Age at interview: 28
Diagnosis: Spontaneous Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI)
Age at diagnosis: 25
Background: Lorena studies and works part-time, and lives in a metropolitan city with her housemates. She is from an Italian, Portuguese and German background.
About Lorena: When Lorena was 23, her gynaecologist advised her that she had ‘small’ ovaries and to stop taking the birth control pill, following which she began experiencing hot flushes and vaginal dryness. After seeing several doctors, she was diagnosed with spontaneous Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI) at age 25. Lorena began taking Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) to help her symptoms. Although it took some time to find the correct HRT dosage, her menopausal symptoms have now stopped.
More about Lorena: After a check-up with her gynaecologist at age 23 in her home country in South America, Lorena was told that her ovaries were ‘small’ and was advised to stop taking the oral contraceptive pill. She recalled that her menstrual periods had always been irregular, but when she stopped taking the pill, her periods stopped. Lorena also began experiencing menopausal symptoms, including vaginal dryness and hot flushes, which made her ‘really stressed.’
Lorena sought help from several different doctors but felt they were ‘completely lost’ and could not assist her. At age 25, she consulted a fertility specialist who did further tests and diagnosed her with spontaneous premature menopause. The diagnosis was a shock to Lorena; she described it as ‘complicated to accept,’ particularly because the results from tests to determine the cause were inconclusive.
Finding information on premature menopause was difficult and Lorena said that she ‘didn’t know [the condition] was possible.’ She was prescribed Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for her symptoms, but it took some time to find the correct dose, which significantly impacted her mood. The combination of premature menopause symptoms and side-effects from different HRT dosages led to Lorena losing two jobs.
After travelling for a year and feeling ‘more stable’ with HRT, Lorena decided to study in Australia. She currently has an intrauterine device (IUD) with progesterone and uses an oestrogen gel, which she described as ‘amazing’ as they make her feel ‘normal again.’
Premature menopause significantly impacted Lorena emotionally, particularly in relation to the loss of fertility. She explained that it affected her family as she is an only child and her parents ‘really wanted grandchildren.’ In addition, her boyfriend ended their relationship because ‘he really wanted kids.’ Lorena also felt ‘scared’ by the long-term implications of her diagnosis, such as osteoporosis. To help protect her bones, she exercises and has bone density checks regularly. To deal with the emotional impact of her diagnosis, Lorena saw a psychologist for about three years, which she found ‘helpful.’
Although initially hesitant to discuss premature menopause with friends, Lorena said they had been supportive, and she is grateful to her parents who ‘did everything they could’ for her. She advises health practitioners to take women’s menopausal symptoms seriously rather than assuming they are ‘exaggerating.’ She also encouraged other women with similar experiences to seek a second opinion if needed. While having children is not ‘a priority anymore’ for Lorena, she is open to adopting a child in the future. Lorena now focuses on having ‘a good life’ and taking care of her health.