Clare Ward

I’ve always been an active person with a healthy lifestyle. I ate well, exercised regularly and had a positive, motivated outlook on life. I thrived running my Pilates business.

In 2021 I experienced the odd menopause symptom; night sweats when I was premenstrual, forgetfulness, moodiness and low sex drive. I put it all down to the accumulated stress of the pandemic and continuing to run a business throughout it.

Things got worse

By 2022 the list of symptoms grew and became too much for me to manage.

  • More painful periods
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Worse sweats
  • Constant fatigue
  • Non-existent sex drive
  • Brittle nails
  • Dry eyes
  • Dry mouth and throat
  • Feelings of anxiety and overwhelm
  • Brain fog
  • Forgetfulness

I just didn’t feel like myself anymore. The brain fog and forgetfulness were getting so bad I thought I was developing Alzheimer’s.

The fallout

My mental and physical health took an enormous hit. I was too tired to exercise as regularly as I had been. Everything felt like an effort, including just being my usual positive self. It was exhausting. And I totally lost my mojo for life.

I was moodier and regularly snapped at my husband. I’d lose my temper over the littlest thing, which was completely out of character.

My business also suffered. I wasn’t operating as well as usual and was forgetting things. The business didn’t grow that much because I couldn’t invest the same time and energy.

Getting help

I did some research into my symptoms, including watching the Davina McCall programmes. I remember thinking, ‘Oh my god, this sounds so familiar.’ These programmes are great for sharing the symptoms of perimenopause – which isn’t discussed enough – and the benefits of HRT for your future health.

Before watching, I wasn’t a big believer in medication and wanted to sort things out naturally. But this encouraged me to do further research into HRT. So when I went to my GP I was armed with a lot of information and an idea of what treatment path I wanted to try.

I really felt it was important to be prepared before going to see my GP. Lots of doctors aren’t experts in this area, which leads to some women being misdiagnosed and prescribed unnecessary medications, like antidepressants.

My HRT journey has been a bit of a roller coaster and I’m still trying to improve some of my symptoms. The oestrogen patches quickly improved some symptoms, such as hot flushes, memory and anxiety. But the initially prescribed progestogen pill didn’t suit me. The Mirena coil is much better for me. I pushed my GP to prescribe testosterone recently, to tackle my other symptoms that still aren’t improving.

Emotional support

I joined a local Facebook menopause support group. Its founder set it up to support other women with their menopause experience. I remember going to their first in-person even, ran with our local GP, just as I started HRT. It was an emotional and positive experience. Listening to and sharing other women’s experiences made me feel less alone.

What’s next?

I feel like I’m regaining control of my hormones and my life!

I’ve signed up to complete a 1000 mile walking challenge in 2023 to raise money for The Menopause Charity, and raise awareness of perimenopause and menopause. Here’s my fundraising page.

I think women can feel really isolated and like they’re going crazy when they start their perimenopause journey. So I’ve invited my Health and Wellbeing Facebook group to join in the walking challenge too. We post weekly, for accountability and arrange a social walk once a month.

Hopefully this gives women the space to share their experiences and know they’re not alone.

Laura Shuckburgh

Laura’s Story

Becky Stopp

Becky’s Story

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