CASE STUDY: Joanne Lindsey, Severe Menopause Symptoms
CASE STUDY: JOANNE LINDSEY
Occupation: Primary School Teacher
SEVERE MENOPAUSE SYMPTOMS MADE ME WORRY I WAS GRAVELY ILL
When school teacher Joanne Lindsey started mixing up her words and having ‘brain fog’, she worried there was something seriously wrong with her.
Concerned for her health, the 47-year-old mum of two, who was also experiencing symptoms of low energy, bone aches and generally not feeling herself, decided to seek medical help.
After blood tests, Joanne’s GP prescribed HRT but within months the symptoms returned and her doctor was unable to recommend alternative forms of treatment. It was only when Joanne found out about an online menopause clinic – the first in the UK – that she managed to get relief from her symptoms.
Explained Joanne, who lives in Warwickshire: “I noticed that I was lacking energy and cognitively I didn’t feel as sharp as normal. My degree is in English Literature and Language and yet I was struggling to find words – just silly things like forgetting my keys or I’d be having a conversation with someone and they would say ‘you’ve just used the wrong word’ or I couldn’t grasp the word I wanted to use. Because I’m very independent and have always felt confident in my academic and conversing abilities it really unnerved me. To go from being linguistically confident to stumbling across words was scary.
“I was also getting quite bad bone ache – I went from running four or five times a week to not being able to get off the settee. Luckily at this time I wasn’t teaching due to the first lockdown. However I knew it was essential that in the interest of my own self-care, along with the responsibility that I have to my sons, that I made sure that I visited the GP for a check-up.
“Blood tests showed my hormones indicated I was perimenopausal. The doctor prescribed HRT and that was ok for a few months but then I started to get really tired again and my hand joints were very stiff. The doctors even gave me tests for rheumatoid arthritis but they came back clear. I asked for blood tests to see if I was getting the right amount of hormones as I thought they needed topping up but the doctor said there was no point as my hormones would still be fluctuating.”
Joanne decided to take action herself and started to research menopause specialists, which led her to the Online Menopause Centre (OMC). After a virtual consultation with one of the clinic doctors who diagnosed perimenopause – the period leading up to the menopause – Joanne was prescribed an individually tailored treatment plan that helped her return to normal within weeks.
She explained: “Seeing Dr Laila at OMC was amazing – she listened to me and for the first time I felt heard. She was just so personable and was interested in me and my history. My oestrogen levels were fine but my progesterone and testosterone were low. The progesterone that was in the HRT prescribed by my GP was the synthetic version.
“I was prescribed a bespoke prescription of biologically identical hormone replacement therapy and it was amazing – within weeks my energy and clarity of thought were better and my bones weren’t aching.”
Added Joanne, who is also studying a post graduate course: “I felt like I’d had the oil put back in my engine. I’m so thankful as it’s been a really busy year with teaching and studying so it was essential that I was receiving the correct hormone levels to help me function to my best abilities. I was also able to start exercising again, which has always been a passion of mine.
“The fact that OMC is online is brilliant – you can access it wherever you live in the UK.”
Around 13 million women in the UK are currently perimenopausal or menopausal – equivalent to a third of the entire female population – and its impact can be severely debilitating. Symptoms range from hot flushes/night sweats, headaches, sleep problems and joint pains to anxiety, poor memory, low self-confidence and loss of libido.
Joanne now wants other women to seek help for their symptoms and not just suffer in silence.
“It worries me that there are a lot of women out there just putting up with this without access to information about the effects of perimenopause and menopause. I have heard of women who have given up jobs because their symptoms are just too much. Yet at the age of perimenopause/menopause women have worked hard for years and have so much to offer after gaining all that experience and knowledge.
“Unfortunately, a lot of HRT is ‘one size fits all’ which isn’t ideal as every woman is different and hormones are such an individual thing. I’d strongly urge other women to seek specialist help if they aren’t getting anywhere with their GP. I pay roughly £20 a month for my HRT prescription, and the effect for me has been extremely beneficial and certainly worth it.
“As my mother died in her 30s, I have always seen time as a gift. The time of perimenopause/menopause felt like a milestone in my case as I am also lucky enough to have two healthy sons. Therefore, psychologically the idea of the menopause seemed like a natural, organic rite of passage. However the physical side of this transition all felt very alien to me as I had always been so bubbly, energetic and sporty. The bespoke HRT that Laila prescribed for me has certainly brought all of those qualities back to my everyday life, qualities that I took for granted before. My hope is that all women can get access to the essential care they need during the perimenopause/menopause to help them to lead fulfilling and active lives.”
 Local Government Association Menopause Factfile https://local.gov.uk/our-support/workforce-and-hr-support/wellbeing/menopause/menopause-factfile#:~:text=It’s%20estimated%20that%20there%20are,the%20entire%20UK%20female%20population. (Accessed February 2021)