IT wasn’t until I was recording an episode of my podcast The Mid Point in the autumn of 2020 that I realised I was experiencing perimenopausal symptoms.
My guest Mariella Frostrup was discussing her experience of the menopause.
She’s a bit older than me and was talking about things that she’d gone through, and I suddenly realised that some of the symptoms she was describing sounded very familiar.
I was 47 at the time, and for me it was more to do with mood, anxiety, experiencing a lack of joy and not feeling clear in my mind.
But it had been like a slow erosion, and we were still in the midst of the pandemic, so I wasn’t sure if the way I was feeling was just because of that.
But after listening and talking to Mariella, I started investigating, and voilà – it was perimenopause.
It suddenly dawned on me that my periods had become a lot less frequent, my skin was feeling quite dry and my hair wasn’t in as good condition as usual.
There were lots of little things that started to add up when I began looking at a checklist of symptoms.
Mariella gave me the name of her specialist and I booked an appointment for some general blood tests, which included checking my hormone levels.
The specialist rang me a week later and said: “Your hormones are on the floor.”
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She recommended that I take some bioidentical hormones to get myself back to where I was before.
And my goodness, by Christmas that year, the reaction that I had was phenomenal.
Pretty much within a few weeks, I felt totally different – a lot more like the old me. I was still going to the gym and exercising four or five times a week, but I was getting so much more out of it.
It wasn’t entirely straightforward, though – my skin started breaking out and I realised I didn’t need as much testosterone, so my doctor scaled back the dose.
But overall, I felt mentally sharper and more optimistic in my outlook. And I was more chilled-out at home.
When it comes to the perimenopause/menopause, it’s got to be the person’s individual decision whether to take medication, but it’s really important that women are properly informed and not just reading scary headlines about it.
I still notice a narrative within parts of the media that somehow if you submit to HRT, you’re cheating.
There’s also occasionally an attitude of: “I’m gonna hang on for a bit longer, I’m not going to take HRT yet.”
But if it’s been proven that the earlier you take it, the better your chances are of not getting osteoporosis, and that your heart will be healthier, why are we hanging out like troopers trying to beat the menopause?
This idea that you have to be lying in a pool of sweat every night to merit having treatment is something we should banish.
I’m not somebody who has experienced depression, but I just don’t think women should have to settle for a low mood for the rest of their lives.
What’s more, if me being on HRT means I’m not going to bother the NHS with any of the potential health issues that can arise when our hormones deplete, then that in itself is a positive for them and me.
My skin and hair feel healthier and less dry, my mood is better, my libido has picked up, my energy is more consistent and the brain fog has gone.
Yes, I could have probably carried on living without HRT, and I wouldn’t have died.
But to me, that’s not how we live. I’ve had a great first half of my life – I want the second half to be just as fun and rewarding.
- The First Half by Gabby Logan (£20, Piatkus) is out now.