While I may have been in the throes of menopause for the last four years, I've only recently started HRT. Because the endless tiredness, anxiety and brain fog had started to really get me down, I thought it was time to bring in the big guns! I'm keeping a diary from my first three months so I can share my experiences. You can read the month one instalment below.
February 16: So, day one and I'm back from my doctor's appointment with a box of combined HRT patches. After discussing my menopause symptoms, my GP was very sympathetic; far more so than when I first went to get HRT a few years ago and was told to "cope" for as long as I could. She went through my options and we decided patches were the best way forward (I think my face when she demonstrated the Marina coil was enough to show I really didn't fancy that method!).
One issue reared it's head almost straight away was when I went to pick up my prescription from the chemist. I was told that due to limited stock they could only give me two month's worth and I would have to return next week for the rest. Let's hope that gets sorted very soon. It's also annoying that you have to pay prescription charges, while those on the gel and tablets, have to pay twice. However, from 1 April 2023, HRT costs will be reduced to less than £20 a year.
February 21: A few days in and I already notice that my sleeping has improved. Last night I slept nine hours - that's been unheard of for as long as I can remember. I have also changed patches for the first time. I'm still trying to find a good place to put them as the first one on my thigh came off when I took my jeans off.
The second patch fell off after two days, so I did a poll on my Instagram Stories. I had so many replies, from most women saying they put theirs on their bum, about an inch lower than the top of their pant line, or on their lower tummy, and switch sides each time they re-apply. I also had a few very helpful suggestions to stock up on Tegaderm Film dressings from Amazon, so I have bought a job lot, as these seem to do the job.
February 26: I woke up full of beans; so much so I decided to move all the furniture round in my bedroom as you do, king-size bed and all! Obviously half way through I wish I hadn't started, but I loved feeling energised - it's been a while. Last time I did this during lockdown (about a year or so into my menopause), I struggled to sleep. I blamed it on the bed being in a different position and switched it all back the week after. It'll be interesting to see if this becomes an issue with my HRT safety net.
March 4 & 5: My 52nd birthday weekend ... and what a fabulous one it was too. Saturday I spent with the big teen boy before the most delicious eight-course Michelin-starred dinner with my boyfriend at Simpsons. And yes, I ate every last bit. On the Sunday morning, we were up early to head to Weston Super Mare for breakfast with a sea-view, endless hours playing arcade games in the pier and finishing off with chips on the beach.
I spent the whole weekend with a massive smile on my face, I loved every minute and felt really happy. I'm not sure how much of that was down to my patches or my fantastic loved ones!
March 16: Happy to report that moving my bed to a different position hasn't interrupted my sleep. OK, so I'm not getting that nine hours every night, but I am enjoying seven hours of shut-eye at the moment. Three things I have noticed in my first month: My hot flushes have dropped significantly (in fact, last night I took a hot water bottle to bed!). I'm not waking up throughout the night. And the afternoon naps have been far less frequent. I think that's what you call a win!
March 23: Blooming HRT, it only went and gave me the confidence to buy a new car! No pointless panic attacks. No crippling anxiety. No lying awake in the middle of the night worrying. Well almost … There were a few wobbles, obvs, but if this had been a couple of months ago I’d have talked myself out of the whole thing. Instead I managed to find the perfect car, test drive it, fall madly in love, organise finance and insurance, and get trade in price agreed for mine. I even managed to dig out my extra keys and logbook despite having no idea where I’d “filed” them four years ago. That’s one big “Go me”. I just need to sort my driving anxiety out now. And make sure I steer well clear of Rightmove!
I'm not a medical professional, the above is an honest account of my own experiences. If you are considering HRT please chat to your GP, do your research and discuss it with your friends. I know women who have had the most amazing experience right from the get-go; others who had to switch their medication a few times until they found the one that worked; and those who it just didn't work for. Equally, I know some who have gone through the menopause using more holistic methods. Do you!