An Early Menopause Journey

It’s been a while since we have updated our blog and what better way to kick-start it again than with a guest post written by Lorna @perimenopost. Lorna has endured a turbulent rollercoaster ride, experiencing early menopause at just 35, receiving difficult-to-hear medical advice and encountering feelings of isolation. All opinions and experiences are her own. Thank you so much Lorna for being so vulnerable and sharing your story with our readers. H&M x

Hello Hot and Moody Menos!!

Feeling very honoured to be asked to write a blog for the lovely Claire and Annette – A.K.A The HotandMoody girls. They ooze super uber meno coolness and bring a much needed sense of humour with a friendly manner. We are very lucky to count on them as #MenoMates!!

We have all been caught up in the hazy, crazy “menopause frenzy” this year and what a wave it has been! It’s been great and empowering to make new friends, learning about and sharing one another’s experiences whilst helping to raise much needed awareness surrounding menopause.

The girls at HotandMoody have the right balance with their informative, wicked sense of humour and at all times honest and frank accounts of their own personal journeys. The Hot and Moody podcasts immediately draw you into the kitchen with Claire and Annette and you feel you are joining in with them with a cuppa too, we love the podcasts at PeriMenoPost; keep them coming, Ladies.

The PeriMenoPost story really began with my own personal journey, having absolutely no idea that I was in fact in perimenopause and heading towards an early menopause around the age of 35 years old. (average age of menopause 51 years). There was no mention of premature ovarian insufficiency, perimenopause or early menopause, also it had never even occurred to me as I had no awareness of those three words; POI – Early Menopause – Perimenopause, let alone the symptoms. Let’s hope that this has now changed for women,
with more awareness raised this year.

They say that life begins at 40? Or does it?

Have you noticed your life change for the better during this age?
The forties have been one incredibly long journey with hormones! Can you relate to this?
Were you aware that during the time of perimenopause, periods may become heavier and they may also come closer together, a bit like a bus, every two weeks!

On one of my many visits to the gynaecologist, when I asked about why my periods were becoming closer together and why I was feeling that I was forever on my period, I was advised that a hysterectomy would be the only solution to help me manage this problem.

There was no mention that I would be immediately thrust into a forced menopause, if I decided to go ahead. Now, on reflection, that was a shocking treatment suggestion.

You just know your own body and this did not feel right, I was not ready for this, at my age and at this time. I always thought that a hysterectomy was for much older ladies This is what I had been led to believe. That feeling of loss and frustration when leaving that appointment will always stay with me.

A hysterectomy felt so drastic, I knew that this was an incredibly life-changing procedure to have at the age of 35 years with four very young children to look after. Why was this happening to me?

My perimenopause symptoms reached their worst point around 6 months before my 40th birthday, unaware that I was having symptoms with heavy bleeding that would not stop. It was a
terrifying time, with scenes that mirrored a horror movie (this is the only way to describe that time).
And so began, the long journey f many doctor/consultant appointments with scans, tests, x-rays and procedures all making me feel that something could be seriously wrong with me.

Sounding familiar to many of you? Still nobody mentioned those three words. POI – Early menopause and perimenopause.

My GP, during this time, was very unhelpful. When you visit your doctor, you put your all your trust in them. Especially when you know there is something not quite right with how you’re feeling; the words “you are too young for menopause” will stay with me forever, as I was in fact encountering perimenopause symptoms.

To be told to “keep a diary and to try alternative remedies” (all of which I had tried) was not only deflating, unsupportive but incredibly upsetting and insensitive. You need support and empathy. I now know that what I really needed was the correct form of HRT treatment.

Changing my GP was possibly the best decision I have made, as I then received the correct form of care and treatment. It took a convoluted way to get there but I started the long road of trial and error with HRT treatments, funding myself privately and with great help from consultants. Pretty much soon after starting HRT, I felt so much better. In fact it took just day. It was only when the HRT was working and the symptoms disappeared that I then understood how awful I had been feeling and how much my quality of life had been affected.

It seems to be a common theme, that women have no option but to fund treatment privately after initially seeking help from their own GP. Women are then forced into a position to pay for menopause treatment.

It is with thanks to the likes of campaigner and meno-hero, Diane Danzebrink, we know that GPs are not all menopause trained, have very low funding and, depending on local health services, this can have a real impact on your menopausal journey. This I now know!

POI , Early Menopause and Perimenopause needs to be talked about more. It needs to be embraced and accepted. Everyone needs to be aware of the potential and varied symptoms and how to support someone going through this time.

It is a very challenging time when your body is changing, when you are busy running a home, a career, looking after children, teenagers, partners and elderly parents.

