“I’m a Wednesday and Sunday person. Don’t laugh, but I start to condition my hair deeply, put on a face pack and change the HRT patch. It’s all self-care at once.”
51-year-old Adelle Martin sits in the pub she runs in Rochester, Kent, showing us the HRT patches she attaches to her hip twice a week.
Now postmenopausal, he guides other women through a phase in life that can be extremely challenging.
Adelle’s menopause symptoms started very early when she was only 39 and working in finance. She went through the same menopause three years later and says the experience affected everything in her life.
“It was like I was disappearing into me – I could be really, really crying or really, really grumpy and that was really hard for the people around me.
“When I was at work and with my team, I had to try hard not to cry and not to scream.”
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He lost his confidence, suffered from mood swings and “brain fog”. He also had the classic symptom associated with menopause: the hot flash.
“It’s the hottest sensation ever. What people see is sweat. For me it was burning and tightening in the chest and the feeling of suffocating at times and wanting to get out.”
Adelle says she also experienced one of the 34 strangest symptoms of menopause: the sensation of receiving electric shocks.
She laughs. “It was pretty funny”
Overall, what was happening to her was far from funny.
His voice begins to crack as he remembers taking time out of work.
“The hardest thing was looking in the mirror and not recognizing yourself and that’s what led me out of the meeting room.
“The confidence was gone, I always felt warm, my skin, my hair … everything was missing. I felt like I was completely lost. At the time I didn’t know what it was. It was menopause.”
Relief came when Adelle asked to be on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) which, she says, stopped her hot flashes and helped her think more clearly.
Nine years later, she still uses the patches to protect herself from any possible weakening of her bones.
Each prescription costs £ 9.35 on the NHS. Adelle currently gets a box every three months, but before she paid for it every month before asking her GP for a longer prescription.
He has a patch that contains two hormones: estrogen and progesterone. Some women have to buy them separately, which means they pay twice.
In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, prescriptions are free on the NHS.
Labor MP Carolyn Harris has presented a bill on private members to Parliament asking for it to be extended to England as well.
He acknowledges that HRT is “not for everyone,” but says there should be choice.
“We are talking about the 51% of the population who suffer from it and need the choices to make this decision if they want hormone replacement therapy.”
He presented the bill as part of a broader menopause awareness campaign.
“It’s not just about HRT, it’s about education, it’s about employment, it’s about relationships, it’s about sharing, it’s about talking about it.”
The bill certainly led Westminster to talk about menopause.
Health Minister Maria Caulfield has promised it will be a priority in the government’s next women’s health strategy.
He’s engaged in a debate to celebrate World Menopause Month.
Several female MPs had previously shared their personal experiences, symptoms and everything in between.
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With millions of women eligible, the cost of making HRT free in England would be significant.
It is not just menopausal women who have to pay for prescriptions regularly. Even in England, people with long-term health problems have campaigned for their drugs to go free.
The Prescription Charges Coalition is a group of 51 organizations calling on the government to eliminate charges for those with long-term conditions.
Coalition president Laura Cockram says the cost of purchasing multiple items can prove difficult. “If you’re someone who has Parkinson’s, you might be on eight or nine medications every month, so it’s really expensive to live with a long-term condition like that,” he says.
“You can buy a prepayment certificate – for three months it costs just over £ 30. For 12 months, it costs just over £ 108. But some people have told us, particularly those with long term terms, that it is actually a lot of money to be found to pay that initial cost. “
According to the Menopause Charity, only 12% of postmenopausal women in the UK take HRT.
Some argue that misinformation and lack of knowledge can be more of a barrier to women than a cost.
A flawed study conducted in the United States in the early 2000s led to misleading publicity about the possible risks of HRT, which is still blamed by some for putting women off taking it.
The government says it is “crucial” that menopause is “taken seriously and that women get the support they need.”
She says she is “deeply committed to ensuring that women are able to access high-quality menopause treatment, including hormone replacement therapy, which can be a lifeline for women experiencing severe symptoms.”
Limited drug exports “to protect NHS patients”
- October 2, 2019
Medical leaders are calling for action for HRT deficiency
- 24 August 2019
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