Mary describes menopause as ‘the most fundamental loss ending her hopes of becoming a mother. Her decision to take HRT to improve poor memory was ‘like a miracle’. Withdrawal on doctor’s advice after 5 years, however, saw a return of symptoms.
For Mary, the onset of irregular periods at the age of 46 marked the final realisation that she was never going to be a mother. She describes this as a great tragedy, a great and serious loss; which had a considerable impact on her emotional state during the menopausal transition.
In addition to this sense of loss, Mary found that problems with memory and concentration during the menopause posed significant challenges in her work life as the director of a medical research charity. These ranged from forgetting appointments to inability to remember people’s faces and names.
Referred by her GP to a menopause specialist, Mary was prescribed HRT (Premique Cycle) which she describes as unfailingly excellent;. After 5 years, however, Mary moved house and registered with a new GP who was opposed to women staying on HRT long-term. As a firm believer in the medical profession, Mary followed her GP’s advice and stopped taking HRT. She experienced an immediate return of symptoms including memory loss, hot flushes, night sweats, weight gain and loss of libido. Although the severity of these symptoms resolved over a period of 6 months, Mary wonders whether in retrospect she could have continued safely with HRT until her sixties given its positive impact on her quality of life and the protection it offered against osteoporosis.
Mary describes the menopausal transition as taking place over a ten year period, with her experience influenced by other life events which further compromised her general health and well being. These included the illness and death of her parents, a month apart; the stresses of running a business; and treatment following a positive Pap smear test.
As a postmenopausal woman, Mary reflects on the menopause as bringing both positive and negative changes in her life. While she regrets her childlessness, lost libido, poor memory and weight gain, she strongly believes that she has reached a level of contentment in her life. Mary feels she has emerged from the menopause transition as a wise woman;, defined not by her sex appeal, but by the contribution she makes to society through her business and voluntary work.
Mary was interviewed for Healthtalkonline in December 2008.