#IamMenopausal

At balance app, we are running an #IamMenopausal campaign to highlight to the world that the menopause affects individual lives in every corner of the globe, all with their own unique story and experience.

Even though Menopause Awareness Month has come to an end, we want to ensure that the conversation continues and is not a topic that is just highlighted once a year.

We want to give those living through the menopause a voice – but more importantly, a voice that is heard. There is so much misinformation, taboo and stereotype around the menopause, which is an unacceptable and shocking reality for an event that happens to over 50% of the population!

 

To get a holistic view of the menopause and its impact, we reached out to our fantastic community and asked people from all walks of life to provide us with a headshot and a short description about their menopause experience.

The response we’ve had has been quite profound; seeing all the images and stories together gives us a powerful visual presentation of the widespread nature of the menopause. But more than this, it has truly emphasised the resilience, determination, and thirst for life that so many people living through the menopause have.

Explore just some inspirational stories below!

My name is Emma and #IamMenopausal.

I’m 43 and started peri menopause at 36. I have Indian heritage and my grandmother also went through early menopause. I have seen menopause as a second spring, an opportunity to reassess and evaluate and move forward feeling more empowered with a strong sense of self awareness of who I am as a woman. Going through this early, before any of my friends was quite an isolated place, however now I am able to support and guide them through it and given an openness on the subject so they will never feel alone. I have 4 boys and I have been educating them on the menopause.

My name is Melanie and #IamMenopausal.

I am 56 years old, and Afro Caribbean descent. I have been going through my menopause for about 5 years now,  I have tried a variety of HRT treatments, which have been very effective, but I have suffered with various side effects. My menopause journey has had a quite an impact on me at work, brain fog, flushes and so on, especially during the covid 19 pandemic as a midwife having to wear PPE, when I’m already hot has often left me feeling anxious and very stressed. I love life and enjoy doing many activities with my children and grandkids. I try my best not to let the menopause stop me living life to the fullest. 

My name is Anita and #IamMenopausal.

I am Nigerian and grew up speaking my native dialogue Edo, so #Ifianọmọnẹ (#IamMenopausal translation in Edo).

I was diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Failure at 19 years old. I saw my only period briefly at 15 years old and never established any other bleeding following this. I was told it’s normal that some people get their period later in life.

I suffered for years with the emotional, psychological, and physical symptoms of menopause, even having difficulties at school.

Unknowingly, I was already menopausal but only found out when I sought medical advice. I was told I wouldn’t be able to have kids without the help of a donor egg and that my uterus and cervix were very small and underdeveloped. The cause of my menopause is unknown (called idiopathic).

Looking back, I realize some of the symptoms I had experienced, without knowing, were related to Premature Menopause. These included pelvic pain, anxiety, dizziness, fainting, headache, night sweats, hot flashes, mood swings, brainfog in addition to vagina dryness, low libido, joint and body aches.

I am a women’s health advocate, public speaker, I live in Ireland, and I am the founder of Blossom living with POI.

I am a Supporter of The Menopause Charity who are working hard to bust myths, overcome ignorance, and make menopause symptoms history for women worldwide. Let’s get talking and sharing #ownyourmenopause.

I am a self-talker who loves to travel, cook, dance, sing, and I am the god mother to two handsome boys.

My name is Ana and #IamMenopausal.

I’m from Costa Rica and grew up speaking Spanish. I came to Canada at the age of 9 with my immediate family. I was diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Insufficiency when I was 14 before puberty. 

 

In 1998, my mother took me to the doctor because I was 14, had no period yet, and no breast development. Prior to my diagnosis I was experiencing joint pain, unexplained weight gain, fatigue, headaches and night sweats. I was completely eggless at the time of my diagnosis.

 

My self-esteem was destroyed due to my delayed physical development, and my heart broke the minute I was told I’m infertile. I was placed on HRT immediately, and completed my growth spurt by the age of 20. I suffered significantly for years from horrific menopausal symptoms and with my mental health. There was no social media back then, and I grew up feeling very lonely and shameful of my condition. I had no real support or knew anyone like me. So I stayed quiet and suffered in silence. I felt very alone in this world. 

After allowing myself to finally self-heal and find acceptance to my POI only a year ago, I started a blog as a way to cope, and share very deep emotional posts on my thoughts and feelings on my POI journey. From my blog, my social media accounts were born, and now I dedicate myself to help other women [and trans and non binary people] worldwide struggling with POI, menopause and infertility. 

 

My dream is to quit my 9-5 job, and be able to dedicate myself full-time to advocating and bringing awareness to menopause. 

 

I’m happily married for 8 years, and we have our wonderful dog Max. I’m fortunate to have an amazing supportive husband. I love to write, read, travel, cook, draw, dance and old movies.  I’m a romantic at heart. 

My name is Corinna and #SonoInMenopausa.

At the age of ten my puberty slowed down and I started having all sorts of symptoms from migraines, to join pain – I kept getting injured so often and was on crutches multiple times a year – to dry vocal cords…. I was a singer so I had to stop doing what I’d been doing all my life, singing. I also suffered from insomnia, heart palpitations and anxiety, but neither my GP nor my paediatrician ever linked the dots. Instead they were very happy that as a preteen and early teen I was as flat as a surfboard and I hadn’t had my first period yet. 

I knew something wasn’t right in my body and I finally got to be referred to a paediatric endocrinologist at the age of fifteen. At almost sixteen years old – ten years ago – I was diagnosed with what I now know is POI – Premature Ovarian Insufficiency, or premature menopause. I was told I had a very rare condition and that my ovaries didn’t work and I would be infertile and would have to take some female hormones all my life. I wasn’t pointed to possible symptoms to watch out for, nor was I told about the menopause. I wasn’t given the correct dosage nor type of hormones for me until very recently, as doctors never really knew how to treat me. 

In Italy, where I grew up and lived until the age of 18, they couldn’t even prescribe HRT to me, so my prescriptions were in my mum’s name – at the time luckily menopausal. For ease of treatment I was moved to the birth control pill soon after and while on it I suffered all possible symptoms, from anxiety and mood swings, to eye, mouth and vaginal dryness, to joint pain, acne, IBS and more. Having gone from being a child, to suffering my menopausal symptoms as a teen, I don’t really know what it’s like to feel good and normal, so for about ten years I never linked the dots. Especially because every time I tried bringing my various symptoms up with doctors, including endocrinologists, I was dismissed. 

Because of my menopause I had to stop doing what I loved many times already in my life; from singing as my vocal cords are very dry, to my modelling career, as my feet ached so much in heels. I had tried googling my convoluted diagnosis name ‘Hypogonadotropic Primary Amenorrhea’ several times with no luck. At one point a few months ago, my symptoms just became too much, and I started doing more independent research. This led me to understand that what I had was actually idiopathic POI and to find a POI specialist doctor, and I am now on the right track in terms of treatment. 

I am so grateful to the community of women out there talking about this and to Doctor Louise Newson’s podcasts and resources, that helped me to accept my illness and diagnosis. I am the London Coordinator for Daisy Network, a charity supporting women with POI and I organise meetups and fundraisers with them. I run my own creative child care business CocoRio and I have my own place in London with my partner. I think every door that closes can be an opportunity, despite being incredibly painful at times, and for me every activity I had to stop due to my symptoms, has been replaced with a new challenge that has helped me grow into who I am today.

 

My name is Bianca and #IamMenopausal 
Meu nome é Bianca e #EusouMenopáusica

I am Brazilian, 38 years old and got my diagnosis while trying to become pregnant, age 36. Until that moment, infertility had never crossed my mind. Let alone Premature Ovarian Insufficiency.

Thankfully I could pay for medical care, exams and all. In this process, I found a myoma in my uterus and decided to get rid of it before any infertility treatment. Doctors took a look at my ovaries and said they were very small. The best way to go was egg donation. 

The treatment was successful and now I am a mother to a cute little boy. Just recently I´ve been able to focus on learning more about my condition. There is so little about POI in Portuguese…That’s how I found Dr Louise podcasts, which are a great help. Through them I found out about The Daisy Network, which supports women with POI. 

I decided to speak openly about my condition and became a regional coordinator for Daisy in Brazil. I also created an instagram account called Minha Menopausa Precoce (My Premature Menopause) to share my journey.

Information is power and community support is vital to our mental health. The balance app aims to provide us, women all across the world, exactly that. Thank you.

