If I’m going to be honest, I had an inkling something wasn’t quite right months before I finally went to the doctor, but I was either in denial or was so busy running around like I usually do, I just didn’t have time to think or look after myself.
As the months went by and my periods were getting more sporadic and either a virtually non-existent period consisting of brown blood (sorry for too much information!), or such heavy painful teenage like periods lasting for 2 weeks and having to wear super plus tampons and a pad, I started to get concerned that this was the start of being peri-menopausal. But I wasn’t getting the hot flushes and terrible sweats at night that everyone talks about though? I spoke to friends who were of a similar age and one of them was starting to get the same problems with her periods, but she was getting the night sweats and had been told to not bother going to the doctor until at least 12 months of monitoring her periods and most likely her periods stopping altogether. I just took it that I would have to do the same and started making a note of my periods to eventually take to a doctor one day.
It wasn’t until I fell really ill with a viral infection, I made myself go to the doctors. I casually mentioned my periods and symptoms whilst there, and I was lucky to have such a supportive female doctor who took it seriously straight away. She talked through the menopause with me and the symptoms of being peri-menopausal…many of which I could relate to…apart from the hot flushes. She booked me in for a blood test, smear test and breast check. I was basically having a good MOT that I needed and had been putting off. This is something many of us do, where we put ourselves lower down on the list because we are ‘too busy.’
I remember that Tuesday morning well, the day I got the blood tests confirming that I actually was peri-menopausal. Yet again, my doctor was great and she printed a whole load of information for me to take home and digest. I thought I was fine and drove straight to work, my head spinning trying to take it all in and what option I should take for medication. I had to go straight in to a meeting and near the end of it my lovely colleague asked me if I was okay. It was at that point I broke down. I burst in to tears and just couldn’t stop. I think all of the emotions I had kept in for so long just came flowing out of me, and the waterfall couldn’t stop! All the things I thought I was okay with and had come to terms with came bubbling up to the surface….
After losing 3 babies to miscarriage, my husband and I had slowly accepted that we couldn’t have any more children, after having our little miracle; our much-loved daughter. However, finding out I was officially peri-menopausal made me feel instantly very old, and harshly took any tiny glimmer of hope away. At 44, yes, there could be the possibility of still getting pregnant at this stage, but the results made me feel that I had ‘bad eggs’ inside me and I would most likely lose another baby if we did fall pregnant. After everything I had been through, I knew that would just tip me over the edge, physically and emotionally.
I stayed in the meeting room and my colleague got my manager for me, who is male. Bless him, he really reminded me of my husband on the day my waters broke with our daughter; as he paced from one side to the other not quite knowing what to do or say to help me. In the end he gave me a big hug and asked if he could go and get our (female) Chief Executive as she would know what to do! I must say she was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING and sat and talked with me for about half an hour. She could totally understand the burst of emotions I was experiencing that morning and told me to go home and allow time to take it all in. Since that day I must say, between her, my manager and the HR Department they have all been so supportive.
If all companies were like this, and took the time to understand and empathise what women actually have to go through during the menopausal years, it could make a huge difference to many female lives. I know a lot has been done within the police force and other organisations to help women going through all the different stages of the menopause, but surely it needs to be normalised everywhere? We will all go through it at some stage, and every bit of support helps.