Despite experiencing side-effects with HRT, Carole feels it has helped her overcome anxiety and hot flushes. She believes quality of life is more important than potential risks. Still suffers anxiety and depression but draws support from an online forum.
Carole’s menopause experience has been characterised by anxiety and depression which has had a considerable impact on her enjoyment of life and her ability to continue with her job on a full-time basis. Carole traces her problems back to around 2006 when she began to feel slightly depressed, had trouble concentrating at work and felt generally stressed, anxious and unable to cope. This was followed by the onset of hot flushes and night sweats which had a significant effect on her sleep, leaving her feeling very debilitated and tired. Originally prescribed antidepressants by her GP, she decided not to take these and eventually asked another GP to prescribe HRT.
Although the HRT tablets settled the hot flushes and gave Carole more confidence and her old life back;, she experienced an allergic reaction (vomiting and diarrhoea). She subsequently tried HRT patches and a gel which she spread on her upper arms, however, these caused a allergic rash. She believes her reaction to HRT may be due to an allergy to oestrogen. Carole’s GP suggested that she go off HRT for a month to give her body a rest. This, however, saw the return of hot flushes, night sweats and feelings of depression.
Carole has tried St John’s Wort and Femal with limited success. Comparing the cost of these products with HRT, she feels that you could spend a fortune; on alternative remedies given that long-term use may be necessary to gain full benefit. She has recently started a lower dose HRT in tablet form (Climaval 1mg) which appears to be better tolerated. Despite the problems she has experienced with HRT she believes it has helped her considerably to overcome her anxiety and the hot flushes. She is reluctant to contemplate going off HRT in the future as she believes that quality of life at present is more important than any potential risks later. She is also concerned that if she goes off HRT she will then have to go through menopause with all its symptoms at a later date.
Carole experienced two bladder infections before going on HRT and believes that the menopause has led to a declining interest in sex. Despite the support and reassurance of her husband, she feels that loss of libido and weight gain have made her feel unattractive. Although HRT has helped, vaginal dryness has made intercourse difficult. Despite this, she is reluctant to use lubricants.
Carole feels isolated as she goes through the menopause and wishes her mother were still alive to comfort and reassure her. Her main support network comes from the Menopause Matters website. She is an active member of the forum, which acts as a source of information and advice, linking her to other women going through the menopause. She posts regular correspondence on the forum which she consults daily.
Carole was interviewed for Healthtalkonline in January 2009.