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Navigating Surmeno: My Menopause by Sophie Claus

Written by Helen Prentice

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Posted on March 11 2019

We had the pleasure of meeting Sophie earlier this year and we were delighted when she modelled for us at Become™'s Menopause Picnic. We were truly inspired by her story. Sophie has had to navigate her way through surgical menopause aged just 32, after having a hysterectomy and oophorectomy earlier this year. She is still adjusting to her new body and is plagued by up to 20 hot flushes a day. She has kindly offered to share her experience of early surgical menopause with us.

Tell us a little bit about your experience, Sophie?  

Surmeno hit me like a freight train after my surgery back in February of this year. The hot flushes, night sweats and fatigue were instantaneous and the ferocity and intensity of the surgical menopause symptoms I’m experiencing have left me feeling shell shocked. So far, my surmeno journey has been difficult and at times, extremely stressful. It’s been a real battle to get the right care. I had my first post-operative appointment in the last two weeks, despite having had my hysterectomy over 8 months ago. It was such a relief to feel understood and supported, however the delay in receiving support has had a huge, immeasurable impact on my emotional wellbeing and career, which could have been avoided, if I’d been given the right support, at the right time. No woman should have to endure surmeno alone. And from speaking with women in their 20s and 30s, I understand that, sadly, I’m not alone in feeling this way.

Become Menopause Picnic

What’s it been like for you, day to day?   

At the moment, I still struggle to get through a day. The fatigue makes me feel as though I have the flu, the brain fog and memory problems mean that even the simplest of tasks can be areally onerous. This is incredibly frustrating for me as I used to be a champion multi-tasker! Since my appointment at a menopause clinic, I am beginning to see little improvements with each day that passes. My hot flushes are becoming less frequent and the night sweats have all but disappeared – proof that if the right treatment and guidance is given, women’s quality of life has the possibility of being dramatically improved.

How did you feel about facing surmeno at such a young age?

The thought of surmeno was incredibly daunting but any doubts were overridden by my longing to be endometriosis free and without the monthly rollercoaster that was premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which perhaps led me to have unrealistic expectations. On reflection, I wish I’d been given more comprehensive information and advice, I’d really recommend arming yourself with knowledge and advocating your own care.  

What have the main challenges been for you and how have you overcome them?

The main challenge has been getting the right support. I’ve found that menopause knowledge and care is incredibly inconsistent and seems to be a postcode lottery. All too often, women are given anti depressants or told to just get on with it, which is shocking considering that 50% of the female population will experience menopause! Despite visiting my surgery 19 times, I had no choice but to see a menopause specialist privately, who thankfully liaised with my GP to get an urgent referral to an NHS menopause clinic (there are only 29 in the U.K).

At a time when most of my friends are beautiful yummy mummies, I’ve felt pretty alone. My search for a menopause group locally bought no results so I decided to begin a ‘Menopause Cafe’ (a concept founded by Rachel Weiss). It’s been so lovely to meet with other women of all ages going through much the same and we often end up having a giggle. I’ve met some incredible women, who I now consider friends.

Accepting my new body has been a challenge, I’ve changed shape which has meant that I’ve had to do a wardrobe overhaul, I suddenly find myself considering fabrics – which ones are cooler, breathable and comfortable, like Become's vest. Surmeno has made me assess my lifestyle which is a huge positive as I’m making healthier choices earlier on in life, which no doubt will path the way for a happy and healthy future.

Become Menopause Event

What advice do you have for other women going through surmeno?

  •  Acceptance: This is a big struggle but it’s really important to accept and learn to love your new body.
  •  Adapt your wardrobe: Invest in cooling, anti-flush underwear and fabrics.
  •  Talk about it: You are not alone and women are stronger together 💪🏻 The Surmeno Connection and Daisy Network are brilliant.
  •  If you aren’t getting the right support: Refer to the NICE guidelines. You can request a referral to a specialist menopause clinic.
  •  Look after you: Practice self care and be kind to yourself.

