World Menopause Day 2023 - My Menopause Journey
Menopause affects around 51% of the population, and any opportunity to raise awareness and understanding is a great thing.
This World Menopause Day, we spoke to Catherine, a Menopause Champion working with colleagues experiencing symptoms of menopause or those keen to support relevant people in their lives. She shares her own story and experiences.
I’m embarrassed to admit that if someone had asked me about menopause two years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to tell them very much. In fact, it would have been fair to say that I was completely ignorant of the topic, with my knowledge only stretching as far as it involves hot sweats, your periods end, and it only happens to old women. I certainly didn’t think I had to worry about it at 47, I was far too young for all that nonsense.
Oh dear, was I in for a shock!
When I think about it now, with my newfound knowledge of all things menopause, I realise I had probably been experiencing perimenopause symptoms for a long time prior to what I am going to call ‘my awakening’. I just hadn't realised it.
I put my slight anxiety, tiredness, aching joints, and hair loss down to getting older and having a busy life.
The main symptom that presented itself to me, or certainly the one that forced me to seek some help, was anxiety. When I first started to suffer from it, I had no idea what the cause was, as there was no obvious reason. In the early stages, it seemed to come and go, I later learned this was due to it being linked to my monthly cycle. I would be totally fine one minute and then the next I would be having panic attacks, crying, or being so consumed by worry that I couldn’t function. I now know that during perimenopause your oestrogen levels vary, and it’s when your levels are low that you are more likely to experience menopausal symptoms.
I was lucky because, by sheer coincidence, around the same time as I was experiencing all this stuff, I got an email advertising a program about menopause. I read it through, and I am truly thankful I did because it was from that I was able to understand some of what was going on with me!
I did a lot more research on menopause following this. It was a huge help, and it meant that when I went to see the GP, I was well-informed and able to discuss my symptoms and the treatment I thought was best.
It took a few trips to the doctors to get it right, but I was prescribed Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), which has really helped. Then I applied for my HRT Prescription Prepayment Certificate (HRT PPC) to save some money. I’ve also been doing several other things that I believe have been equally as beneficial such as meditation, mindfulness, yoga, connecting with family, friends, and colleagues, researching lots about anxiety and depression, and becoming a Menopause Champion.
Have I succeeded in removing all anxiety from my life? Of course not - but I am better prepared for it with a number of resources in my toolbox.
With celebrities sharing their own personal stories, documentaries about menopause and representation in Parliament, the conversations continue.
I work in a Henpicked Menopause Friendly workplace, and having that understanding makes a big difference. Henpicked is also a good place to go for more information on managing menopause.
To save money on prescription costs and buy your own HRT PPC, visit: https://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/help-nhs-prescription-costs/nhs-hormone-replacement-therapy-prescription-prepayment-certificate-hrt-ppc