My name is Bhavna and #IamMenopausal.

My experience with menopause has been ongoing for several years. My symptoms were severe night sweats, hot flushes, brain fog and just a feeling of low mood due to all of this. I did all the right things like exercising, meditation and eating a balanced diet but it never got any better. My GP was not much help and told me I was going through menopause and as I had had a blood clot when I was 22, HRT was not even a possibility. 

This was when I had a conversation with my brother (Vinod Patel) who assured me that HRT patches would be perfectly fine for me to use. So my GP eventually prescribed me them and it was a complete life changer! Within 2 weeks I felt like a new woman and was back to my normal self again. As women [and trans and non binary people], I feel we definitely don’t talk about menopause as much as we should and we shouldn’t have to suffer in silence. 

 

As a British Asian of Punjabi descent the menopause was definitely not discussed as I was growing up or even as my mum was going through her menopause. The only recollection I have of her during that phase was that she would often say she felt very hot and her legs ached. My mum’s generation in my family at least don’t seem to talk about the menopause openly. I can only imagine how isolated and confusing it must have been for my mum and aunts. Of my own experience, as I entered peri menopause, I had no idea of it as a specific period of a woman’s life or of the symptoms. Any info that I gained was from my own research.

My name is Grace and #IamMenopausal.

I became perimenopausal at 37 and began getting symptoms including hot flushes, brain fog, mood swings and the list goes on…

As a lesbian, questions asked by my GP surrounding contraception and intercourse added an additional layer of sensitivity to the discussion. I could see the confusion on her face when I told her I was sexually active, and that no I didn’t use contraception. I finally put her out of her confusion and told her I was gay. She seemed to disengage and made a noise, as if to say “oh it’s not proper sex then”.

 

I left the GP practise with no treatment and felt completely unheard/unsupported.

Which brings me to why I strongly believe that more voices need to be heard from all backgrounds, race, sexuality, religions, agnostics and trans who choose to keep there wombs to enable to have a child birth and transition also… treatment choices need to be available, and for woman [and trans and non binary people] to be involved, because with no choice we have no voice. I believe that we need more funding, continued conversations, compulsory information in schools, the workplace and support in the workplace so that we are ready to fully embrace menopause.

I was finally heard after seeing the programme Davina had been so brave to make, with the support of Dr Newson’s amazing free balance app. It’s ground breaking, and so brave and so necessary. It’s still so hard to believe it’s taken this long to actually make a big noise about what’s been going on for generations. This documentary truly has empowered thousands of women. I’m one of those women. 

I tried every thing I could alone, alternative therapies, holistic, vitamins, over the counter well-woman brands, nothing worked until I asked for my hormones back. My body is still adjusting to the gel and tablet but I do believe I’m improving. Thank you all you helped me so much. 

My name is Sophie and #IamMenopausal.

I am 20 years old and live in Germany. I was diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (Idiopathic) four years ago, but I never experienced a normal period. My period started when I was 10, but I always had irregular bleedings that could sometimes be absent for up to a year. When it wouldn’t show up for about a year and a half when I was 16, I started to worry.

My mom and I went to a lot of doctors, but because they weren’t interested to test what therapy would work best for me, I finally got to a naturopath, which is where I am still. By taking a plant-based oestrogen cream and other natural drops, I had another two bleedings, each a year apart.

I am still at the beginning of my journey with POI and it took me some time to cope with the diagnosis. But now that I fought my way out of the overwhelming feelings, I feel ready to talk about it and accept that there are also times where I just want to enjoy life and not think about it.

My name is Eva Hlin and #IamMenopausal. 

I am Icelandic and 50 years old. When I started perimenopause, I didn’t even know it existed. I was a strong woman who loved hiking and mountain climbing, traveling, and living life, then gradually, I started having aches and pains, heart palpitations, hot and cold flashes, and unease. What the hell! I had gone from doctor to doctor, and no one considered the possibility that it was perimenopause that was making my life miserable!

Finally, just knowing I was in Peri and understanding what was happening, was a life saver. I wish someone had told me before! I want women [and trans and non binary people] to be informed, understood, and understand what #IAmMenopausal is and embrace it without fear or confusion but with confidence!

My name is Claire and #IamMenopausal.

 I was diagnosed with cervical cancer, lymph node positive in 2014.  I was 30 years old and had given birth to my daughter 5 months previous.

I was treated at The Royal Marsden Hospital in London and was advised due to my treatment plan; that this would force my body into early menopause.  It would take approximately 1 year to go through the menopause stages; unfortunately it took me only 2 months to reach menopause, accelerating through perimenopause and I have been postmenopausal for almost 8 years now (I am now 38). 

The hot flushes were the worst part for me, I honestly thought I was going to combust at times. The NHS put me on generic HRT, which was awful.  After 4 months, I had severe migraines weekly which were debilitating; at one point I was convinced I had a brain tumour. 

However, upon doing my own research I learnt about Hormone Replacement Therapy and undertook this treatment plan which changed my life. I never suffer with hot flushes or migraines and feel super. It has taken me a long time to get to this point and understand my body and hormone levels. I have never been embarrassed about entering menopause so early, I embrace it and see the positives in it.

My name is Ava and #IamMenopausal.

I am part German and grew up speaking German with my grandparents. I was diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Insufficiency when I was 17 years old, and have lived with the condition since 2009. I started my period when I was 13 years old, had it for about a year and then it started to get irregular and then stopped. 

 

My mom and I went to the doctor many times and it was always dismissed as this is normal, your period will come back. Finally after about two years we pushed to see a specialist.

On my first visit, off a blood test, I was bluntly told without any compassion that I had Premature Ovarian Failure (as they called it then) and that I wouldn’t be able to have kids. That was a big shock after hearing for so long that it’s fine, there’s nothing to worry about.

I never found out the reason why I have POI (idiopathic) and was told by specialists that I needed to accept it. I was on and off so many different hormone medications and birth control pills over the years and now I am on HRT.

I live in Canada, and work in the film industry as a performing artist, actor & public speaker. I am an adoptive Mom to my partner’s incredible daughter and I am very grateful to have a partner who is understanding and supportive. Together, we co-founded a charity called Innocence Lost Foundation which aims to provide education, skills training and therapy programs to former child soldiers and communities affected by war. Our first project is in Sierra Leone.

I love to travel, dance and spend time in my garden.

My name is Lisa and #IamMenopausal.

I am 50 years old and for the past 5-6 years have felt like I was only half alive. 

My mum died when I was 11 so I had no idea of what menopause was apart from “old ladies sweating and getting in a mood” 

I’ve always hated the thought of getting old so subconsciously buried my head in the sand about getting older. But I have changed so much as a person. I was the life and soul of every party/gathering/even on my own! Then something happened. I began to feel aches and pains so bad, and the fatigue was crippling. Brain fog is really bad and as a lawyer, I simply didn’t have time or couldn’t afford not to be able to think! I repeatedly had the urge to run away, go to a mental institution or get put in jail. Please don’t ask me to explain that. I can’t. 

I had test after test after test. Even a brain scan. I was put on antidepressants (of course!) and a cocktail of very strong painkillers which I am still taking. 

This was the life I had come to accept. Saying no to every social and work invitation. Not wanting to meet or speak with friends and family. Even my own partner and kids I just couldn’t be bothered with. Only my two beloved dogs would make me feel ok, I think because they never questioned me and I never had to explain. 

No one knew how bad I felt. I was going to bed at night not wanting for the morning to arrive. Not that I’d be sleeping much. That was the most comfortable time, physically and emotionally. In bed, in the dark, in the quiet. I would never take my own life but I didn’t care if I died. I even fantasised about being murdered. I sound insane I know. And I’ve never told anyone this. 

Anyway, I’d heard a lot about menopause in the workplace, and as an employment lawyer and an employer, I needed to know more so started my research. I came across the Davina documentary one night whilst scrolling through my tv planner. I watched it out of interest and it was the biggest lightbulb moment of my life. I think she is so brave to have made it, as were all the fantastic women that participated. Karen Arthur, the most amazing woman, was the one that resonated with me. It was like she was telling my story. I immediately took action. 

I went to my GP (male) and he told me I wasn’t menopausal because I didn’t have hot flushes or vaginal dryness. After screaming Davina 3 times, I scared him into agreeing to blood tests, which revealed I was menopausal. I’ve since been prescribed (by a slightly better female GP) HRT consisting of oestrogen and progesterone – but it’s not working. 

