For Judy, the menopause started at 40 with a missed period and coincided with the onset of the autoimmune disorder Myasthenia Gravis. As well as irregular periods over the past 6 years, she has experienced hot flushes which have disrupted her sleep.
Judy’s transition to menopause started at the age of 40 when she missed a period. Unprepared for an early menopause, Judy thought at first that she was pregnant. However, another missed period several months later confirmed that she had started the menopause. She describes experiencing an early menopause as a bit unfair;.
Over the past six years, Judy’s periods have continued to be irregular and unpredictable. She experienced hot flushes over a two month period especially when stressed, overheated, or in bed at night. As well as causing embarrassment, the hot flushes disrupted her sleep leaving her tired during the day.
For Judy, the onset of the menopause coincided with a diagnosis of Myasthenia Gravis, an autoimmune disorder which causes muscle weakness and double vision. She wonders whether there might be a link between declining oestrogen levels and the onset of autoimmune conditions in women in their forties. Although Judy has gained weight in recent years, she is unsure if this is associated with the steroids she is taking or with the menopause. While interested in how HRT might affect her Myasthenia, Judy is not considering taking it at present because of her lack of symptoms and possible interaction with her existing medication.
Judy feels that the menopause is downplayed in doctors; surgeries and in the media, with a general lack of information available. She believes there should be more information about the menopause prominently placed in doctors; waiting rooms, and support groups where women can talk to each other and get informed advice from health professionals.
Despite her greying hair and loss of fertility, Judy has found the transition to menopause empowering. Liberated from the need to feel attractive and impress men, she feels freer to express her opinions at work and has been promoted to a leadership position. For her, the menopause has also meant an end to pre-menstrual tension, and this has had a positive effect on her family life.
Judy was interviewed for Healthtalkonline in December 2008.