Age at interview: 47
Diagnosis: Spontaneous early menopause
Age at diagnosis: 42
Background: Maddy works full-time as a test manager, and lives in a metropolitan city with her partner. She is from a British background.
About Maddy: Maddy began experiencing urinary incontinence and poor sleep in her late 30s. She also missed periods and had headaches and night sweats. After blood tests, she was diagnosed with spontaneous early menopause. As Maddy experienced migraines from oestrogen patches, she decided to take bioidentical compounded hormones. She also focuses on exercise and eating a healthy diet, and sees a counsellor.
More about Maddy: In her late 30s, Maddy began to experience urinary incontinence and poor sleep. She also missed a period and would wake up ‘hot in the night.’ Unsure what these symptoms meant, Maddy went to see her GP who did some blood tests, however the results were inconclusive. Her GP suggested she take antidepressants, ‘thinking there was something wrong with [her]’ but Maddy decided not to, because she felt antidepressants would not help her symptoms.
Maddy missed more periods, and began suffering from frequent headaches and night sweats, leading her to see an endocrinologist who gave her an oestrogen patch. However, after experiencing a ‘massive migraine,’ Maddy stopped using the patch. She began to feel ‘depressed’ by her symptoms, finding the fatigue and ‘brain fog’ that resulted from poor sleep particularly difficult. Maddy visited another GP who did further blood tests and confirmed she was ‘in menopause,’ though did not deliver the diagnosis in a ‘compassionate or caring’ way.
Following her diagnosis, and due to the migraines she experienced while using the oestrogen patch, Maddy decided to take bioidentical compounded hormones, explaining this ‘just felt right for [her].’ It took Maddy ‘a little while to get the treatment right’ and experience ‘balance’ from the hormone therapy. She also tried acupuncture prior to taking bioidentical compounded hormones, but felt ‘it didn’t do enough’ to alleviate her symptoms. In addition to taking hormone therapy, seeing a counsellor and doing meditation, she exercises regularly, eats a healthy diet, and takes vitamin B and magnesium supplements to protect her bone and heart health.
The impact of early menopause on Maddy has been significant; she explained her relationship with her partner was affected as she felt ‘tired, depressed and physically hot [and] dry. Maddy also described feeling ‘aged overnight’ and that her choice to have children had been ‘taken away.’ Her symptoms had a financial impact as she was a contractor at the time, so if she took time off she missed out on income.
For Maddy, health practitioners need to take a ‘holistic approach’ and consider the impact of early menopause on women’s ‘family, career and … future.’ She also encouraged women experiencing early menopause to do research on their symptoms, ‘find a doctor who specialises in women’s [health]’ and ‘get counselling.’ Maddy described feeling ‘really lucky’ to have a supportive partner and, as her partner is now pregnant, feels that ‘a baby in [their] home will be good.’
 ‘Bioidentical’ refers to hormones that are the same as the body naturally produces; these are now available as part of conventional HRT (oestradiol and micronized progesterone). Specialist medical societies relevant to menopause and the USA Federal Drug Agency do not recommend the use of bioidentical compounded hormone therapy. For more information, see https://www.menopause.org.au/hp/information-sheets/212-bioidentical-hormones-for-menopausal-symptoms.