HRT helped Denise overcome mood swings, itchy skin and hair loss. More recently hormone pessaries have improved vaginal dryness. She believes some of her symptoms, including joint pain and tiredness, may be related to a chronic health condition.
Denise describes herself as blessed; in terms of not experiencing any particularly bad menopause symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats. Yet when she started to notice her periods getting lighter, mood swings, itchy skin, and hair loss around age 50 she consulted her GP who confirmed via a blood test that her hormones were obviously lessening and decreasing;. On her doctor’s recommendation she first tried herbal remedies such as black cohosh, but didn’t notice much difference at all;.
Although not initially keen to take HRT because of the risk of breast cancer, she finally agreed to a very low (one milligram) dose of Elleste Duet. However, although she felt fine for some time, the itchy skin and hair loss returned. Now on two milligrams, her symptoms have settled down. She is unsure how long she will take HRT but plans to discuss this with her doctor in the next year or so;.
Denise suffers from the chronic inflammatory condition, ulcerative colitis. Over the past five years this has flared up several times requiring treatment with quite a high dose of steroids. She acknowledges that it is often difficult to determine whether symptoms such as hair loss, tiredness and joint pain are related to this or to the menopause. Moreover, she believes that the menopause often coincides with children flying the nest;, caring for elderly parents, and a desire for change which can impact on feelings of well-being.
Since beginning the menopause, Denise has noticed a decrease in interest in sex. Recently she has been prescribed Vagifem, a hormone pessary to help alleviate symptoms of vaginal dryness. The pessaries, which she uses seven times a week initially, then twice a week, have also been successful in decreasing her frequent visits to the toilet.
For Denise, the menopause is the beginning of another era;, with opportunities to explore new directions in life and work. As a menopausal women, she also joins what she describes as a sisterhood of togetherness; where women have the chance to be together and share their experiences.
Denise was interviewed for Healthtalkonline in June 2009.