“I am very lucky because I work for a company that is very understanding of what women go through. I have a female line-manager who I can talk to and who is very supportive. But not all women have this. That must be tough.
I will be 48 in a few months and my perimenopause probably started about 8 or 9 months ago. I wasn’t sure what was happening to me, boiling hot one minute, cold the next, and I was waking up in the middle of the night sweating with wet bed sheets. I was physically and mentally exhausted but thought I just had the flu or another virus because it had been going on for weeks.
So, I went to the doctor who informed me that I was around the correct age to enter perimenopause. Normally you can tell because your periods stop. But because I had a coil fitted that was not an indicator.
I took a blood test which confirmed this. The test gave me certainty and I could stop worrying that something more serious was wrong with me. My doctor was really good, giving me lots of leaflets which answered many of my questions. But then I started getting migraines that were so severe that I was losing sight in my left eye, losing my balance and was physically sick.
It was stressful at the office where I work because I would be fine to start but suddenly I would be spinning out, my concentration levels were so low that I started doubting my abilities to do the job and thought I was getting too old. I became very emotional especially when small children or dogs were around.
I was originally taking HRT patches but since the pandemic they have been harder to get hold of and they had to be ordered in advance. I found the right type at the right strength but then had real difficulty getting them again. So, I had to start again with a different brand and it was incredibly frustrating. My body reacts differently to different patches although there is no reason that I know of why that should happen. They either don’t stick properly or don’t give me the same feeling and I end up having a period and my emotions go up and down. So, I went back to the doctor and I will be trying tablets.
I’m now also taking vitamins to tackle my migraines and trying to eat a better diet which is hard for me as I love my food.
It is difficult for men to understand the menopause because they don’t go through it. If a woman gets pregnant, we might say ‘we are having a baby’ but we don’t say ‘we are having the menopause’.
But men are affected too, as they have to cope with the mood swings and the many other symptoms. Unfortunately, it’s been a taboo subject for men of a certain age and was never spoken about when they were young, unlike now. Too be honest many women are ignorant of what is going on in their own bodies so how can we expect men to grasp it.
But men should learn to open up and maybe doctors could give explanatory leaflets to them so that they understand what is happening to their partners. Unfortunately, most men are not very good at going to the doctor.
There are quite a few women in our company who are at the same stage of life as I am, so our bosses have brought experts into the office to talk to us. We are now looking to bring in a specialist doctor for a ‘lunch & learn’ session who can speak in more detail. We feel that the company is being supportive by doing this and it’s great that we’re looking at how we can move forward together.
I spend so much of my time at work so it stands to reason that I will get symptoms in the office. I can’t overstate the importance of working for a company that listens and supports women at a wholly natural but challenging time of their lives. Hopefully, all employers will be like mine moving forward.”
For more information on the Embrace the Change menopause event on Tuesday 16 May and who will be speaking, go to www.guernseyskinandbeauty.com/menopause-event-2023