The perimenopause can creep up on you, so it is important to look after your emotional wellbeing as well as your physical health. It can be a rocky road. Be prepared and
look after yourself and make use of the information now available to help you along your journey.

Liken it to when your periods start, there is no alarm bell ringing to warn you and there is most certainly no peer pressure with menopause! No one speaks about it at all,
Fingers crossed that this mindset has now changed and women will feel empowered and supported through recent menopause coverage on National TV, press and social media.

PeriMenoPost was my vision to help and support other women entering early, perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause; to provide others with a resource, a support group and advice on seeking out medical or alternative treatments to be a place where others could feel included, accepted and part of a group which offered comfort and empowerment.

My own personal experience during early menopause was very lonely and sometimes frightening. As I had no idea what was happening to me, I chose to spread the word to enable other women to not have to go through the experiences that I had endured.

What a journey it has been!

Helpful links:
POI – Premature Ovarian Insufficiency
Early menopause and Perimenopause
If you enjoyed reading this blog why not give PeriMenoPost a follow on social media
Twitter @PeriMenoPost
Instagram @ Perimenopost
Facebook @PerimenoPost
Keep talking menopause and support our campaign #UndoTheMenoTaboo

Thanks for reading
Lorna x

My red patent leather shoes.

I remember being 4 years old at a wedding reception feeling like a ladybird surrounded by giant, cheek pinching hands, ready to ruin my wings, and my mum saying that she needed to speak to someone but to stay right where I was, she’d “be right back”. There was a terrifying crushing in my chest that felt like a bad tummy ache; I fixed my eyes on my wonky reflection in my red patent leather shoes; my chin started to wobble. I had never had such an intense feeling before and never wanted to feel it again. It strangely disappeared when the familiar smell of my mum’s Estee Lauder Youth Dew wafted towards me and I was engulfed in a wave of relief. That sensation came back to me intermittently over the years as it would for any reserved individual, and it would leave me as it came, maybe not as rapidly each time, but the welcome hug of comfort would still be experienced at some point.

That same sensation came to me day, after day, after day, after day when I hit 45 and there wasn’t a whiff of Estee Lauder Youth Dew that would resolve it. Absolutely nothing would resolve it. Its shadow lurked in every corner, successfully wrapping its darkness around my throat; throwing its weight against my chest. Unbeknownst to me at the time, that feeling was anxiety and I was intensely experiencing one of the most common symptoms of perimenopause.

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Where do you hide your tampon?

In my pocket, up my sleeve, tucked in my waist band, even down my knicker line or in my bra are places that I have hidden a tampon in the past so that watching eyes didn’t know why I was going to the toilet! I’d nonchalantly stroll past the faces of those who probably wouldn’t have noticed anyway “nothing to see here, I’m absolutely not bleeding from my nether regions!”

I grew up in an age when periods were talked about in hushed tones and even then it was because you’d forgotten to bring a pad or a tampon and you had to ask a friend the mortifying question “do you have a spare tampon or pad?”  You never talked to friends about your periods. I mean yuck, why you would want to highlight the fact that several days a month, if the miracle egg that we have inside us is not fertilised, then the womb needs to shed its lining ready for the next egg release and that lining exits as blood via the vagina? Disgusting eh? Well that’s the thing, it’s not is it; it’s the awe-inspiring beauty of Mother Nature, yet society has encouraged girls to feel shame about this magnificence and boys to feel confusion or disgust through lack of education and therefore ignorance.

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Wot no menopause?

“Smith, stop shoving that…urm.. that..urm.. cotton wool up Scotson’s nose and pay attention will you!” was the kind of thing you’d hear during a sex education day at a mixed comprehensive high school in the 1980s. Smith would have nicked a packet of free Tampax given to the girls, exclaimed “ooh look a mouse!” and then would have proceeded to use his new toy to taunt the class swot in order to show his male prowess to the disinterested girls.

When I was growing up, back in the 80s, sex education was a fairly new phenomena; it was whispered male and female anatomical words; it was a very red-faced male science teacher explaining female reproductive organs; it was separating the giggling teens into the two genders where puberty was very briefly described and it was giving the girls free Tampax ready for Smith to steal them for his own entertainment. This was pretty much the extent of sex education at a mixed comp state school thus I gleaned most of my information from Just 17 teen magazine.

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An Open Letter to Perry

Dear Perry,

We’ve been together now for about 2 years although I know we’re both a little fuzzy on the start date. I can’t say it’s been a blast; we both know the first few months had many ups and downs, some might say a Space Mountain of a start, slowly chugging up the tracks and then hurtling at full throttle into the black hole of unfamiliarity.

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