I’m SO grateful that I know what is ‘wrong’ with me but I am so angry that it’s just not something that was ever considered. I was in my mid to late 40’s when I was going to the doctors repeatedly and it was never discussed. This has to change. As does the ridiculously practically impossible task of us getting testosterone which I am 100% convinced it’s what I need!! 

I just want to be me again. 

I’m crying writing this, I’m so sad for all of us out there that have needlessly lost years of our lives to this very easily treated condition. I’m crying for us all and I’m determined to make change. I want to make sure my children never have to go through this, and for our GP’s to be educated to enable them to discuss menopause and are free to prescribe in confidence. 

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My name is Eileen and #IamMenopausal.

I am 64 and I started menopause when I was 48. I was given HRT which I was on for 5 years but was taken off it when I had a slight bleed and told I couldn’t take it any more.  For 9 years I suffered terribly with joint pain, hot flushes, night sweats, headaches exhaustion etc. Doctors just told me it wasn’t menopause because I should have gone through it! At 62, I finally got the help I needed after reading Dr Newson’s info and using the balance app. My GP was reluctant but finally agreed to give me HRT. It took almost 12 months to get the dosage right but I now feel like a new woman and better than I’ve felt in years!  Thank you to Dr Newson.

My name is Trisha and #IamMenopausal.

I’m peri menopausal, my journey has been quite difficult, trying to access the correct treatment for my symptoms, thankfully through my own research and accessing sites such as the balance app, I finally was able to approach my GP and explain what I wanted. It’s sad to say I was met with quite a bit of resistance, however, I was determined to get the treatment I thought was best for my body. I’m now 10 months into taking HRT and it has been life changing. I now talk about menopause openly within my work place to friends and family and I have encouraged other women to seek out the help they deserve. I think it’s ridiculous in this day and age that menopause is not recognised for the debilitating symptoms it can have on women [and trans and non binary people], however with the correct help you can start to live your life in a positive way again.

 

My name is Tina and #IamMenopausal.

I am a 55 year old who went through the menopause at 42. I had my son at the age of 40 and was hoping to have a second child. Approximately 1 year after my first birth, I was not feeling great and could not conceive so went to my local GP in Dubai for a blood test. He told me very bluntly over the phone that I was menopausal and I would not be able to have another child ! I was so shocked and upset 15 years ago there was really no information available especially in Dubai. 

I travelled to Australia the following month where my son had been born and saw my specialist there with my blood results he confirmed what I had been told and fortunately prescribed HRT. 

I have been on HRT ever since and felt fantastic. I was advised by several GPs I should stop taking it but I had done some reading and decided I didn’t want too yet. However, during last year’s shut down I ran out of HRT. I normally got my prescription from the UK as the drugs were not available here. 

Despite being 54 and being menopausal since 42, my symptoms were awful. I went to see a doctor in Dubai who put me on compounded HRT that was very expensive and did not relieve my symptoms at all. I persisted for 1 year hoping they would help. Eventually I heard of two doctors in Dubai who were specialised in the area of HRT and got another opinion. I am now on oestrogen gel and progesterone tablets and feel normal again.

I am a personal trainer, health coach and nutritionist and spend my time trying to educate and help women in a similar situation. I really believe my exercise and lifestyle have also helped my menopause. I will not be stopping the HRT again! 

My name is Dee and #IamMenopausal.

I would like to share my journey of hopefulness. I had always experienced terrible mood swings from the time I started my periods. Angry destructive self deprecating. So for 38 years this had been me! At 48 I began taking HRT which gave me back some energy, made my hair and skin look good but not much change in my internal messaging. 

At 50 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and immediately stopped HRT (not a good idea). I looked around for alternatives and started on progesterone cream. I put on about 10lbs in weight and had difficulty sleeping. I was still working and had just adopted an 8 year older girl. Emotionally I was a mess and the feelings of inadequacy grew. However it was at this time I had started 3 weekly yoga sessions and read Leslie Kenton’s book.

My journey had begun. In her book Leslie Kenton talks about Warrior Women and being a crone!!! I began to understand that I didn’t have to worry about sleeping I could be at my most productive. The yoga gave me head space and over the next few years my whole persona began to change. Living in the moment, taking big bites (in life), only worrying about what you can change. More importantly I began to like me. I was patient, loving and felt more confident. I suppose what I am saying is when you get to the other side of menopause you are the flower that was waiting to bloom. Glorious in your wisdom and beauty. That is my opinion and it matters not how someone else sees you.

Older women are beautiful, powerful and wise. In many cultures worshipped. This is my best time for being me.

My name is Lisa and #IamMenopausal.

I am 47 years old & started going through the menopause around 4-5 years ago. I nearly lost myself, my job and marriage.

The only way to describe how I felt apart from having every symptom under the sun is, “Where am I ??? Where has Lisa gone????”. 

This is real and we need to try and educate more professionals to start to talk to women [and trans and non binary people] from an early age so we are prepared and we understand what is happening to our bodies. The symptoms are endless and women are being advised incorrectly.

Hormone changes in our bodies can start so early and literally affect us from hair loss, bad skin, night sweats, exhaustion, body/joint aches and pains, anxiety, brain fog/memory loss, gut health, loss of libido to mental health – the list is endless however there is a name for this it is the Menopause.

We need to step up and be open and make sure we all have the opportunity to be helped either through HRT or by taking a holistic approach. Education is key for our health care professionals and also for us as women. The Menopause is real !!

My name is Jules and #IamMenopausal.

I am 51 and have had perimenopause and menopause symptoms for a couple of years. I soldiered on till the hot flushes and irritability became more than I could cope with and HRT has been the best thing I have done, along with keeping as fit and healthy as I possibly can whilst enjoying life. I can’t stress enough how important it is to get informed re HRT and the menopause. It is crucial for your future health, relationships and family life. My message to other women [and trans and non binary people] of all ages is ‘Don’t do menopause alone, it’s a battle you don’t need to fight!’

My name is Beverly and #IamMenopausal.

Although born in Wales, my parents are Anglo Indian. My menopause started in September 2018 and I assumed it was stress I was going through at the time. My husband had received a late diagnosis of cancer 3 weeks earlier and was to, unexpectedly, pass away 4 weeks later. The pain was unimaginable but the symptoms I experienced did not trigger menopause in my mind.

Fast forward to middle 2019 and I was told by a GP that I was peri-menopausal and prescribed migraine tablets that can control the hot flushes. By 2020/2021 have experienced joint stiffness, hair loss, weight gain (despite being in my 5th year of Slimming World), brain fog and loss of confidence, oh and the continuing hot flushes. After watching Davina McCall’s programme in May, I contacted my GP to prescribe HRT. 5 months and numerous blood tests and appointments with Gynae and Endrocrine later, and I am still having to jump through hoops. I have now been asked to do tests to rule out Carcinoid syndrome, which have the same symptoms as the menopause, and should get the results in 1-2 month.

I am hopeful that once these results are back, I can eventually be prescribed HRT.

My name is Paula and #IamMenopausal.

 I am British, of Irish & Greek-Cypriot heritage. I am 52 and perimenopausal. I’ve struggled the last few years with a range of typical symptoms; aching joints, hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, which I found very debilitating. I had asked the GPs for HRT a couple of times in the past year, but they were reluctant to prescribe. After downloading the balance app I was able to approach the GP confidently to request the correct HRT for my needs, and I am now feeling so much better on Oestrogel and Utrogestan.

My name is Polly and #IamMenopausal.

 I’m 46 years old and I’ve been experiencing menopausal symptoms for about 4 years and have been taking HRT for about two and a half. The hot flushes have been awful, sometimes showering, getting dressed, and then having to shower again. At night, insomnia, night sweats, and restless legs; by day, brain fog, forgetfulness, and extreme fatigue. But worst of all, I’m experiencing terrible anxiety, feeling panic at the thought of leaving the house, and fearful of pretty much everything. With age, I have learned to love myself more, yet I don’t know myself anymore, and the unknowing adds jeopardy to everyday life. 

I am not willing to stay quiet about menopause and my experience, because I want the world to respect women’s strength. 

 

My name is Lisa and #IamMenopausal.

I am an Irish lass living in Hong Kong, and I am 41 years old.

I was medically induced into the menopause two weeks after my 32nd birthday. I had a recurring tumour in my cervix and had to have 5months of chemo-radiation. Unfortunately, because the recurring tumour was so aggressive I didn’t have time to harvest my ovaries. 

