Emily

With a family history of Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI), I was always concerned about having an early menopause.

Early advice

I spent a lot of my late teens and early 20s discussing the possibility of early menopause with GPs and gynaecological professionals. I was always told the same thing, ‘Just have children young.’ In my early 20s I didn’t have a long term partner and I’d just started my career as a nurse. So having children wasn’t what I wanted to do.

Further investigations

I went back to my GP to ask for another gynaecological referral at 23, when I met my husband. From there, I was referred to Bath Fertility Centre. I had no POI symptoms at this time, but a scan of my ovaries and blood tests weren’t positive. So I immediately came off the pill and started trying for a baby.

My husband was an A&E registrar when we first met and he came to as many of my appointments as possible. Sadly, I feel like I was eventually listened to and taken more seriously because he – another medical professional – was there.

To everyone’s shock, I fell pregnant very quickly. Although it was a very anxious time for me, this was a successful pregnancy.

Still no perimenopause

18 months after our first baby, I still didn’t have any discernible perimenopause symptoms. We decided to try for another baby and, again, I got pregnant very quickly. But this time I suffered a miscarriage, which was extremely distressing given my fertility outlook.

After this I struggled to conceive. My periods were heavy, but always indicating ‘not ovulating’ on ovulation sticks. To avoid wasting any time, I paid to see a professional fertility consultant with a specialism in POI. Considering my lack of ovulation and some of my symptoms, she concluded that I was heading for the menopause. We decided to try Clomid and, luckily for us, it worked. We had twin boys 9 months later.

Post birth difficulties

My consultant wrote to my GP to explain that I’d need HRT once I’d stopped breastfeeding the boys. But no one listened.

My symptoms included: nausea, headaches, fatigue, sore muscles and joints, palpitations and brain fog. My periods became so heavy that I couldn’t leave the house because I bled all down my legs. And during COVID, all public toilets were closed.

I was told that this was all a normal part of being a new mum to twins and I obviously wasn’t coping very well. But I was both an experienced mum and a Health Visitor, so I knew that some of my symptoms weren’t the normal tiredness and sleep deprivation. But I didn’t have the confidence or energy to stand up for myself.

Relief…finally

After 16 attempts to get help from my GP, I gave up. My mood got so low that I just couldn’t take it anymore and I booked a private appointment with my specialist. 11 months after having the twins, I finally started HRT. As soon as I started taking the Estrogel, my brain fog lifted and I felt alive again.

Difficult to process

I remain infuriated by my experience. I had a POI diagnosis and a specialist’s report explaining the care I needed before I approached my GP about prescribing HRT. I didn’t know anything about POI then, so I relied on my GP’s advice and I feel very let down. In an attempt to move on from these difficult emotions, I’ve listened to the recordings of all my consultations. Hearing myself sound so vulnerable is very upsetting.

I hope that sharing my story of POI, pregnancy and early menopause will help other women to be their own advocate – empowered by knowledge.  

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