16 November 2019
Accepting that I have started my journey to menopause is scary despite the fact I am fortunate to know where to get some of the best advice around.
My work as a business mentor has led me to be around people who are experts in this field so unlike many women, I am fortunate to know where I can be given and signposted to informed advice and peer support. These are people like Dr Catriona Anderson who are making it their life’s work to specialise in areas such as women’s health and urinary tract infections, both areas which tend to be lacking in the general healthcare service provision in the UK.
As for the peer support, I have been introduced and welcomed into the community of MenoSisters through MenoHealth, a service for menopausal women who I blogged about earlier this week.
MenoHealth, was founded by Julie Robinson and run along with Co-Director Beth Rees and their MenoLeaders. The MenoClass they have developed is attracting menopausal women to join their community across the UK. For my full blog please click here.
So why does it all remain so scary? What I am fearful about it that I will have to make some decisions which may mean messing around with my hormone balance in some way. I know that perimenopause is already ‘messing around with my hormones’ but the thought of introducing something by choice is a hard decision to make.
I am not alone in having experienced a medical condition which may or may not affect whether I can take hormone therapies. However, I didn’t have an illness which the pharmaceutical companies or medical specialists will state as a contraindication of HRT. If you have experienced a DVT (deep vein thrombosis), a heart condition, cancer or diabetes, for example, your GP or specialist will either tell you whether are unsuitable to take therapy or if you need to weigh up the risks of not taking the therapy. How do you even begin to do that? I am in this category. I had a huge benign liver tumour which my surgeon told me probably grew due to hormones, but it was never categorically confirmed. Will any medical expert would be able to confidently tell me whether HRT is a suitable option for me or not? Am I particularly sensitive to hormones or did I do anything else to grow my liver haemangioma which resulted in it having to be removed with the remainder of my right lobe of liver? How do I determine if hormone therapy is safe or do I stick with symptoms I am beginning to experience and take the risk of further symptoms and osteoporosis downstream? It’s a confusing time and it is a discussion I need to include my husband in given he had to experience my being unwell and fearing the worst throughout those months in 2009. He told me this morning to ‘keep him in the loop’.
My body shape is changing, my skin has changed, my periods are more erratic and heavy, and I regularly feel I am on the edge of getting a urinary tract infection and when I do it lingers. I have a stash of KY jelly and now appreciate why those cringe-worthy late-night TV adverts about vaginal dryness are aired. Ironically, when I joined the MenoClass this week, I introduced myself as someone who was not menopausal, but crikey, on having my awareness raised and just listing my symptoms here, how many more signs do I need that I have started my journey!?!
This is not the usual personal blog that I share but unless we start getting honest about how we feel and how our bodies and minds are changing with our partners and peers, we have no option other than to feel isolated. I do not want that for myself or other women.
Some women appear to skip through menopause without awareness of any problems, and I myself may not experience anything more debilitating than my current list. So lucky them! Some women go through early menopause following hysterectomies and others, just because they do. We cannot and must not judge others on our own experience, or that experienced by our mothers, our sisters or our friends. But we must learn by talking to them. Each journey will be different and each combination of symptoms will be unique. As family, employers and colleagues we have a responsibility to educate ourselves too.
My intention is to share occasional weekend blogs about my menopausal journey as and when I have something to reflect on. I would like to encourage more of us to be better informed and speak out about our experiences.
I have lots of unanswered questions so I’ll be looking to understand these over the coming weeks.