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Hot flashes and heart palpitations first led me to consult my GP just over three years ago, but after a few routine tests showed that my heart was fine and that I had no nutrient deficiencies, my GP put it down to “anxiety”, case closed.
After that my hot flashes were getting worse. They quickly became part of my everyday life, seeming to occur at the most random times – on the tube, during work meetings, whilst chilling at home on the sofa, winding down while I tried to go to sleep. I felt completely out of control. I also started to struggle with the other side effects: mood swings, restlessness, irritability, a lack of energy, vertigo, fatigue, and hair loss, to mention a few. It was difficult to explain how I felt to my friends when I barely knew what was going on myself.
Through many months of confusion, I insisted on further tests. A friend suffering with similar symptoms had been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and, when my periods failed to return after having my contraceptive coil removed, I knew there was something wrong, that couldn’t just be put down to anxiety. Finally, two years after my symptoms started, a blood test confirmed that my hormone levels were menopausal.
At 30, I was officially experiencing premature ovarian failure (POF) – otherwise also known as early menopause. It was a life-changing diagnosis, to say the least, but it was also oddly reassuring to finally know what was “wrong” with me.
I got the first phone call about 2 weeks after my first blood test, then had a talk with my GP and they’ve told me about their findings. They referred me to a Menopause clinic, where I first had a few scans to check there were no abnormalities that could have caused the Early Menopause, followed by a conversation with one of the doctors that decided it’s safest to do another blood test to confirm the Early Menopause before starting any form of treatment. I technically feel like I was diagnosed twice, but before finding out the confirming results of the second blood test, my gut feeling already told me that the first blood test was already right, so being told we needed to confirm it didn’t give me many hopes of it resulting in anything different.
It’s difficult to define what’s been helpful and what not - there are so many different symptoms and they all come up irregularly and unexpectedly, so it’s difficult to know, if anything aids or if the hormones just shifted again. Our bodies are definitely complex systems!
A few things that I personally feel have helped me are that I completely stopped drinking alcohol 18 months ago - it’s massively helped with my energy levels since! Also reducing caffeine to a minimum and focusing on my sleep quality. I use CBD oil and blue light blocking glasses to improve my sleep quality and have been for months (and it’s been a game-changer!)
Apart from this, I would recommend anyone with hormonal imbalances to work with a nutritionist specialised in hormonal health. I’ve done so in the past year (I’ve worked with Rachel Aust online) and have since found a good balance in my eating habits, that is sustainable and also giving me better energy levels throughout my days.
Personally, I feel I’m getting on well with my HRT, though it’s taken months for my body to get used to it and for the symptoms to become less frequent. I’ve been on HRT for 11 months now - I use a mixture of a hormonal coil (something I’ve already had prior, so this wasn’t new to me) and an estrogen gel that I have to apply daily. The HRT is quite simple as I don’t need to remember to take any complicated medication apart from the gel that I apply to my skin once daily, so it doesn’t affect my day-to-day life that massively.
I’m glad I’ve chosen this combination, but feel it’s taken my body a good few months to get used to the treatment and feel more balanced. I feel it’s important to note that this is just the treatment that’s currently working for me - it might be entirely different for someone else, or also my body could change in the future and not work well with this type anymore. I’m taking it as it comes and won’t try to fix anything whilst it’s working okay for me.
For me, it has really been a wakeup call - on the one hand, understanding that my body will not forever be functioning as I want it to (something we easily forget when we’re young) and on the other hand that it’s important to listen to my body more and take more care of how I feel inside and out.
Speak to your GP! Be open about the symptoms you're experiencing, because
only then it’s possible for your doctor to do the right tests and give you the right
kind of treatment.
Whenever I speak to people about Early Menopause, I feel it’s still mostly unknown that this condition exists. It would be great if it was more widely understood, and also understood what kind of symptoms can go alongside it. Menopause is not the same for everyone, and besides the physical symptoms it can take a strain on your mental health as well - I’m still finding it difficult to explain to friends, who are not affected when I’m having an unmotivated, low-energy day for no reason, as they simply can’t relate.
Thank you, Romy, for chatting with us and sharing your experience with early menopause. We hope this helps spread awareness about early menopause and the impact it can have on many young women around the world.
You can find Romy on Instagram here. ✨
Shani Kaplan is a contributing writer for Truth Naturals. She combines her knowledge gained from working within the fitness/wellness industry in Sydney and London for the last seven years as a Personal Trainer, and class instructor, with her addiction to research due to her BA in Business Marketing. Shani loves martial arts, resistance training, dance and yoga, nutrition, travel, design, photography, and art.