Loss of memory, inability to concentrate and anxiety had a detrimental impact on Joyce’s quality of life and ability to function at work. HRT has made a significant difference. She is determined to set up support networks to help women in the workplace.
Coinciding with the breakdown of a relationship, Joyce found her periods becoming irregular at age 45. Following a blood test, her GP confirmed that she was perimenopausal. A year later she began to have hot flushes during the day. but these did not inconvenience her. She believes that taking the herbal remedy soy isoflavones helped manage the physical symptoms. It was not until eighteen months ago, however, that emotional and mental symptoms of the menopause really kicked in;.
In a demanding job requiring the ability to absorb and process complex information, Joyce became increasingly concerned at her inability to concentrate and remember details. Describing her poor memory as being like ‘somebody’s taken a chip out of my brain;, Joyce feared she was experiencing the early stages of dementia. Feeling increasingly anxious, she found it difficult to function effectively in her job (despite positive appraisals) and to sleep at night. A panic attack during a presentation at work was the trigger Joyce needed to take action.
After seeing an occupational health professional and a counsellor, Joyce consulted her GP six months ago and asked to go on HRT. Before prescribing, however, her GP discussed the benefits as well as the risks involved. Although Joyce felt her decision to go on HRT (Nuvelle) was a bit like playing Russian roulette; with her body, she balanced this against the negative impact her symptoms were having on her health and well-being. After three months she felt like a new woman;, describing HRT as the best thing going;.
As well as relieving her hot flushes and tiredness, the resumption of regular periods; on HRT made her psychologically feel less cheated at being deprived of her fertility at a relatively early age. While regaining her memory and concentration has taken longer, she now feels that her brain has gone back into place;. Her GP has agreed to continue to prescribe HRT for one year and then to reassess. Joyce is apprehensive about the possibility of emotional and mental symptoms returning if she stops taking HRT in the future, but equally feels prepared to put up with some difficulties to reduce her risk of cancer.
Joyce believes that the menopause has a huge impact on women’s working lives. In a leadership role in a predominantly male workforce, she is determined to provide a support network through which women can not only share their experiences but get information and advice about the menopause.
Joyce was interviewed for Healthtalkonline in March 2009.