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Beverley - Interview 13

Age at interview: 50
Brief Outline: Beverley thought she was pregnant when her periods became irregular in her late thirties. Despite symptoms, her GP felt she was too young for menopause. A blood test later confirmed menopause. Menopause took away her choice of having more children.
Background: Beverley is an anti-social behaviour caseworker. She is divorced with two adult daughters. She started the menopause at age 38 and had her last period at 46. Ethnic background/nationality' Black British.

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Beverley panicked when she missed a couple of periods in her late thirties. Her relief at not being pregnant, however, was offset by the arrival of hot flushes and sweats. Believing she had started the menopause, Beverley consulted her GP on a number of occasions over the next two years. He assured her, however, that as the average age of menopause was around fifty, she was too young to be menopausal. At her insistence, he finally agreed to do a blood test which confirmed she had started the menopause. Beverley is adamant that GPs be more aware that women can start the menopause earlier than the average age.

Beverley’s GP offered her the choice of going on HRT and advised her to lose weight. Deciding not to take HRT, Beverley took ‘natural’ menopause remedies for a few years, buying these over-the-counter at the supermarket. Although she is unsure whether these helped her, she felt they enabled her to manage her symptoms and provided calcium for her bones. Lifestyle changes such as sleeping in a room with an open window, adjusting the type of clothes she wore and walking around with a fan also helped her cope with hot sweats. As well as hot sweats, Beverley has experienced some bladder problems during the menopausal transition, ‘if I want to go I have to go’ and has been referred to a specialist.

For Beverely, the menopause does not mean getting old but rather another chapter in her life. While the menopause has liberated her from periods and the fear of pregnancy and has increased her libido, it has closed the chapter on having children. She regrets that the menopause has taken away her choice of whether or not to have another child. Rather than being in control of her body, she feels that it is now dictating to her.

Beverley describes the menopause transition as being like a graph. She feels that she has ‘got to the top of the hill and come down’ but not quite reached the bottom. While not as frequent, hot sweats remain part of her everyday existence and she wonders whether they will continue for the rest of her life.

Beverley was interviewed for Healthtalkonline in February 2009.

 

Beverley found it hard to convince doctors she was entering the menopause because she was in her...

Beverley found it hard to convince doctors she was entering the menopause because she was in her...

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I was in my late thirties and I had been someone who was always regular when it came to my monthly cycle and all of a sudden I missed a couple of months and I went to my doctor’s because I started panicking thinking I was pregnant. Did a pregnancy test and I wasn’t and then I noticed I was getting the sweats. And then I started going to my doctor’s thinking that I might be going through the menopause and they kept fobbing me off saying, “No, you’re not. You’re too young.” Apparently, the normal age is fifty plus and the fact that I was in my late thirties they didn’t think that I was going through it. And I think it took me about two years off and on of going backwards and forwards to my doctor’s before they agreed to do the test. Then they rang me and I thought something was really bad and I went in to see them and it confirmed what I had been saying.

 

Beverley coped with hot flushes by using a fan, wearing short sleeved t-shirts and sitting near a...

Beverley coped with hot flushes by using a fan, wearing short sleeved t-shirts and sitting near a...

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The sweats got really bad. And it was funny because you could feel it from the tip of your toe and you could feel it rising and then I’d glow and I’d be fanning myself for dear life. I was a typical Caribbean person in terms of I always felt the cold. However, once I was into my menopause I was never cold, in fact I was always hot and this went on for quite a few years.

I adjusted the type of clothes I wore and didn’t layer as much. I could literally wear a short sleeved t-shirt or a jumper or blouse with a cardigan on top in the summer, in the winter, sorry, and I’d be fine. Obviously, my jacket if I was outside. Because I didn’t really feel the cold as much as I had done before. So it’s basically changing your lifestyle but you do it and then it becomes part of your normal day to day. And as I said I’d walk around with a fan. I also had a fan in my office that was on my desk so I could put it on and if I didn’t, if I was sitting somewhere where there wasn’t a fan then I’d try and sit somewhere where I had access to a window. So I could open it.

And as I said, I’m 50 now. The sweats have calmed down but every now and then I do get them but not as much and I’m starting to feel the cold again so I’m wondering if I’ve come to the end of that cycle and my body is now coming back to something like what it was premenopausal.

 

Beverley was upset when she realised that she could no longer decide whether or not to have...

Beverley was upset when she realised that she could no longer decide whether or not to have...

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But I must admit when they told me that I was going through the menopause I was quite sad and I cried. Because for years I’d been saying I didn’t want any more children, which is fine because I was then dictating to my body. Now my body’s dictating to me and all of a sudden I wanted another child. I didn’t but I did if you understand and I hated my body for dictating to me what I can or cannot do. So the decision whether or not to have another child had now been taken out of my hands.

Ever since I started my period or ever since I became an adult I’ve been able to make choices and one of my choices was I had two kids, I got to 30, well, 33 and I didn’t want any more children. So I was now dictating to my body what I could or couldn’t do. When it was confirmed that I’m going through my menopause the choice of whether or not to have children had been taken away from me. And for the fact my body is now leading and dictating what I can or cannot do. I didn’t like that and at that point I wanted another child and I think I wanted it because I couldn’t have it. Had I been able to have more children I would have still said, “No, I don’t want any more.” Like quite a few people may have done. So for me that was the worst part about going through the menopause. The reality was that I would never, ever be able to give birth to another child. But then did I really want to give birth to another child? Up until to that point, no but I think in the back of my mind I would have loved to have had one more.

 

Beverley felt ‘fobbed off’ by her GP when she had symptoms in her late thirties

Beverley felt ‘fobbed off’ by her GP when she had symptoms in her late thirties

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I was in my late thirties and I had been someone who was always regular when it came to my monthly cycle and all of a sudden I missed a couple of months and I went to my doctor’s because I started panicking thinking I was pregnant. Did a pregnancy test and I wasn’t and then I noticed I was getting the sweats. And then I started going to my doctor’s thinking that I might be going through the menopause and they kept fobbing me off saying, “No, you’re not. You’re too young.” Apparently, the normal age is fifty plus and the fact that I was in my late thirties they didn’t think that I was going through it. And I think it took me about two years off and on of going backwards and forwards to my doctor’s before they were able to do, would agree to do the test. Then they rang me and I thought something was really bad and I went in to see them and it confirmed what I had been saying.

 

Beverley ignored the prescription her doctor wrote for HRT and tried herbal remedies instead

Beverley ignored the prescription her doctor wrote for HRT and tried herbal remedies instead

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And I was offered the treatment, when you’re menopausal they give you these tablets to take.

HRT?

HRT. But I decided not to take them and I went to Asda and I looked to see what they had for menopause and I actually took vitamins and whatever they recommended for menopause.

You decided not to go on HRT. Can you tell me why you decided not to?

I wanted to try natural things or try something else. I went, my local store is Asda, and I just went and looked to see what they had on their shelves. And they did have lots of things that you could take. Whether or not they assisted me or not I don’t know but for me while I was taking them my menopause was manageable. I didn’t get to the stage when I wanted to pull my hair out or it was just manageable.

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