after all this. Also, not everyone is affected in this way, in fact, my dear friend sailed through without ever having a flush!
A wonderful, supportive and understanding husband was essential but how he lived with me at times I'll never know-- I know I was having great difficulty living with ME.