Hayley Cockman

Hayley’s story

Hayley was just 14 years-old when she was told that she was postmenopausal due to Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI). She endured debilitating symptoms of the menopause for 25 years, until she set up an Instagram page to raise awareness of her condition, and finally found the advice and support she needed.

“I will never forget the day, 26 years ago, when I was told I was postmenopausal. I was just 14 years old. My mum was bawling her eyes out, and I was comforting her saying, ‘Don’t cry Mum, it’s okay, I’m alright.’ The thing is, it wasn’t alright at all.

An ultrasound confirmed I had a small womb and just one ovary – and that ovary was eggless. The doctor told me I had Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI), and that I needed to start HRT to protect my bones against osteoporosis. They explained that I would have a monthly withdrawal bleed which would keep the lining of my womb healthy, in case I wanted to try egg donation IVF later in life. After that, I was sent on my way. I wasn’t given any support, guidance or information. I walked out of that room totally oblivious to what the next 25 years had in store for me.

I won’t lie, it’s been tough. Mentally, physically, and emotionally tough. Not only did I grieve for losing my fertility, I hated the person I saw staring back at me in the mirror. I felt like a failure of a woman. I would try my hardest to make myself look nice, as I thought if I looked good others wouldn’t see the real pain behind my eyes.

I didn’t tell many people because I was scared I would be judged and gossiped about. I made endless trips to my doctors with literally every menopausal symptom going, just to be told there was nothing wrong with me and made to feel like I was some sort of hypochondriac. They never linked my symptoms with my POI diagnosis, never considered that my HRT dosage was wrong, or realised that all these symptoms were in fact down to my hormone levels.

Then, in 2020, I found my strength. I set up an Instagram page and decided it was time to turn a huge negative in my life into something positive. I was ready to tell others about my experience and help raise awareness. I then met a menopause specialist, and she helped me more in days than the NHS did in years. She listened to me, changed my medication – and within four months I felt like a different person.

Finding my tribe of women through the power of social media has changed my life, and I know I will never feel alone again.”

Follow Hayley on Instagram at @prematuremenopause14

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