How important is it for people to share their stories about the menopause?

Menopause can be frightening! The rapid drop in hormones can leave you feeling isolated and alone. Through talking about it and sharing our experiences we can not only comfort and support one another, but we can help shape a way forward and improve menopause care for women.


Huge thanks to Sophie for sharing her story with us. We’re so glad that she has found a path not only to get help for herself, but she is doing an amazing job empowering other women to do the same. Read more about her journey on Instagram. You can find a Menopause Cafe near you here.

Comments

14 Comments

  • .com

    Posted by . | December 06, 2018
  • i like to.join the group. I think im.starting a premenopouse.

    Posted by adele | December 05, 2018
  • I had LAVH and BSO nearly 3 years ago for endometriosis which I’d suffered with for years. This op left me with a rectocele and cystocele, but with no follow up couldn’t get seen by anyone for 9 months. Eventually saw a horrible man who said if you’re not incontinent go back and jump around at the gym. Got private appointment with my surgeon who confirmed prolapses. 6 months later had repair op. Nightmare. Eventually managed sex again after 5 months but very painful. Then developed LS! Changed health service areas and just had Fentons procedure as was sewn up too tight after repair. That was 3 weeks ago, now having some sort of problem again 😢 Along with Meno symptoms and numerous hrt regimes, I just feel no one can help me anymore. What’s the point?

    Posted by Louise | December 02, 2018
  • Sharing our stories is so important, l myself was finally given my hysteromy at 41. Lived with endometriosis for years without knowing. My GP fobbed me of for years. Was so poorly. Thought for years l was mad. Was so poorly during my periods. Not fun when you have young children. Dragged myself round for years. Untill one day a girl l was talking to said to ask to see a specialist, and l was suddenly being listened to. I went down theatre and once l woke he told me. I wasn’t shocked just relieved . Finally l knew l was unwell. Wasn’t in my head. Sadly l had another issue , my back. I was rushed into hospital after a MRI was given emergency surgery, but what followed after was the hardest challenge of all. Learning to walk and for years my mobility was ruined. Two operations and then my partner left me , weeks after the hysterectomy to face 6 weeks school holidays alone 😭 He lived 300 miles away. My parents tried there best. I still struggle, you wouldn’t know. I hide it. My walking has improved so much. I’m still on HRT it helps me so much. And l learnt to dress in layers so l could strip if l needed to, with my flushes. The menopause should be talked about more, it takes over your dam life, it’s lonely, l got depressed, but was clever and hid it. Rare l wake wet through. But l struggle sleeping, went years napping when l could. Because of fatigue. Still do some day’s. My hair stopped growing for years it’s lovely now 😁 gained a few pounds, but stay true to yourself I’m loosing my weight now only a dress size. Yay 12 to 14 . Can live with that! Drinking fluids is important and keeping your sweet intake down. Sugar is no good. It just drops you feel low again. I still get brain fog. Wrote to do lists. Walk or exercise if you can. 50 next March last ten years I’ve struggled, but getting there. Learn to laugh, believe me it beats the tears. And be kind to yourself. Menopause for me was horrendous. Hugs sent to all x

    Posted by Karen | December 01, 2018
  • I started going through the menopause after I was steralised, my poor husband didn’t realise or understand, I was lucky I had a fantastic gp who helped me, then I was told I would need to have a hysterectomy, I went through with the operation, no after care, I was told I wouldn’t need her, sadly the hot flushes etc all returned. Once again I had a really good gp.sadly over the years I had or have been given various hrt. I just feel that it is all wrong, we are not warned about any of the menopause.

    Posted by Lucie BILLCLIFFE | December 01, 2018
  • It’s almost in a weird kind of way to be reading theses messages as if I’m writing them all myself. For many years I have suffered with many symptoms to be told by gp that I’m far to young to be in early menopause but actually I was 48 when I first approached my gp I’ve been left to go it alone and I’m now 49 and am now on Hrt but 6months into it I’m now getting all my symptoms back when will this nightmare end and where do I go with it all now ??

