CASE STUDY: Liz Bewick, GP ‘Brushed me off’ with Menopause Symptoms
CASE STUDY: LIZ BEWICK
Occupation: Retired (former registered nurse)
GP ‘BRUSHED ME OFF’ WHEN I SOUGHT HELP FOR THE MENOPAUSE
When retired nurse Liz Bewick started with menopausal symptoms, she sought help from her GP.
Suffering from hot flushes, disturbed sleep, lack of energy and hallucinations, the mum of two thought her doctor would be able to recommend treatment that could help manage the symptoms and get her life back on track. But it was only when Liz’s doctor told her she couldn’t help that she decided to take action herself.
Said Liz, who is married and lives in Sheffield: “I knew I was getting symptoms about 10 years ago. I had mood swings, terrible hot flushes and low energy. I also had visual hallucinations where I’d see things out of the corner of my eye. It kind of creeps up on you – I just knew I didn’t feel myself but I just put up with it for years. I had retired early but actually thought there was no way I could have done my job as a nurse if I was still working when I went through the menopause.
“I never go to the doctors but a few years ago I went about something else and mentioned that I was starting with menopausal symptoms. She just said ‘oh we don’t do that here’. I was quite shocked but thought ‘oh right, fair enough’ I will have to try and sort this out myself.”
Liz sought help from a private GP in Sheffield who prescribed her synthetic HRT, which stopped the hot flushes but didn’t really address the other symptoms she was suffering from.
Explained Liz: “The private GP didn’t really know what to give me and I think because he was a man that didn’t help. He just said ‘what do you want?’ when I was asking about treatment which was a bit strange. He didn’t do my bloods to check my hormone levels and gave me HRT which did help for a while. But in the end, I came off it because it wasn’t really working.”
After stopping the synthetic HRT, Liz’s symptoms came back and she set about seeking specialist help. It was only when she found out about an online menopause clinic – the first in the UK – that she managed to get the right help.
“I started searching for menopause specialists last year but like so many private doctors, they were all in London. Then I found the Online Menopause Centre which was ideal as it was all done virtually and it didn’t matter where you lived.
“It’s been absolutely fantastic. Dr Laila from the Online Menopause Centre is a real expert and knows what she’s doing because it’s her area of expertise.
“She took the time to ask me about my symptoms and medical and family history and OMC organised blood tests at a clinic near to where I live. The blood tests showed that some of my hormone levels were very low – estrogen, DHEA, progesterone and testosterone. I was also low in vitamin D, which explained why I had been getting a lot of joint pain.
After being prescribed a personalised prescription of biologically identical hormone replacement therapy, Liz’s symptoms gradually subsided and within three months she felt back to normal.
Around 13 million women in the UK are currently perimenopausal (the period leading up to the menopause) 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.
Liz now wants other women to be empowered to seek help and not just put up with menopausal symptoms that are ruining their lives.
“We’ve been taught in this country to just suck it up. Many of my friends have the same story – going to their GP and not being signposted to a specialist. You don’t get signposted until you’re desperate – you’ve literally got to be on your knees and bleeding like a stuck pig.
“Realistically, the NHS is great for when you’re seriously ill but it can’t do everything. I really would urge women to take control of their own bodies and go to a specialist. It isn’t expensive – because OMC is online and there is no expensive London clinic it is actually affordable. My medication costs less than £2 a day, which is less than a cup of coffee. When you put it like that it really is value for money.”
 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)