Real women tell us their menopause stories
Google "menopause" and you’ll find thousands of results with information and advice on how to deal with it.
Recent studies show that fewer women are using HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) because of it's link to strokes and heart disease1. However, a separate study shows that low dose hormones early on in menopause has made women feel better and did not raise the risk of heart disease2.
With so much conflicting advice it’s hard to know exactly what’s right. We went straight to the source, chatting to four menopausal women who were willing to share their stories with us. We spoke to Mary and Viv, both in their late fifties and Linda and Liz, both in their early fifties.
This is what they had to say:
How old were you when you first started experiencing menopause and how did you find out?
Mary – At around 50. I had a screaming argument over the dinner table in a restaurant with my sister while we were on holiday. My sister is a nurse and since she had been through it herself, she recognised the symptoms.
Sandy – I also started in my early fifties.
Liz – I started last year when I started getting irregular periods.
Linda – I was 45 when I started menopause. My husband passed away a few months later and the menopausal symptoms stopped. It returned when I was 47.
Viv – I was much younger. It started when I was about 34 or 35. I was nauseous all the time and constantly tired, so I had blood tests that confirmed it.
What is the worst symptom?
Viv – Night sweats and not sleeping.
Mary – They’re my worst too.
Sandy – Hot flushes.
Liz – Period pains and heavy bleeding.
Linda – Forgetfulness and depression.
How do you deal with it?
Mary – I use a HRT called Estrofem. It’s my best friend!
Sandy – Haha! Mine too. I’ve been on Estrofem for about 10 years.
Viv – I was also using HRT until I had a stroke. I was told to stop using it because it might have contributed to the stroke. I now use herbal tablets.
Linda – I started taking HRT as well as a hormonal cream but because of our family history of breast cancer I decided to stop both.
Liz – For me, exercise and diet have been key.
Do women get enough support when dealing with menopause?
Mary – I was absolutely impossible to live with without the HRT!
Linda – I found a brilliant female gynecologist who understood and helped me through it. Before that I didn’t know what was happening to me so I couldn’t expect my family to. I think you only really understand once you have been through it. People think it’s used as an excuse for a bad mood.
Viv – I also had a female doctor who was very sympathetic. My husband was great, he understood my mood swings (most of the time).
Sandy – Haha! Men couldn’t give a damn! Girlfriends and sisters are more understanding.
Liz – Not if they’re younger than you. I had no family support because my sisters are much younger than me and my mother is really old school. It was difficult to get any questions answered.
How did your body change?
Mary – I picked up weight even though I exercised and was careful with what I ate. I started losing the weight after about four years and I now weigh the same as I did in my twenties.
Linda – I also experienced weight gain, as well as a thyroid problem and dry, aging skin.
Liz – I had noticeable weight gain around the middle.
Viv – I call it the middle aged spread – and I got it too!
Sandy – I was lucky, my body didn’t change at all. I watch what I eat and keep fit.
What is your one piece of advice for younger women?
Mary – Exercise and healthy eating does help.
Sandy – Yes. Keep fit, happy and healthy.
Viv – It does pass with time. Keep feet cool when suffering with sweats in bed. Always seek advice from a doctor.
Liz – Agree, get as much information as possible from mothers, doctors, media, etc.
Linda – Also look for a female doctor who has an understanding of female changes, have blood tests and lots of exercise.