    Posted by Debbie | December 01, 2018
  • Hysterectomy for fibroids and endometriosis at 42 ineffective HRT gel. Went to a private clinic 8 years later had hormone implants felt wonderful for 18 months then was diagnosed with an invasive breast cancer. I’ve survived but have had a rough time for10 years.

    Posted by Maria | December 01, 2018
  • Hysterectomy for fibroids and endometriosis at 42 ineffective HRT gel. Went to a private clinic 8 years later had hormone implants felt wonderful for 18 months then was diagnosed with an invasive breast cancer. I’ve survived but have had a rough time for10 years.

    Posted by Maria | December 01, 2018
  • I’m a little sad by this post but only because having suffered for the past eight years after having the same abdominal clearance and having been unable to take HRT, I was completely unaware that there was even a name for the after effects. I was offered no checkup after the operation and received absolutely no help, information or support. It’s been a long and extremely difficult time and as I didn’t know anyone else who had had the same, I suffered in silence. It’s still a daily struggle but it’s good to know that the struggle is being recognised. Thank you for shining a little light in the darkness x

    Posted by Linda Cameron. | December 01, 2018
  • can’t wait to join this group, 2010 I had a radical hysterectomy and bladder reconstruction …. can’t remember the last time I slept for more than 2 hours at night … I feel so drained exhausted I spend my days trying not to collapse into trears.. my GP dosn’t believe in medication for menopause (offered me fluxoten) told me to sort my life out when I sat sobbing in the surgery saying I can’t go on like this.. (apparently according to my GP it’s to late for me to have any hormone replacement or any other medication as i will be free of the menopause in the next 3 months yo two years!!!- obviously he call tell the future) I have had to reduce my hours at work because I am exhausted all the time .. I have tried every alternative product I have found ..nothing helps with sleeping, exhaustion and feeling like you whole body is on fire for about 20 hours a day. your post is amazing.. thank you xx solidity

    Posted by natalie | November 30, 2018
  • How much is it to go private to see someone a boutique menapause issues.

    Posted by Louise | November 29, 2018
  • Why should any woman have to suffer the symptoms of menopause,I have had no help,I suffer anxiety,hot flushes,no one cares.

    Posted by Liz park | November 29, 2018
  • I had my hysterectomy at 27 with one tube removed I had the seconded tube removed at 30 . Came off HRT @ 50 was told by a female doctor i had had my menopause and would feel no affects coming off HRT . Well how wrong they were . I demanded to go back on it as I could not stand the fatigue , the blanket of steam that seemed to engulf me , my joints that aches dreading the nights for lack of sleep dreading the days as I had no energy and the dark cloud that followed me never really lifting . This is real this is so not understood this can be life changing

    Posted by Lorraine Smith | November 29, 2018
  • I totally get it! I had surmeno at 39. Waking up the next morning and feeling my first flsuh was horrible! Back then, not explained what you were going to experience or very helpful on ongoing hormone replacement. I waited 2 months for appointment to discuss HRT! Even with family history of cancers the doc said he thought I should try it! There began my journey from tablets, to patches, and I felt worse. I eventually went cold turkey, tried menopace, sage tablets which helped a bit! My main embarrasing problem is head sweating! When I get hot my whole head sweats. I look like I have been swimming! The sweat runs down my face and people stare! I was prescribed Gabapentin, this does help but does leave you feeling zoned out as its meant for epilepsy! Docs are not informed enough I felt! It was a case of well this is all that is on offer. I cope the best I can and have recently embarked on a fitness regime which has helped with anxiety, weight gain, I have lost 4 and a half stone and gone from a dress size 20/22 to a size 14. I work out every day, on a cross trainer and then do yoga. I also walk twice a day as i find this also helps to clear my mind!

    Women go thru so much having a group where we can talk and have that family feeling is such a help.
    We are strong beautiful beings and this is another phase in our lives which we can embrace and change with help!
    High Five to us!
    X

    Posted by Chelle Witcomb | November 15, 2018
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