 

At the time my main focus was to live and do what ever it took to stay alive, and thankfully I am here almost a decade on living the tale.

Throughout the last decade, I can honestly say I am super grateful to be alive but I feel that it’s ok to talk about how tough the menopause has been and continues to be. The biggest side-effects that have hit me hard are lack of memory and concentration (which caused severe anxiety at work), low libido, fertility, low energy some days and painful joints. I have taken HRT for almost a decade and I am truly thankful for it. I also had to start taking a serotonin up regulator and have noticed a significant increase in energy. As a UK Registered Nutritionist, even though I had the knowledge of nutrition science on what to eat to offset some of the side-effects, it doesn’t always work 100% and I am OK with having to take extra medication. My advice to anyone is don’t be a hero…ask for help!

I am super thankful for the work of Dr Louise Newson, and other important women in the UK who are raising awareness of the menopause. I have felt so alone over the past decade and now my friends are experiencing perimenopausal symptoms and more women are discussing it, I feel like I am part of a support group that I wish I had before. Forever grateful.

My name is Janice and #IamMenopausal.

I’ll openly admit I’ve been struggling. And for far too long. I’ve battled with out of date attitudes and misinformation from my GP and been refused treatment when I’ve armed myself with more knowledge than exists at my local practice. I’ve forwarded new reports and access to free training to them and yet I’m still quoted scare stories and inaccurate data that has long ago been disproved.

When my GP’s first comment was “I don’t know much about the menopause and my wife just got on with it” I knew I was in for a rough ride. I spoke to his wife who’s also a GP at the practice and heard, “I don’t understand why you can’t accept getting old.”

For me, the physical effects of the menopause are a challenge but they not as debilitating as the mental issues. Brain fog doesn’t begin to cover it and the swings from low mood down to deep depression, feelings of inadequacy, inability to focus and rollercoaster of emotions have been destructive to my sense of self and my work life.

The second part of my story is actually really positive. I made the decision to invest in myself by diverting some savings and consulting a doctor. I’m now two months in and have a full regime of advice and HRT. I’m starting to feel and see the benefits and have my follow up appointment later this month. 

I’m not in the financial position to continue buying the HRT privately, so will be endeavouring to get the prescription handed to my NHS GP, who has been kept informed about my treatment.  I’ve also recommended both the balance app to so many friends. I’ve spoken about it openly on my Instagram account @janicehosegood and had lots of messages of support as well as thanks for speaking up. So a huge thank you for everything that you’re all doing. 

My name is Victoria and #IamMenopausal.

I am 38, I started my periods when I was ten, which were extremely painful & heavy from day one. I was diagnosed with endometriosis and adenomyosis when I was 22 and had six surgeries, numerous types of medication and hormone treatment to try and help and eventually at 35, I had a total hysterectomy. Although my ovaries remained, I was displaying menopausal symptoms within 12 months and I am now in surgical menopause. I am on HRT and will be for the rest of my life. 

Endometriosis and early menopause have both played a significant part in my mental and physical health, I often feel a failure because of being in chronic pain and suffering with chronic fatigue. I desperately wanted children, but I wanted to live a pain-free life – this didn’t happen with my hysterectomy but being on HRT is helping. 

I am a keen advocate for women’s health, particularly early menopause and endometriosis and I hope to help and support others who are trying to navigate both, as they can individually have a huge impact on someone’s life. I believe all women [and trans and non binary people] should be entitled to HRT if they display menopausal symptoms, but we can only ensure this happens by having a voice and standing together. 

My name is Tara and #IamMenopausal.

I am a 49 year old proud and loved wife of a London Fire Fighter and mother of two amazing little girls 7 and 9 year olds. I have a great family, and a beautiful home. I work full time from home in a role that I absolutely love, with a team who I adore, and an outstanding leader, within an undeniably successful global organisation and well known family of brands. I’m blessed, right? 

Who could ask for more? Me!

I longed to feel normal. I’d got the hots, the fogs, the aches, fatigue, moods, the shouts and uncontrollable sobbing. I’d watched the brilliant Davina documentary and had the courage to ask for my bloods to be tested and subsequently agreed with my GP an HRT plan. I went from yuk to yippee in a matter of weeks. My tears were now of joy, I slept at night, I functioned well mentally and physically at home and work. Life felt incredible. This is how I could feel? WOW!

Then the rug was pulled after only a couple of months. I visited my lung specialist: last year I was diagnosed with a rare and chronic lung disease ‘Lymphangioleomyamatosis’ (LAM), which is a woman’s hormone driven disease with only 350 women suffers in the UK. 

My specialist advised that oestrogen may likely significantly fuel my disease. He said it was a decision I needed to seriously consider, and only I could make. He advised that even natural remedies mostly have oestrogen in, and if they do not then they are unlikely to manage my symptoms. My best alternative was to speak to my GP who advises a type of antidepressants to control the hot flushes.

I gradually weaned myself off of HRT over the next few months. My mood dramatically dropped and all of the old awful symptoms returned, and I was feeling more horrendous than ever.

I opted to try the antidepressants as I cannot live like this. I eventually reached the highest dose and still felt no change. I felt lost, empty and in a very dark place. I knew how it was possible to feel and to be ‘normal’ and happier. I’d been teased with a taste of the possible. 

My GP advised that I explore private menopause advice, but it was just not financial realistic once I’d enquired about it.

I hit rock bottom just a couple of weeks ago. I’d rather not revisit what I felt, or did, but I knew this had to be a turning point for me. I’d completely lost ME. I felt that I was of no use to myself or others. 

I spoke with my wonderful husband and we have agreed it time to make some big decisions. He, my girls and a very dear colleague have all noticed my negative changes.

In addition to LAM, I manage a permanent neuro condition called ‘Hemicrania Continua’ (24/7 evil twin of the migraine, and oesophagitis. These are all reasonably managed though.

I need to speak with my specialist and my GP to begin a trial of monitoring a low dose of HRT over time and the effects it will have on my disease. Life expectancy varies with my disease, but if I have 20 unhappy years to live or 10-15 beautifully enjoyed years, then I would take that: that’s worst case of course. I don’t want my family to remember me a permanently moaning, tired and unwell. I want me to be remembered with a smile, joy, pride and happiness. I’m currently no example to set for my little girls and not the best wife, either. They all deserve better.

I hope my story has a super awesome happy ending…

My name is Nicola and #IamMenopausal.

In 2016, I was 43 and had a partial hysterectomy. The menopause wasn’t really discussed before or after my surgery. Soon after the night sweats became debilitating, I was always anxious when accepting an invite to stay over with friends, and would put towels on the bed to hide my embarrassment. At work I no longer felt confident and the brain fog only helped fuel these feelings. 

Since discovering sites like balance and listening to podcasts, I’ve been able to arm myself with the facts and knowledge to approach a wonderfully supportive GP and get a referral to my local menopause clinic. I’m now taking oestrogen and testosterone which is helping  with my object recall and memory. I’m really hopeful that in time the benefits will multiply. My night-sweats have stopped and I wake up feeling rested. 

I work in HR so I had a platform to help others too. We’ve formed a support group within our Company and run sessions for line managers to support those that will experience the menopause. I no longer feel any sense of embarrassment when talking about the menopause and my mental well-being has improved ten fold. 

 

My name is Lesley and #IamMenopausal.

Looking back, I started having perimenopause symptoms when I was 39. I am now 43 and I have been on HRT for 2 years.  For the first few years I did not know what it was. I felt like I was losing my mind. My confidence plummeted and I was filled with anxiety and low mood. I wasn’t sleeping and I couldn’t concentrate. My view of myself and my ability to do the job I loved was at rock bottom. It wasn’t until my night sweats increased that I realised perhaps it was hormone related. My mum also went through the menopause early and wasn’t believed by her GP during her perimenopausal years. 

I was extremely fortunate 2 years ago for having a GP that listened and gave me the opportunity to try HRT. HRT has been amazing for me. It has enabled me to feel like me again and have the energy to enjoy my life. 

My name is Julie and #IamMenopausal.

