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.
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.
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.