After Rebecca Jones had a total hysterectomy, she assumed she’d be able to take HRT if she needed it. But when her consultant advised her to wait for six weeks post-surgery, her menopausal symptoms were so severe that everyday life became unbearable.
“I’d fought for a total hysterectomy for over six years as I had such severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS) that I contemplated taking my own life at least once a month. I knew that I’d be thrown into an early menopause as a result, but I also knew that there was the option to take HRT to manage menopausal symptoms.
“Unfortunately, my consultant thought I should wait for six weeks before starting HRT just to ‘see how I got on’. As I’d had a previous deep vein thrombosis (DVT), every doctor I spoke to was concerned about me taking oestrogen, as they said this was linked to an increased risk of DVT. I’ve since found out that this only applies if you take HRT tablets, as the oestrogen has to pass through the liver. If you use HRT patches or gels, there’s no additional risk.
“Three weeks after the surgery, my life became pretty unbearable. I wasn’t sleeping, and the hot flushes would take my breath away. On top of the physical symptoms, my mental health was deteriorating by the day. I was snappy, emotional, irritated, angry, forgetful, and unable to concentrate. I couldn’t make the simplest of decisions, and the paranoia was insane. I practically stalked my husband and checked his phone all the time – I convinced myself that he must be having an affair and wanted to leave me, because who would want to be married to me? I saw myself as a fat, ugly, useless and generally horrible person – and I was being particularly horrible to him. When I couldn’t sleep at night (and that was every night), I would sit on the floor next to his side of the bed and quietly go through the history on his phone and tablet, looking for proof that he was cheating on me.
“My husband and I have been happy together for 27 years and I have never behaved like that before, but I just couldn’t rationalise it. I was out of control, and so scared that I was having a breakdown. I even drove to my local A&E, but I sat outside crying because I was too afraid to go in. Who would believe me? I looked normal on the outside, but inside I felt scared, broken and alone.
“Luckily, my amazing, patient husband didn’t give up on me. When his boss asked how I was getting on, he explained that I was struggling with the menopausal symptoms. His boss suggested that I go and see a menopause specialist. So we made an appointment, and off we went.
“During my consultation, the specialist asked how I was feeling and assured me that I wasn’t having a breakdown. She explained that I needed around 200mcg of oestrogen, as well as testosterone. She warned me that it would take a few weeks before I’d start to feel better, but we made a follow-up appointment for two weeks later.
“By the time we went back, I felt great! I’d stopped crying, the hot flushes were few and far between, the paranoia had gone, and I felt more rational and able to cope. I’ve taken back the reins of running our home, and when I do have days when I feel blue, I try to be kinder to myself.
“My life has now returned to normal, and for that I’m so grateful.”