Many women don’t talk about menopause because so many symptoms are linked to shame, much like periods and many other parts of a woman’s life. Symptoms creep up on you and it’s so hard to nail down until you are completely depleted. Before you know it, they have taken over and are destroying relationships and your professional life. I want to share what worked for me.
If you have diabetes and heart disease in your family, you are aware, manage it and put it on medical records. But we don’t do that for things like menopause because of shame. I was 39 when symptoms began and I have been dealing with fatigue, excess weight gain, brain fog, lack of energy and low libido over the last five years.
I have no idea if my early perimenopause was linked to genetics, as my family never talks about these things. It is very debilitating and stressful not knowing what is happening to your body and mind during menopause. I have a 10-year-old daughter and when she’s in her 20s, I will make sure I tell her to watch out for it!
The struggle for solutions
Every woman goes through menopause and it’s a natural aging process, but it felt like my GP was untrained to recognize any of the symptoms. I couldn’t cope and was struggling to have a successful career but it was hard to get answers from my GP in the 10 minutes slot given. Read more about the stages of menopause.
The only reason I found out my issues were related to menopause was because my husband’s workplace had generous private health care, which allowed me to go and see as many consultants and have as many tests as I liked. Yet, I went to see one doctor who told me “This is part of life and you just have to learn to live with it.”
I told him to get lost, as I am not paying £300 an hour to be told to put up with it. I want solutions and for someone to tell me what’s wrong.”
The next doctor I saw was the head of gynaecology at a London NHS hospital and he said: “You need HRT. You will be fine.” His attitude and help made a big difference to my life.
Treatment that worked
He prescribed oestrogen patches and I had a testosterone implant under my rib for a couple of years, put in under local anaesthetic. Now I have testosterone in a gel form that goes on my thigh, as it’s much easier and I get it as an NHS prescription.
Both treatments work in tandem to help me concentrate more and I’ve lost the indecisiveness that comes with brain fog. When I use testosterone regularly, I have proper energy and can get things done. If I miss it for a few days, my energy levels really plummet. Read more about the HRT debate.
The impact on libido
Testosterone also improved my libido. When men go to the doctors about libido, they get Viagra. When women go, there is no female Viagra. It’s like no one understands the impact and importance of not wanting sex for three years and trying to explain to your partner that they still need to have a good relationship with you. You feel you are letting them down and worry they think you are bloody bonkers – they might be right! Read more about how to build a bridge to emotional and sexual intimacy.
Women are worthy of having a sex life and we need it to be seen as a normal human body function. After all, you would go to the doctor if you had a sudden loss of appetite as it indicates an underlying problem. Testosterone costs just the price of an NHS prescription and that’s all it is for me to have a decent quality of life. ”
I’m a different person now. I will take whatever medication I need to get my life in order and have a personal trainer three times a week. I have tried acupuncture and it works for me. These practices are now essential for my survival! I’ve learned you’ve got to be selfish and if there is a problem, throw whatever money you can afford at it.
It’s time to stop undermining myself
I am 15 years behind in my career in terms of growth because of childcare and not being able to operate at my best. My daughter was young when I started having menopausal symptoms and it was a horrible time. I lost jobs, couldn’t keep jobs and felt pulled between home and work while symptoms meant I was operating at just 40% capacity.
We lose our self-esteem through the whole process of menopause and need to stop undermining ourselves, as everyone else is doing a good enough job of that. No more underselling and compromising on ambition, as I’d rather have my ambition than anything else!”
It’s important to have an engaging life and I am going to continue with my lovely doctors, spending some money on myself and let my life run on my own steam. I am not going to let other people decide how far I can go! Running a triathlon and getting promoted to C-level is not the only definition of success or being a hero. A hero is someone who can deal with their own life and still continue to put each foot in front of the other every day. That’s a real hero.
Read more about menopause on our blog.