I had been experiencing menopause symptoms for a few months and having watched my Mum go through a torrid time I was petrified. I helped shape the Menopause Policy at my work (one of biggest telecommunication company’s in Europe) to not only help my colleagues but also myself as I perceived the next few years were going to be challenging…until I was recommended Dr Newson and the Facebook page which led to the balance app and my life changed! Armed with a diary of my symptoms, great research articles and information (especially as I have the Mirena and didn’t know what the implications of this were) I met with my GP 8 weeks ago and she was so impressed she prescribed HRT patches immediately without any fuss. The change has been remarkable in such a short time, no more brain fog, night sweats or mood swings and I can now carry on with life. I spend my time now recommending balance and Dr Newson to everyone I speak to! Thank you for all you do and keep up the amazing work.

My name is Michelle and #IamMenopausal.

I would love to say I knew exactly when I started with perimenopause… it just crept up on me. I am 49, and after experiencing different symptoms – that on there own you don’t consider – but for me it was anxiety and brain fog that triggered my journey. I’ve not had children, so hormone issues took me back to age 12 when I started my periods. My mum suffered with hot sweats and ‘the change” for 10+ years, she never took HRT and was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993 and passed away in 1999 at the age of 66.  As a result, I was nervous about HRT, but my symptoms have increased till they broke me a few weeks ago during a particularly busy work period and I had to stop and stand still. I can honestly say 4 weeks later and I feel I am turning a corner. I know I might have to change the dosage, and I need to be more body-aware but I have a more positive perspective, education is key .

My name is Rachel and #IamMenopausal.

My (early) menopause (or more accurately, POI) journey can now, with that amazing gift of hindsight, be tracked back to being around 36. I wasn’t properly diagnosed until I was 42. In that time I could have honestly set up a camp bed in the doctors waiting room, I was there so many times. I felt beyond exhausted, looked terrible, had headaches, wonky periods, bouts of cystitis that lasted for months, UTI’s, kidney infections, aching muscles and joints, very low mood, anxiety attacks, panic attacks, heart palpitations, brain fog, memory problems, hair loss and awful problems with my digestion. I was sent for many tests and investigations but my hormone levels were never tested… until I was 42, when I turned up at the GP’s with a breast lump (thankfully just a cyst). When my hormone levels were tested it turned out that I was post-menopausal. Quite the shock really.

My very lovely GP was so relieved to finally find out what was wrong with this whingeing woman who’d been bothering her with all these problems for so long. She suggested HRT straight away. I took it and within DAYS I started to feel better. It’s been a bit of a journey to find the right dose and type. Louise Newson’s website was THE best source of menopause information and I used her easy prescribing guide when talking to my GP. I have also been lucky enough to be able to see a private menopause specialist who works together with my GP to ensure I am taking the right amounts of HRT (a high dose of transdermal estrogen, micronised progesterone AND testosterone have been required to get me functioning normally).

And here I am….years down the line…but finally feeling better, so much better – doing a new job, which I love, being a less grumpy mum and wife, enjoying my life 100%, like I had done before. I’m obviously a bit cross that all my symptoms never added up to menopause for the doctors that I went to see, and that years were seemingly wasted of me feeling like utterly awful, but (as my close friends know) I am on a mission to get people to find out about the treatment options for this mid life awfulness. I did all the right things – I exercised, ate healthily, drank less, tried to sleep more, but what I actually needed were hormones. Some women won’t need HRT of course, but so many will, and we (and our doctors) need to know more about it, and that it’s safer than we’ve been led to believe. My advice to all women is to keep being an advocate for your own health, keep searching for answers, keep supporting your female friends and tell them about Louise Newson and all her work to try and make things better for women. I am 45 now and can say that with the correct levels of hormones pulsing through my body I am so much healthier, and so much happier.

My name is Amanda and #IamMenopausal.

I’m 51, I live in the North of England. I was merrily on HRT for 18 months, happy as could be and living my best life. During a routine scan a tumour was found on my ovaries which necessitated a total hysterectomy with both ovaries and tubes removed in April 2021. This brought about immediate surgical menopause, I was upset to lose my testosterone and progesterone and had some post op associated self image and identity issues, but continued on oestrogen only HRT to good effect. However in August 2021, I learned I had breast cancer.

Upon diagnosis, I was ordered to stop taking my HRT. The affects were instant, hot flushes and sweats, joint pain, genito-urinary symptoms, sleeping difficulties, mood changes and brain fog. I am a shadow of my former self.

Medical staff, though kind, were only concerned with the cancer and treatments, they had little or no understanding of the menopause and it’s debilitating affects. In fact, the menopause symptoms for me were far worse than the cancer and treatment. Yes, I will live, but what quality is that life? Existing rather than living it seems.

I played sports and went to the gym every day, I was successful in a challenging job, I enjoyed a busy social life and sexual life…. but they all seem like an impossibility at the moment. I just don’t know what the future holds for me as it stands, because of the menopause rather than the cancer!

Most alternative treatments are also not suitable for breast cancer patients and I am left struggling to find answers. I feel sorry for all those whose cancer treatments cause menopause or whom cannot benefit from HRT due to a breast cancer history. There seems little recognition of those issues and I feel there needs to be more research on this and holistic support.

My name is Jo and #IamMenopausal.

I am 50 and have only recently put all the jigsaw pieces together to discover I am in perimenopause.

A friend added me to a social media support group because I was around the ‘right age’.  

I joined thinking at some point I will be, so no harm in seeing what I can expect.

Over the last few months the pieces have come together. The time I had off work in February with ‘stress and anxiety’, the constant brain fog, the memory loss making me feel I was going crazy, the huge mood swings, the intense irritability, the sleep deprivation, the list goes on and I felt like I just didn’t recognise myself.  The problem for me was the only symptom I had known about was hot flushes and I had never had those.

I heard about the balance app and this was the game changer!!!  Suddenly everything began to make sense. Around this time a lovely lady in work shared something with other female colleagues – she, like all of us felt alone but her reaching out triggered a tsunami of support.  We now have an informal support group to help each other through.

My hope is that my daughter reaches this stage of her life armed with the confidence to speak openly about her experiences and that women in the future don’t have to suffer unnecessarily like generations before them have.

My name is Tracy and #IamMenopausal.

I first started noticing symptoms at 36 and started visiting my GP straight away as I knew something was wrong with me. I was definitely made to feel like a nuisance every time I visited. My symptoms were so debilitating that I convinced myself I had a autoimmune disease. I had fatigue, joint pain, muscle pain, hair loss, anxiety, depression, no libido, rosacea, itchy skin, migraines, tingling sensations, acne, restless legs and the list goes on.

My mental health was rock bottom and living a normal life with three children and my partner was hell. I spent many occasions crying at the doctors, asking someone to please help me, as I was diagnosed on every symptom separately. I’ve spent a lot money seeing private doctors. At one point a rheumatologist diagnosed me with fibromyalgia, which I was not convinced about. 

My journey of fighting for diagnosis finally came to an end when I got diagnosed on my symptoms alone and at the age of 39 that I was perimenopausal. I’m now on HRT and my life is getting back to being worth living again. I’m so happy and grateful about this!!! 

Lucky for me I was able to go private and see a menopause specialist. If my GP was more educated on diagnosing the perimenopause, I wouldn’t have lost those years trying to prove something was wrong with me. Unfortunately, there will be many women [and trans and non binary people] who can’t afford to go private. A change definitely needs to happen. I really do feel for those women. I hope my story can help those who are on a similar journey. 

 

 

My name is Natasha and #IamMenopausal.

I was in menopause at 13 years old, I started puberty but didn’t fully develop, I didn’t even start having periods at all. I was feeling hot and sweaty all the time, severe headaches & lack of concentration in school. In fact, when all the others girls where talking about periods I felt very alone and frightened – this was 1989. I told nobody, not even my own mother or best friend, I thought I must of been some sort of freak…

I just kept thinking how awful I was feeling and too ashamed to tell anyone about my symptoms so I planned to go and seek medical help when I left school at 16…

I started work as an apprentice hairdresser and made friendships with all my work colleagues and spent most of my social time with them in the local bar. I had to get a train home but unfortunately something terrible happened to me and I was sexually assaulted near my home… This made my world turn upside down again. I told no one as I was so ashamed. How could I go and seek medical help for my lack of periods and symptoms now as I did not want to be examined?
I hid my secrets from everyone and carried on the best way I could; struggling with severe mental health issues and all I kept thinking was I can’t have a baby, who would want me with all this baggage.

This carried on until I was 25 when I went to Ibiza to work where I met my husband.

