EMW04 (Jessica)

Name: Jessica
Age at interview: 47
Diagnosis: Spontaneous Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI)
Age at diagnosis: 39

Background: Jessica works full-time in higher education. She lives with her partner and their two children in a regional town. Jessica is from a British background.

About Jessica: Jessica was 39 when she was diagnosed with spontaneous POI. She experienced hot flushes for ‘a couple of years’ but rarely gets them now, and has not taken Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Jessica has some concerns about the long-term health implications of early menopause.

More about Jessica: When Jessica was 39, she began experiencing long gaps between her menstrual periods before they stopped altogether. She visited her GP and was told that a blood test indicated that she was ‘post-menopausal.’ At the time, Jessica was very busy as she was working full-time and had two children in primary school, and she did not give the blood test result or the end of her periods much thought.

Jessica experienced hot flushes in the first few years following her diagnosis of POI and learned to ‘wear layers that you could just rip off.’ However, the hot flushes subsided and she ‘very rarely’ gets them now. Jessica said she had not been advised to take HRT by her GP and didn’t know ‘the details’ of what it was.

Jessica described thinking of her body as doing ‘what nature wanted it to do,’ just ‘a few years earlier’ than for other people. Rather than experiencing a ‘huge feeling of loss,’ not having her period brought a sense of ‘freedom.’ She expressed concern, however, about a lack of advice from health practitioners about monitoring her bone density for increased risk of osteoporosis following POI. She attributed this to an absence of a ‘big push’ by medical bodies or the government.

For Jessica, spontaneous POI has had little impact on her relationship with her partner. She felt that because she already had two children and her symptoms were not distressing, the impact of POI ‘was reduced in its intensity.’ Jessica described herself and her partner as ‘very pragmatic’ and said that they did not spend much time reflecting on her diagnosis. The possibility that her daughter would experience POI was ‘in the back of [her] mind,’ however, and something Jessica thought she may need to discuss with her ‘at some point.’ Though she would have been happy to share her experiences of POI with her friends, they were not yet going through menopause themselves and therefore ‘couldn’t associate’ with her experiences.

Jessica would like to see bone density checks on the ‘national agenda’ and to be ‘fully informed’ about age-related issues that can occur after menopause. However, instead of having information ‘forced’ on her by health practitioners, she would prefer to access this via a ‘reliable, professional website.’ While recognising the impact POI can have on fertility, Jessica encourages women with similar experiences to not ‘let it rule [their] life’ and to ‘take back control.’