24 Mar 2022

Perimenopausal and taking HRT

The Latte Lounge supports women by sharing real-life menopause stories. This story is written by Catherine Brennan. Over to you Catherine.

What’s wrong with me?

I can’t figure it out. I go to sleep and wake up tired. I’m a mess emotionally. My husband just gave me a framed photo of our dinner menu from our wedding anniversary, and I burst into tears. I then turned around and bit his head off because he was breathing out of the wrong nostril. Later on, I was swamped by a feeling of crushing worry, more than anxiety, my mind was racing, and then it wasn’t racing; I was just under a cloud as if all my emotions were fading into the background. 

Luckily, I had already looked into what I was feeling. I happened upon Dr Louise Newson’s Instagram page, which led me to her website, to the NICE guidelines on perimenopause, and I thought…

Oh, My God- I am NOT losing my mind; I am just losing my oestrogen.

What a relief.

RELATED ARTICLE: HRT in the UK: Essential information you need to know

I was prescribed antidepressants instead of HRT

So I went to my doctor. She listened to me recall my symptoms, and then she prescribed me antidepressants.

"Oh no," I said, "I’m not depressed. I think I am in perimenopause and that HRT might be a good option."

'Oh'- she said- "no- I can’t prescribe that because of the increased risk of breast cancer."

"Oh",- I said- "I researched that, and in fact, it was a 2008 study, now debunked and incomplete, and there is no association between breast cancer and topical oestrogen and micronized progestin." She just shook her head.

RELATED ARTICLE: HRT Explained

I knew it was Oestrogen I needed, not antidepressants

Now, not that long ago, I would have walked out of the office and felt defeated. Not that day. I asked for a referral to my ObGyn, whom I’d talked to about my symptoms in a prior meeting. I knew he was open to discussing further.

Within a few minutes of chatting with him, he thought I would be a good candidate for oestrogen. I cannot describe the relief that I was being listened to. Sometimes that’s part of the puzzle too, being cared for, and having my concerns validated and alleviated, that my symptoms were not a sign of mental instability. 

And guess what?

Within a couple of days, my symptoms were gone, and I was back!

I know HRT isn’t a one-size-fits-all, that women’s health is multi-faceted, and that we can do a much better job supporting women in midlife rather than dismissing them. I was lucky that my ObGyn listened and cared; I just don’t think women should have to be lucky to get the care they need and deserve.

Written by: Catherine Brennan, Toronto 

If you feel you might be suffering from peri/menopausal symptoms, download our FREE perimenopause symptom checker here:  

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