What is your age and stage?
I’m now 56 and post menopausal.
When did your symptoms start and what were they?
I would say that I was perimenopausal at around 47, but I only know that in retrospect because I wasn’t really thinking about it! My 40s were challenging in my personal life – IVF, marriage breakdown etc, so I was just keeping my head down and pushing through.
What has been the most challenging thing to deal with?
To be honest, I haven’t really suffered much because as soon as I started with night sweats it dawned on me that I was menopausal and I started HRT. Leading up to that, I experienced a lot of breast tenderness and some anxiety.
Have there been any positive symptoms?
The positives are not having periods (I have the Mirena coil in but I’m pretty sure they would have stopped by now!), no more sore boobs and no more PMT.
What are the things that are getting you through?
HRT, good friends, music and having fun.
What has made the biggest difference?
Mostly HRT but also singing and the people that I have met through music.
Did you seek any advice from experts, friends or family?
I sought advice from myself largely by training in the menopause. But now working more and more in menopause, I learn from colleagues and patients. We all help each other with this time of life.
What was the advice you received?
I did see my GP. They advised me to stop HRT after five years which was not good advice. I have learned the best way to manage this transition time is by my own learning and working with experts – not just doctors but psychologists, nutritionists and exercise gurus.
I did see my GP. They advised me to stop HRT after five years which was not good advice.
Is there anything you wish you’d known?
I wish I had known more about how to treat menopausal women earlier on in my career. I had no training at all as an undergraduate and very little as a post grad doctor.
What has been the impact on your daily life?
My daily life is very busy – that is because I feel really well and usually very energised. I do have times when I don’t sleep so well or feel anxious for no apparent reason and that makes the demands of my job more difficult.
However, the positives far outweigh the negatives and so the impact has been that I have trained to be a specialist, I run workshops and speak at events, I run my practice and I’m about to do my first solo jazz gig – bring it on!
Has there been an impact on your relationships?
I’m lucky to have incredible friends and family, too, but I’m aware that if I get really tired I can be not very nice to be around. I recognize when I need some time out and I try to factor that in every week. Many of my friends are extremely capable women who are really struggling with the menopause and have no idea where to get help. So at least I can now signpost them.
Is there anything you’d do differently?
I would perhaps have taken more of an interest in the menopause earlier in my career.
What do you say to other women about the menopause?
The menopause is easy to treat. I tell women that it’s not rocket science, but you need to talk to someone who is interested and who has time. I’m embarrassed by the poor advice that women are given. This is a complicated time of life but it’s also incredibly liberating, but you have to constantly evaluate and re-evaluate where you are and make adjustments.
The menopause is easy to treat. I tell women that it’s not rocket science, but you need to talk to someone who is interested and who has time.
What are your thoughts on this time of a woman’s life?
I love being this age. It has its challenges of course, but it’s also great fun and empowering if you take a step back and look at where you are. I’ve made some amazing new friends in the last year and am working out what really makes me tick. But you have to make the time to do that, otherwise you are missing a lot of exciting opportunities.
Your menopause was…
…I don’t really think about my own menopause because I didn’t have symptoms for long enough for it to get it my way. I’m finding it a liberating and exciting time of life.
You feel MPowered when…
…I’m singing with a great jazz band!
Read more from Dr Stephanie Goodwin and find out about her clinic, at www.drstephaniegoodwin.co.uk