"Why is it such a fight to get treatment?"
About: Stobhill Hospital / Gynaecology Stobhill Hospital Gynaecology G21 3UW
Posted by Dazzle (as ),
I attended Stobhill Menopause Clinic in September 2013. I wanted to get support to manage Early Menopause. I entered early menopause at age 29 after surgery and lets just say it was like the sledgehammer effect. I would never have believed how much early menopause could have impacted day to day life if it wasn't for the fact I have now lived with it for 4 years. Yes there are the sweats and the flushes which in themselves are debilitating when you are 29 years old but for me the most difficult symptom's to live with have been the increased levels of anxiety and depression. I now know from running a support group for over 150 women managing early menopause that that these are extremely common symptoms and are very debilitating. I also know from research and lived experience that they are linked to low levels of estrogen in our bodies when we would normally have high levels at a young age.
I consider myself to be very well informed in this area, I have thoroughly researched my treatment options. I have spoken at Womens Health Conferences in Glasgow and London about my hormonal experiences and I have had an article published in Menopause International Journal. I am not stupid and do not wish to be treated as if I am. I consider myself to be the expert in my own life - and would like to work in partnership with the experts in the field of medicine to optimise my quality of life. I am very active in self-managing my condition as it's a long term condition that I am going to have to manage for at least the next 18 years until I am 'normal' menopause age.
Therefore I have taken a considerable amount of time over the last 4 years to research treatments to support me in managing it. I have an excellent GP who has worked with me to try to find a correct balance of hormone replacement therapy to stabilise my symptoms. This has included trials of a few antidepressant medications. These however do not work for my symptoms as my symptoms are directly linked to my low hormone levels. I have a hormonal imbalance in my body the same as someone who has diabetes or thyroid issues - so why do I find it so hard to access appropriate treatment? At the appointment I was requesting to access a different type of hormone replacement therapy that I was aware was offered via the clinic and I feel would help me to optimise my quality of life. I felt however that the doctor was more interested in expressing her own opinion on the use of HRT and was not interested in listening to my lived experiences of life with and without it over the last 4 years. I however continued to strongly advocate for my rights to access treatment and was told someone would contact me within 2 weeks.
I'm still waiting in December. What is extremely frustrating for me is the apparent lack of understanding around the importance of treatment for women like myself. It has been proven that the benefits of taking HRT greatly outweigh the risks for women like myself. The British Menopause Society issued a consensus statement which includes the following "Estrogen-based replacement therapy is the mainstay of treatment for women with POF (premature ovarian failure - early menopause) and is recommended at least until the average age of natural menopause (52 years in the UK). This view is endorsed by regulatory bodies such as the Committee on Safety of Medicines (now the Commission on Human Medicines) in the UK. No evidence shows that estrogen replacement increases the risk of breast cancer to a level greater than that found in normally menstruating women and women with POF do not need to start mammographic screening early unless other risk factors are present, such as family history" So why is it such a fight to get treatment?
Sometimes I feel like it is because my main symptoms are mental health symptoms - these don't seem to some as important to treat. Well they are important to me and I will continue to advocate for the correct HRT to optimise my quality of life.