He supported me and we did seek help at a fertility clinic where all I had was blood test done which the results showed that I had Premature Ovarian Failure and this would of been at the age of 13. They didn’t offer support, just a form for IVF egg donation. It was shocking. I was put on tablet form of HRT.

We decided there and then that we would adopt which we did in 2006 – two siblings…

At age 30, I became very sore from intercourse with bleeding. We where in and out of the doctors until we where sent to a gynaecologist who specialises in vulva disease and I was diagnosed with lichen planus which would of caused by my premature menopause due to years of lack of estrogen – this was shocking.

Because I got so poorly in 2017 with this disease, it turned out that I had trapped blood in my pelvis. They did not know why and I had an emergency hysterectomy 3 weeks later.

Not long after my hysterectomy, I became poorly again with severe pain in the vagina area; after more MRI scans, it was revealed that I had trapped fluid in the top part of the vagina and the lichen planus had stuck the bottom part of the vagina shut so nothing could drain out. After a multi-disciplinary meeting, it was agreed that I needed a vaginectomy – most of my vagina removed – in which I had a 5 hour operation to remove it. This was horrendous and is only usually performed in cancer patients.

I have just had my fourth operation to divide the fused shut labia skin as the lichen planus has caused severe scarring on my vulva, urinating is difficult and painful as the disease is active around the urethra. I am currently awaiting to make a life decision on a permanent urine diversion in which I’m petrified.

This is all caused from lack of estrogen for so many years, due to Premature Ovarian Insufficiency at age 13.

I’m determined to help other girls and women speak up. If you are struggling or have similar symptoms,  you are not alone. We need to erase the taboo and stigma around the word menopause so no other women will need to suffer….

My name is Cathy and #IamMenopausal.

My name is Cathy and I’m 33. I’ve been menopausal for 20 years this year.

Age 11 I started my period, and it all looked normal. Between age 12/13 I had about a year of non-stop and extremely painful bleeds. It was excruciating actually. This resulted in low blood pressure and feeling faint all the time.

Age 13, I went to the GP to see if there was anything I could be given to alleviate my heavy periods and they prescribed me something (Mefenamic acid), which I took daily. After a few months, the bleeding slowed and eventually stopped. I was thrilled. Then, there was 6 months of no bleed at all. I went back to the GP and they took me off the drug. Nothing happened. 12 months went past and still nothing. They said it was normal for a girl of my age to have erratic periods. By this time, I had started getting hot flushes, poor sleep and pain in my legs.

Age 15 the GP decided to do some investigation. I went for blood tests and ultrasounds. I had so many hot flushes that we thought I had a perpetual fever, but my temperature was normal. I couldn’t understand how it wasn’t hot! I have a clear memory of one of the ultrasounds, where they were looking at my ovaries. They said ‘I can’t see anything’ but don’t worry it’s probably just the machine. After three or four of these, they had to rule out cancer, which luckily it wasn’t. At the last one of these, they said that there was a chance that my fertility might be affected, but that doesn’t happen in children of this age, so it wouldn’t apply to me. This was the first inkling I had that I may not be able to have children and in my heart of hearts I knew it was true. I was referred to a specialist gynecologist in London who put me on the contraceptive pill with no bleeds, in case my hormones were out of balance. I must have been tested for my levels, but none of this was shared with us. IF only this process had been done earlier, we might have been able to save and freeze some of my eggs.

Age 17, after two years of seeing a specialist gynecologist in London, and more tests, I was finally diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Failure  and told that I had no eggs left in my ovaries. My symptoms included terrible night sweats, through the day hot flushes, poorer short term memory, massive mood swings, hair thinning and loss and anxiety. It was too late to save any of my eggs and I was deemed infertile. We tried 21 different types of hormone treatment to at least stem the hot flushes and eventually we went with a contraceptive pill – Mercilon, as it was free and did a ‘good enough’ job at replacing some of my lost oestrogen/some of the hot flushes. It was like a plaster over a gaping wound.

After this I received no more help. No check ups, no counselling or help with the mental distress of going through the menopause as a teenager and the long term fact that I would not be able to have children. I had a variety of issues after that, and booked myself in for appointments to do my own check ups (probably once every 3 years or so). The gynecologist had recommended HRT, but I was super poor (trying to work in the arts) and couldn’t see the benefit of having to fork out for a double NHS prescription every month. I continued on the contraceptive pill for free. He had also told me about the Daisy Network for support. Unfortunately, this was also paid. At the time I think it was a yearly subscription of £100, I just didn’t have the money and also, I really felt strongly that I shouldn’t have to pay for help, for something like this. So I didn’t.

I am now 33, I still get all the menopausal symptoms and have really struggled with my weight and mental health. My lovely understanding husband and I have now been talking about egg donation, and had been making progress just before the pandemic started at UCLH, where I was finally put on HRT…then we had the pandemic, and the national shortage of HRT. Having no access to oestrogen patches, I tried everything available for months, but my quality of life was so bad that I couldn’t work, and became suicidal again. We also couldn’t afford the multiple HRT prescription costs in England each month and left for Scotland where I can get it for free. We work in the arts and nonprofit sectors where pay is extremely low.

The many years of little to no oestrogen or check ups has me worried about the future, for myself, but also for others who could avoid diseases and pain in later life through being educated about the benefits of HRT and the effect of the menopause on women. I wish that we could be taken more seriously by specialists who hold biases on their perception of the menopause and help available. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told to do the wrong thing or prescribed incorrect medication for my symptoms…

I am so pleased that people are now speaking out about POI and the menopause, and have hope that we might find more solutions for this next generation experiencing these horrific, life altering symptoms.

 

My name is Lesley and #IamMenopausal.

My menopause story started in 2010 when firstly I had a chemical menopause via Zoladex to see if a hysterectomy would give me any pain relief from endometriosis and adenomyosis that I had been dealing with for 27 years.  The following year at 39 I then had a full hysterectomy.

My employer was not sympathetic towards any of this and put me on disciplinary. They told me I needed to get back up to speed in my role and have mind over matter.  Thankfully with the help of my union and solicitors I managed to get redundancy and moved to a different company.  A few months after my surgery, I developed severe anxiety and panic attacks and also heart palpitations as I was not absorbing patches well.  It was crippling. I tried to hide it from family and friends as I did not want them to think I wasn’t coping. It came to a head when I had a huge attack in the night and my husband became aware of how bad I was feeling he made me go back to my consultant who immediately gave me HRT implants which helped me massively also alongside acupuncture.

I didn’t discuss how I was trying to cope in my new role as no-one spoke about it and I didn’t want to be seen as not being capable so it felt a lonely road.  Over the following years, I actively went to every menopause seminar or conference I could possibly attend to educate myself on treatments and also on how to get support.  I found talking to others who had been through similar a massive help.  I also took part in RCOG patient groups.

In 2017 I moved to work for a major bank where an article in 2018 by one of the top HR directors on menopause caught my eye in an internal newsletter.  I contacted her and told her my story.  She decided to create a women’s health group to cover all aspects of reproductive health and asked me if I would work on the menopause section with colleagues who had similar experiences.  In 2019 we ran the first menopause day with my consultant and an outside menopause adviser assisting us.  I have helped to create support groups, we have done a 2-page document for colleagues and managers as part of mandatory training with advice and info on how to get support, we have created a new menopause intranet site and during October 2021 ran approximately 20 events we have plans for many more!

I am passionate about empowering women to research and ask questions and make informed decisions on their care from a system that is currently not working particularly in the NHS.  My experience has made me stronger and wiser and whatever I can do to keep getting the message out there I will!  I would like to share my story as surgical menopause is tough and is not understood by most GPs or employers, I’d like to help reverse that!

My name is Ali, I’m 54 and #IamMenopausal.

I’ve been going through the menopause for 4 years but was peri-menopausal a couple of years before.  When I started experiencing peri symptoms, I spoke to my gynaecologist about it.  He(!) said not to take HRT and to take sage or black cohosh to help with the symptoms.  A couple of years later when my symptoms increased, the brain fog and hot flushes being the worst, I saw a female gynaecologist, who started me on HRT.  However, my symptoms didn’t improve, and I then discovered I had an underactive thyroid, and I was put on synthetic HRT by an endocrinologist, along with medication for my thyroid.  I also went for a regular mammogram and the consultant (a man!) told me to only stay on HRT for 2 years. 

