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Raising awareness of the menopause

18 Oct 2023

This World Menopause Day, a member of the RCOG Women’s Network, shares her experience of the menopause. Eri talks about awareness, workplace support and finding the right treatments for her.

I don't remember my mother suffering symptoms and my older female friends never talked about perimenopause to me, so I was totally oblivious when I started to experience symptoms.

I found myself sweating and I noticed a change in body odour on the short walk from the station to work. I couldn’t remember things. I found myself apologising for my ‘senior’ moments. I would forget what I was talking about mid-sentence. I was overwhelmed by work. I started to misplace my keys and my phone frequently. I was easily irritable and frequently cross with my children. I went from a social butterfly to not wanting to go out. I was tired, not sleeping well, and waking up hot and bothered with heart palpitations in the early hours of the morning. Then I couldn’t get back to sleep as my mind would start racing and I would worry about everything. My joints ached and I often felt stiff. These were some of the symptoms I recall and I didn’t feel like me anymore.

I clearly remember celebrating my 48th birthday, and I was feeling well and happy with my busy life and my three children who were finally all in secondary school. But within two months, exacerbated by the start of the pandemic and a change of role at work, I felt like a nervous wreck.

I began to suspect I was perimenopausal. My periods were still regular and I didn’t have the hot flushes or the dripping night sweats that I associated with menopause but I knew something wasn't right.

My friend told me about an online course on perimenopause so I started that and I booked myself a GP appointment. I was lucky enough to see a GP who had a special interest in menopause and led the menopause clinic at my local hospital. She diagnosed me on my symptoms alone (because of my age). She printed off some information and booked me in for a follow up appointment in two weeks time to decide if I wanted to start Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).

It took me a few weeks to pluck up the courage to start my prescription for oestrogen gel and progesterone tablets. Things didn't improve straight away. I was stressed at work because my role had changed. I was totally out of my comfort zone and working from home. I was the oldest member of staff at work and my male line manager had no idea what I was talking about when I mentioned perimenopause. I had no peer support at work and the workload became challenging. My anxiety rocketed, self-confidence plummeted and what used to be an enjoyable job was no longer the case.

HRT started to ease some of my symptoms but it was only the start. Its taken time to find what works for me. I swapped HRT gel for HRT patches, I switched from oral progesterone to the Mirena coil. I started vaginal oestrogen – I have used tablets, cream and now settled on the ring. I also use testosterone gel, having started on the pump twice a week but switching to the gel applied daily. It took me two and half years to finally feel like my old self.

Early on, I realised that HRT wasn't the only treatment option for my perimenopausal symptoms. Getting enough sleep, managing my stress levels, feeling supported by my workplace and at home by my family, flexible working options, lifestyle changes, movement, self-care and alternative treatments are all essential for me to manage my symptoms.

There is no one size fits all treatment just like there is no same perimenopausal journey. You just have to find what works for you. Peer support is what has kept me going. None of my friends really understood what I was talking about when I first noticed my symptoms three years ago. Now they are experiencing what I am talking about and come to me for advice. I set up an informal WhatsApp group namely because I couldn't remember who I shared what to and now it has snowballed into an informal peer support group of more than 80 women.

Three and a half years on, I am in a good place most of the time. But life remains a juggling act. At times of increased stress, my sleep goes out the window, my anxiety and overwhelming thoughts return and my physical symptoms resurface but I am aware that I need to pause and redress the balance and I know things will get better.

The more we talk about it at home, with our friends and at our workplace, the more it becomes our everyday. Acknowledgement leads to acceptance, and education leads to empowerment, and we can help ourselves to feel better. I was lucky to have got a diagnosis quickly and prescribed the recommended treatment straight away but it's also been a long road to feel like my old self again. 


About the menopause

Perimenopause is when you have symptoms of menopause but your periods have not stopped. Perimenopause ends and you reach menopause when you have not had a period for 12 months.

Menopause is a natural stage in life and part of the ageing process. It marks the time when a woman’s periods stop as her ovaries stop producing eggs.

Women’s experience of the menopause can vary hugely. Each woman will have her own emotional and physical response to the changes which are brought about by menopause.


Where to find out more about the menopause and treatment options


  • Policy and governance
  • Menopause