My personal experience of the menopause
“Then a month later I was cooking in the kitchen and out of the blue I experienced my first hot flush – it was unbearable! One of my daughters (who was 11 at the time) asked me what was wrong as I looked so hot and sweaty and then she asked me why I had been so short tempered with her recently. She even asked if I was due a period as her friends were quite often stroppy before their periods!”
Dr Louise R Newson
I work as a GP in a large practice near Solihull, West Midlands. I have worked in the same practice for the past 14 years so I am very privileged to know many of my patients (and their families) really well which certainly helps with my work as a doctor. I also work with really supportive staff which makes a huge difference in this currently very stressful climate.
Although I only work as a GP for one day a week, I work on other days as a medical writer and editor. Over the past 15 years or so, I have written hundreds of articles on various topics for both doctors and also for patients. I work for various organisations including the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), MIMS Learning, www.patient.info and also the British Journal of Family Medicine.
Over the more recent years, I have written an increasing number of articles on women’s health issues including the menopause and its management. I am also involved in running courses training doctors and nurses about the menopause and hormone replacement therapy (HRT). I have given lectures nationally and regionally for healthcare professionals. Here are my declaration of interests.
I am the West Midlands lead for the Primary Care Women’s Health Forum. I am a member of the International Menopause Society and the British Menopause Society. I have had training from numerous experts including Dr Nick Panay and Dr Sarah Gray.
As a female GP in my mid-forties, I increasingly see women whose lives have been detrimentally affected by menopausal symptoms. Many of my friends are also experiencing similar symptoms, but are confused and often worried about the prospect of taking HRT. Increasingly, I hear stories about women going to ask for advice and support from their own GPs and they are told to “get on with it” or that they are not able to have HRT (when they actually could take it) or even that they are simply depressed and need anti-depressants (even though they are not clinically depressed).
I am constantly surprised and disappointed at how little accurate information there is for women to access to learn about the menopause. The Internet can often be a really powerful resource of medical information and certainly for many conditions it is really well covered with some excellent information for people to access. This is sadly not the case for the menopause, which affects all women.
Admittedly, around a quarter of women sail through their menopause without any symptoms whatsoever, but these women are clearly in the minority. For the vast majority of us, having menopausal symptoms can be horrendous and can really adversely affect the quality of not only our lives but also our partners’, families’ and work colleagues’ lives. Although I only had symptoms for a few months, I was surprised how dreadful I felt and how difficult I found it to function and carry on with my normal life.
Being a GP is a really rewarding job and one in which I constantly receive feedback from my patients. Sometimes this is by them personally thanking me for helping them and often it is seeing them improve with treatment I have given them. One of the most fulfilling aspects of my job though is helping menopausal women. To see women be transformed from a person who can no longer function and think clearly, who is shattered from constantly disturbed nights’ sleeps and who is having dreadful mood swings to a person who is back to functioning normal with more confidence, better relationships with their partner and having the “joie de vie” returned to them is wonderful!
So, with all this in mind I decided to set up my own menopause clinic so I can see and treat women who are not my patients where I work as a GP. Women can simply self-refer and come and see me to discuss their need for treatment and how HRT may help them to get their lives back during this often traumatic time in their lives. The response already has been so positive – it is such an exciting journey for me.
I realise that not all women will want to or be able to come and see me in my clinic. This website has been designed to try and empower you with information about your menopause and the treatments available so you can hopefully then have more knowledge and confidence to approach your own GP to ask for help. I also want my website to help other healthcare professionals to be able to access important guidelines and articles about the menopause, so that their experience and knowledge of the menopause can improve and they can also help you too.