Through my own research I read that the HRT I was on wasn’t good if there was heart conditions in the family (no one had asked me these questions) but both my dad and sister died of heart attacks at 49 and 42.  The doctor also hadn’t explained this to me or to only take the Ustrogestan tablets at night, due to the mild sedative (no wonder I continuously felt tired).  I then started reading articles about Dr Louise Newson, listening to podcasts and downloaded the balance app.  This spurred me to visit my doctor to get some blood tests but didn’t get any phone call to say that there was anything amiss.  By chance I went on the NHS app a few months later and read my results and noticed my cholesterol was quite high, so checked my blood pressure which was also dangerously high. 

Before seeing my cardiologist because of these symptoms, I luckily had a consultation with one of the nurses at a menopause clinic who completely changed my life.  She changed the HRT medication onto the plant-based gel, as this in fact can help to lower blood pressure and she explained that I needed to take the Ustrogestan (because of the sedative) at night, she also gave me some testosterone cream.  I went to see my cardiologist who automatically wanted to put me on blood pressure tablets, but I refused and said I wanted to give the new HRT a chance to see if my symptoms changed and they have.  Worryingly, he didn’t have a clue that certain HRT’s would have an effect on my blood pressure or cholesterol.  Thankfully, my blood pressure has come down significantly and my cholesterol is now in the normal range. We trust the medical professionals to give us the best advice but it’s a concern that so many are ill informed of the benefits of HRT.

It’s taken me a long time to get it right, but it’s so nice to feel like me again! 

My name is Keri and #IamMenopausal.

I’m 43 and my menopause began aged 38 after treatment for breast cancer.

I don’t have any children and though I had already decided against having any, having the choice removed altogether was a big deal. Once I had processed that part of my situation, I faced menopause as just another stage of my life. I wasn’t expecting the symptoms of menopause to be anything more than the hot flushes that I experienced early on, but over the years I’ve experienced a myriad of symptoms – almost all of the ones I’ve found listed online.

I think the worst for me (and the one I’m still most embarrassed about sharing) was the loss of my libido. I had always been very active in that department and the loss was a huge shock. I didn’t feel like myself anymore and it seemed to happen all of a sudden. Thinking back, it actually happened over the space of a year but because I was between partners, I didn’t notice until I met my new boyfriend. I’m lucky that he’s been so patient and understanding. I feel bad that we didn’t get the honeymoon stage that most new relationships go through (where you can’t keep your hands off each other) but I think that’s helped us to have a much better, much more fulfilling relationship than any of my past relationships. I’m hopeful that my appointment with a Menopause Clinic will help find some suitable treatment for this and all my other symptoms despite the risk related to the breast cancer. Then he won’t know what’s hit him.

Even as I type this, I’m internally cringing at the thought of people that know us seeing it and knowing something so personal but I think it’s important that we raise awareness. We have to start somewhere so why not with me? If you are feeling this way or if your partner suddenly seems to have gone off “it”, it may be due to menopause and doesn’t have to mean the end of your relationship. You’re not alone. Reach out and seek support. There’s more out there than you realise.

My name is Avril and #IamMenopausal.

I am 38 and started medical induced menopause in March 2020 after having a full hysterectomy caused by Endometriosis and Adenomyosis.

The last 2 years have been a struggle, especially with the symptoms, and to find the correct remedy for me to cope along trying the various different forms of remedies and HRT.

Finding support has been difficult as well but the balance app has gave me a form of support knowing I can access information when I need it.

My name is Sophie and #IamMenopausal.

At 44 I started to be very irritable and hot at night, I couldn’t sleep for the first time in my life. I felt extremely depressed, and that my life was not worth living. I also became forgetful at work and got into spectacular rages.

I searched and found information through Dr Newson’s podcast, the balance website and now the app.

HRT has been a life saver for me. It needs adjustments? Yes. Personalisation? Yes again.

But I am me again. Changed but feeling good.

 

My name is Rachel and #IamMenopausal.

7 years ago I was diagnosed with arthritis of my knees. This was a devastating blow to me because I loved running, I completed loads of half marathons, enjoyed the training so much, I also loved HIIT training, boxercise and walking. I didn’t let this diagnosis put me off though, but I soon released it was having an impact on my body doing all these sports. I was only 43yrs old and was finding it hard to get support because all the medics said you’re young you’ll be fine. I had flare up after flare up on my knees, the pain was excruciating, I never ever lost a days work with it but I was pumped up on painkillers and would mostly cry on the way home from every shift. At the time I worked 12 1/2hr shifts at a hospice, and was constantly on my feet. I’m a big believer of there’s always someone worse off than me, I don’t know how I did – but I managed. I learnt to live with chronic pain daily for 7 years! I just had to cut out all the things I enjoyed, it was becoming impossible to do. I just went on walks when I could but I always knew I’d get a flare up after. I had physio, my knee aspirated (the worse pain) appointment after appointment, X-rays, MRI’s, and was still always met with the same outcome, you’re young you’ll manage.

4 years ago something else was happening to my body. I couldn’t sleep, I was lethargic all the time, low in mood, just physically and mentally exhausted. I put all this down to my arthritis and allowed that to mask what was really going on, but still went to the doctors for bloods. I knew, I just knew I was going through the menopause. Guess what I was greeted with, you’re too young, ride it out for a few more years. I was at my wits end. Nobody was helping – I was, and felt, a wreck.

In May 2021 the menopause hit me like a train, I was so so sad, exhausted again, in pain, complete brain fog and an emotional wreck. I could not honestly go 1 whole hour without breaking down and feeling I just want this to end but couldn’t see a way out. My body shape completely changed, I was constantly bloated. I approached my doctors expecting to get greeted with a brick wall but no, they were brilliant. Despite my healthy lifestyle they knew I needed a bit more help, so I was put on HRT, had to wait 3 months for it to kick in. I’m thrilled to say I’m lucky enough that HRT is for me, it’s been amazing, fantastic and life changing for me.

Fast forward to February 2022, for the past month or so I’ve not felt fab. I’ve put life’s troubles and hectic work patterns as the reasons behind this, but truth be told I just knew it’s my menopause. Despite being on HRT my symptoms have started creeping up on me, did I need a higher dosage?

I called the doctors, well what an experience that was, bearing in mind when I first contacted them some time back they were SO helpful and understanding, I called them expecting the same welcome! How wrong I was. I spoke, I say spoke – I was talked at by a doctor, who didn’t ask my symptoms, didn’t ask what was wrong, didn’t ask how I was, didn’t even ask my name when he called back. He said “I’ve read the nurses notes and you want a higher dose well you can’t on the HRT you are on so it would mean you having a different one and a tablet too on the 15th day” (of what I didn’t have a clue). He then went on and said “you’ll get cancer of the womb if you get any higher on your dose, I’ll fit you a coil”. I was flabbergasted, annoyed and so upset. Why do I want a coil I haven’t spoke to you about a coil, he didn’t really acknowledge that,  he didn’t ask if I was still having periods either. Anyhow I closed the call saying just issue the new prescription and I’ll read the instructions myself. I slept on it, reflected and decided to call the surgery back. The conversation was one way only, he didn’t ask my symptoms, didn’t ask for my BP. I run a menopause support group on FB giving advice and guidance so I took my own….. I shouldn’t have to feel this way and it’s help I need, not to be talked at and dismissed. The receptionist I spoke to was AMAZING. She logged a complaint for me and got another doctor to call me back.

The second doctor asked straightaway “what’s up what can I do for you”. I told him how I was feeling and he said “the HRT you are on doesn’t come in a higher dose so I can change it to a different patch and because it’s high I’ll prescribe a tablet too that you will need to take on the last day of your period, this will protect your womb, if you don’t want the tablet I can insert the Mirena coil which will do the same thing”. Why wasn’t this explained before! So I’ve picked up my new patch and started 2 weeks ago, let’s see how it goes.

In short, you know when something’s not right and you aren’t happy. Speak to someone else who can help. This is MY menopause, I own it, everyone is so different and will go through it differently so it needs to be treated individually.

I’m 50 in March, I’m starting to feel fabulous despite going through almost 10 years of not feeling so fabulous but I’m focusing on the goodness around me, the fact people are talking about menopause more is amazing. Keep talking and keep supporting!

My name is Lea and #IamMenopausal.

