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Janice - Interview 37- Menopause

Age at interview: 59
Brief Outline: Janice took HRT for 5 years which stabilised her periods, gave her energy and improved her memory. Since going off HRT at her GP's insistence, she has experienced low moods, forgetfulness and vaginal dryness. She feels the menopause is like a bereavement.
Background: Janice is a health worker. She is divorced with three adult daughters. She started the menopause at age 45 and had her last period at 57. Ethnic background/nationality' White British.

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Janice felt her GP did not understand her reasons for wanting to stay on HRT and believed her own...

Janice felt her GP did not understand her reasons for wanting to stay on HRT and believed her own...

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 I liked being on it actually. It seemed to give me some kind of energy boost and it sharpened my memory. So I felt better on HRT. Anyway, all this story took about five years to come round. I went down to the GP. It was a female doctor who said, “Oh, you’ve been on it for five years I’m not going to give you another prescription for it.” And I said, “But I want to be on it.” She says, “Yes, but there’s research coming out what’s showing there’s a higher risk of breast cancer.” And I did say, “Well, I don’t smoke. I don’t drink a lot, maybe half a glass of lager or something a night, maybe five nights, four nights, nothing heavy. Could I stay on it?” But the doctor was adamant I couldn’t continue on that. 

 
So I was brought off HRT and I found after that oh, it were terrible, absolutely. I were weepy. I were feeling depressed well, I’ve had depressed days. I just imagined this must be what depression feels like. I just couldn’t remember things. I were dull. I needed a sharp memory, a clearer memory in my job and it were terrible. So I went back to the GP and it were a male GP I got this time and I just begged, “Could I have HRT please?” And he said, “Well, we’d rather not.” And I said, “Well, I’ve got all the pressures from being a carer. I’m getting really weepy. I’m driving along the road and I just want to cry.” And he prescribed me some red clover and I tried that for about three months but it made no impact whatsoever.
 
So I just felt, this is it then. I’ve had my five years worth or whatever they consider you can have and I were just devastated. And I just think it was I’ve had my choice taken away from me. I wanted to stay on it. I felt better much better on it and I just couldn’t understand why somebody else had made that choice for me. They weren’t in my body and they weren’t living my life but yet a decision were made to sort of deny me a therapy which I found beneficial. And I did get the feeling somewhere along the line that it were viewed as women trying to clutch on to youth and really we should go into older age more gracefully, not need pharmacological, crutches or interventions. It were, “So get on with it”. And I’ve never been back since although I bet once a week at least I think, “Oh, I wish I could have my HRT.”
 
Is there a reason why you wouldn’t shop around and go elsewhere?
 
I would say in [city] there’s a culture of you stay with the same GP unless you move. I would say in [city] not many people do shop around, it’s often, “Oh, better the devil.” And then you hear shock, horror stories of other GPs and you think, “I’d better stop with mine.”
 
 

According to Janice, doctors do not like it if you appear to be more knowledgeable than them. She...

According to Janice, doctors do not like it if you appear to be more knowledgeable than them. She...

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So I got this book, bought this book and it was very interesting and it said you could have tests, is it FSH tests or something and I thought, “Dare I go down to the GP and ask for that. I think I’ll, you know.” It’s far too overly educated here because you’ve got to adopt a certain role for certain GPs. You don’t want to go and give them the impression that you’re more knowledgeable than them. It’s like women don’t. Often in society you have to play a role that you’re not very clever. So you have to play to type don’t you so no, I didn’t. I thought well, it must be lovely if you’ve got that test. You’d have some confirmation one way or the other so I did read lots of interesting things but I couldn’t relate it to what I could do for myself. 
 
I would say in [city] there’s a culture of you often stay with the same GP unless you move. I would say in [city] not many people do shop around, it’s often, “Oh, better the devil you know”, and then you hear shock, horror stories of other GPs and you think, “I’d better stop with mine.” So that I would say in [city] currently, whether that changes with the new NHS Choices or Choose and Book [a service that allows you to choose your hospital or clinic and book an appointment with a specialist], people don’t often change GPs through wanting a different medication.
 
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