Age at interview: 50
Diagnosis: Medically-induced Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI) (following treatment for endometriosis)
Age at diagnosis: 33
Background: Linda works full-time as a consultant, and lives in a regional town with her partner and child. She is from an English and Scottish background.
About Linda: In her early 30s, Linda underwent a hysterectomy and an oophorectomy for endometriosis. She began taking Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) soon after but stopped when she was diagnosed with hormone sensitive breast cancer at 39. Linda’s hot flushes and poor sleep have been ‘incredibly frustrating’ and she focuses on diet and regular exercise to deal with her early menopause symptoms.
More about Linda: Linda experienced pain since the start of her menstrual periods. Over time, the pain ‘worsened’ and in her early 20s, a laparoscopy revealed she had severe endometriosis. After having the endometriosis surgically removed several times and following the birth of her daughter, Linda decided to have a hysterectomy and an oophorectomy in her early 30s. She recalled that before her surgery she received information about what would happen afterwards, including symptoms of premature menopause, but what ‘stuck with [her]’ was ‘the inability to have further children.’
To help alleviate her early menopause symptoms, which included hot flushes and night sweats, Linda began taking Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). However, she had to stop taking it at 39, when she was diagnosed with oestrogen-sensitive breast cancer. Linda’s treatment for breast cancer included a mastectomy and chemotherapy. Following cancer treatment, she experienced ‘full early menopause’ symptoms; she now also has low bone density.
Living in a regional area, Linda has found it difficult to find health practitioners to help with her early menopause symptoms. She described a ‘lack of service coordination,’ which makes it challenging to receive holistic care for her co-occurring heath conditions, including a heart condition. Over the years, Linda tried traditional Chinese medicine, naturopathy, and homeopathy but ‘didn’t really find relief’ from her symptoms. She deals with her symptoms by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, using a cool mat under her pillow to alleviate night sweats, and wearing layers. Linda also has poor sleep and feels ‘disempowered’ by her lack of options to help ease her symptoms.
Linda explained that the hysterectomy and oophorectomy had a significant impact on her ‘sexual identity,’ while the mastectomy changed her ‘physical appearance’ and ‘feminine identity.’ Cancer treatment also had ‘huge’ financial impacts as she had to leave her job and start her own business. Linda has found it difficult to ‘rely on other people’ for help, but she described having ‘really good friends’ and a neighbour who provided support.
Linda wishes that she had been given more advice on how the treatments for endometriosis and cancer would ‘impact other areas of [her] life’ and she advised health practitioners to ‘look at things holistically.’ She also encouraged women with similar experiences to seek a second opinion and be as ‘informed as you can be.’ For Linda, it is important to have friends to share experiences with and to remember that hot flushes and night sweats ‘will pass.’