Nancy sailed through menopause in her mid-40s with no symptoms. Diagnosed as being at risk of osteoporosis, she took HRT for 10 years. A recent mastectomy has made her wonder about the possible link between long-term use of HRT and breast cancer.
Nancy’s experience of the menopause has been very positive. She describes herself as one of the very very lucky women who really didn’t notice it at all;. She first missed a period in 1994 when she was in her mid 40s. As her husband had had a vasectomy, she discounted pregnancy and assumed she had started the menopause. This coincided with a very stressful period in her life which involved working as well as caring for her mother and her children. She believes that stress plays a key role in menopause.
Nancy was too busy to consult her GP about this until 2 years later when she had another period. A friend suggested that this was not normal and her GP referred her to a menopause clinic for assessment. No problems were identified, however, a bone scan showed low bone density and she was prescribed HRT (Livial) to prevent the onset of osteoporosis. She continued to take HRT for about ten years but increasing problems with facial hair and weight gain `caused her to discontinue use in 2007. Following discussion with her GP, she gradually stopped taking HRT and noted no withdrawal symptoms. She was then prescribed Protelos for her osteoporosis. She felt that this was preferable to HRT because of the risks associated with HRT.
In 2007, a routine mammogram showed pre-cancerous cells throughout her breast. She has since had a mastectomy and full breast reconstruction but needed no further treatment. Although her doctors have assured her that it is unlikely, Nancy has a niggling suspicion; there could be a connection between the pre-cancer cells and taking HRT over a long period. On her GP’s advice, she has stopped taking Protelos because of her cancer risk and is happy not to be taking any medication.
Nancy feels incredibly lucky to have gone through the menopause without experiencing any unpleasant symptoms. She feels desperately sorry; for her friends who have not been so fortunate.
Nancy was interviewed for Healthtalkonline in January 2009.