I am 51 and up until recently, I had been struggling with a range of peri-menopausal symptoms and still am but to a much lesser degree thankfully. The problem I had was that I didn’t know they were all linked, I hadn’t joined the dots and neither had my doctor. I was struggling with work, driving, confidence, then I was made redundant, then diagnosed with stress and anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, eczema and was told I could loose some of my teeth due to receding gums. I was progressively getting into a worse state and feeling like my entire life was just out of control, heart palpitations, sweats, sleepless nights, aches, headaches you name it! I had been applying Oestrogel for some time, doing yoga and going for daily walks, but I tactually thought, what I’ve now heard so many times in so many women’s stories, that I was either going mad or had the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Luckily, my sister asked if I’d heard about Dr Louise Newson when we were out for brunch and chatting about the subject. Eager to find out as much as I could, I downloaded her podcast and worked my way from the first one right up to date and I haven’t looked back since. I use the balance app to track my symptoms each day and after a chat with my doctor I have increased my Oestrogel and am now taking micronised progesterone too. The next step is to hopefully start on testosterone to get me back in tip top form. To say this information and the balance app has been a life-saver is an understatement.

My name is Leanne and #IamMenopausal.

I first noticed something wasn’t quite right when I was around 39 (I’m now 41). I had always been quite positive and confident and have always prided myself on being a high performer at work. I started to feel like I was forgetting things, that I wasn’t ‘on it’ anymore and that I was not capable of doing my job. I started to experience anxiousness for the first time, my skin was really bad, I was having difficulty sleeping and finding it much harder in maintaining my weight, which made me self-conscious. I didn’t feel good and I just wasn’t myself but I couldn’t put my finger on the cause. Like many of us I was juggling family life, COVID, and the pressures of work, so I put it down to that but gradually these changes chipped away at my self esteem and confidence.

However, after finding Louise’s Instagram page and the balance app I started to educate myself and research my symptoms more. After a number of failed attempts at my GP and being dismissed for being too young, I was finally heard after I went armed with the information from Louise and I was prescribed HRT which after a few weeks absolutely transformed my low moods and anxiousness. I am still experiencing heavy periods and I am awaiting a date for a hysterectomy but I am definitely starting to feel like me again! I’m now passionate to share my story in the hope that it helps spread the message to other women who are suffering.

My name is Bunty and #IamMenopausal.

I started the menopause in my early fifties and the main symptom was hot flushes. These were quite severe. I was lucky enough to have an excellent woman doctor my own age who immediately gave me HRT. When I moved house at sixty, I had to change doctors and the male doctor I then had was very reluctant to prescribe HRT. I insisted and he gave in provided. I signed a document saying it was my responsibility and he had explained all the possible side effects to me. A few years later he retired and I then joined a practice with several doctors who were all very resistant to HRT and I had to be very persistent to continue to get it. I changed practices again and found reluctance again until the advent of COVID when they obviously decided there were worse problems and now renew my prescription every six months with no problem! I believe it helped me heal faster when I broke my ankle 10 years ago as I have remained very mobile. A great friend, who was met with categorical refusal to be prescribed HRT, believes she has had assorted problems and not felt totally fit since she stopped taking it. I have no regrets and wish this was more widely available. I will continue to take it for many years to come.

My name is Kavita and #IamMenopausal.

My journey of awareness regarding my own health began when my mom was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. I couldn’t understand how a person who was largely vegetarian, a non-drinker, non-smoker, and with no family history of Alzheimer’s could be symptomatic in her mid-50’s. I was sad for her and very scared for myself. This put me on the path of understanding brain health and how it affects women.   Regardless of all the healthy changes I made, as a result of my research, in my diet (eliminating processed and inflammatory foods), and how much I exercised, I suddenly felt like I had no control of what was happening to my mind and body as I approached and entered my 40’s. The changes in my weight were first. A steady increase with each passing year that I couldn’t control regardless of my usual diet and exercise. My hair began to thin, I am noticeably irritable and feel anxiety and panicky feelings in otherwise normal scenarios, and my body feels tight and sore.

The correlation between various chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s, fibromyalgia and even long Covid symptoms, and the hormonal imbalances that women experience is now not lost on me. I have just begun bioidentical HRT and am excited to reverse some of these symptoms and feel like myself again. I wish I had known all of this when my mom first began exhibiting symptoms. Perhaps addressing her hormonal health might have helped. But, her illness, if nothing else, opened my eyes to my own health and mental well-being and I hope by talking about it more, it will encourage so many other women to do the same.

My name is Kate and #IamMenopausal.

In 2020 COVID-19 and the world going into lockdown shook so many peoples lives. We were all coping to find the ‘new normal’ and unaware of how much our collective life experience would change. I was a wife and working mother of two pre-school boys, having just returned after maternity leave to a high powered demanding job. Juggling everything in my life at that time was overwhelming but little did I know it would become even more challenging.

2020 was the start of my roller coaster. I had been diagnosed with a thyroid condition over ten years prior, my thyroid hormone levels were again in flux and I felt sluggish and was gaining weight. In the spring, I started to notice the pigmentation on my hands, face and chest changing and was diagnosed with Vitiligo. I was changing both physiologically and physically as well. I was also emotionally all over the place whilst trying to keep it together for my family and be strong through a difficult year.

2021 was the start of my decline. The last lockdown in January were some of the toughest months of my life. Work demands were on the rise, the weather was cold and snowy and we had two small children running wild in our house whilst my husband and I tried to work. I started to experience extreme bouts of insomnia and night sweats. 

My concentration levels dipped and I was exhausted all the time. In the spring, whilst in the middle of a virtual pitch to a client, I experienced a debilitating panic attack, having never experienced one in my life. I thought I was having a heart attack. Fast forward to the fall, the panic attacks and extreme anxiety were frequent, I’d started a new job and two weeks in I experienced what I thought was a complete and total nervous breakdown. I was crying uncontrollably, anxiety so severe I couldn’t leave the house and I was suicidal. I couldn’t face the new job and decided to give up my career of over 20 years to focus on my health and recovery. It was one of the hardest decisions of my life, I loved my career and had worked so hard to get where I was. I was prescribed anti-depressants by my GP but deep down I knew that I was not depressed or anxious. I’d always been a happy, driven and super positive person, I was diminished to a depressed, anxious and shadow of my former self in what seemed like over night. I was a totally different person. My confidence was shattered, I was scared and thought I needed to be committed to a mental hospital. I couldn’t sleep, eat and spent days crying. My family and friends were concerned and my poor children just kept saying, ‘hope you feel better mummy’. It was heart breaking and I felt incredibly alone and lost. 

 

I spent three months, scouring the internet and reading books for answers. I joined The Balance App and started to read some of the stories and realised that all these women were me. I was not alone and I’d been found. I was decidedly peri-menopausal not suicidal! I worked closely with my GP and started HRT in February of this year. I’ve started to feel better but am on the long road of getting my hormones levels right. I’m still in disbelief that this could happen to me and didn’t think at 43 that I would be starting my menopause journey. I’ve been very open with friends and family about my story and what I’m going through. My life has now changed for the better and I desperately don’t want other families (because its women, men and children that are effected by this) to suffer like we did. I’m so happy that this issue is out in the open, we need to ignore the challenges of patriarchy and seek action to help woman everywhere!

 

My name is Soraya and #IamMenopausal.

I am 55 years old. I had a premature menopause at 39 and sustained osteoporosis due to not taking HRT as I was unaware of it and my GP at the time didn’t recommend it. I have researched early menopause and its effects and I’m now using HRT which has helped my bone density as well as my overall health. 

I am a registered midwife and specialist public health nurse in the NHS. Before taking HRT I considered leaving my job as I suffered from 34 symptoms of the menopause. I was often referred to other specialists, for example, an incontinence clinic, rheumatology, and even offered antidepressants for symptoms of depression instead of being offered HRT from the start. My menopause research has bought me to Dr Newson and the balance app and I recommend it to all of the women I come into contact with.  I am grateful to have three adult children and speak openly to them about the menopause in order to share information. I see this as being especially important as I have a daughter who will no doubt be going on this journey in the future. With 51% of the population being female, the menopause should be talked about and supported in education, health and employment. HRT has allowed me to stay working in the job I love well into my 50’s and hopefully into my 60’s too.

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We must give everyone the support, confidence and momentum to live life on their own terms. We’re the allies of unstoppable menopause sufferers everywhere. Embracing life together, with confidence and self-belief. Together, we will empower and break taboos of the menopause.

If you’d like to feature in our #IamMenopausal campaign, all we need is a headshot, a short overview of yourself and your menopause story!

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