Irish woman who suffered early menopause at 27 tells of treatment that saved her life


A young woman who suffered early menopause aged 27 has revealed how hormone treatment saved her life.

Kathy Haskins is one of a group of women who have said they were misdiagnosed by doctors and how little is still known about the condition.

Experts say there is little research on the link between menopause and mental health, with 52 now the average age for women who die by suicide.

Read more:Fit and healthy Irish woman diagnosed with breast cancer at 27 says her ‘world has fallen apart’

For Dubliner Kathy, the problems started when she was half that age.

She revealed: “I was 27 or 28 when I started having severe symptoms. I didn’t sleep from 28 to 30.

“And then when I slept, I only slept for three hours. The sweats were absolutely violent.

“Anxiety kicked in horribly and I had suicidal thoughts, but menopause never crossed my mind.

“I thought I was just sick, something was really wrong. I tried to ask for help but couldn’t get help.

“My GP gave me Valium and he didn’t take me seriously.”

Kathy went to her partner’s GP who prescribed the estrogen patch and the improvement was immediate.

She said: ‘I started this on a Thursday morning and on Thursday night I slept for 10 hours after almost 20 months of almost no sleep.

“It was so nice. After three weeks, my symptoms had completely stopped.

Menopause specialist Dr Deirdre Lundy reveals in RTE’s documentary The Change: Ireland’s Menopause Story how important hormone replacement is for those suffering at such a young age.

Deirdre Lundy

“Some people are born genetically predisposed to very, very early hormone loss. We call this premature ovarian failure and it’s an important medical condition,” says Dr. Lundy.

“When you’re under 40 and you’re losing your natural hormone levels, you need those hormones [replaced].

“The risks are small compared to the benefits you will get from using them.

“The risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, certain types of dementia goes away if you don’t replace this hormone after losing it too young.”

Experts say there could be up to 40 different symptoms of menopause affecting the brain, heart, skin, sex organs, joints, and emotional well-being.

“The hot flashes and sweats may not seem like a big deal, but it’s a whole-body experience,” says Dr. Lundy.

Although doctors regularly prescribed HRT drugs for menopause in the 1990s, a false link to breast cancer has fallen out of favor with the medical profession and only in recent years has it begun to make his return.

“The headlines incorrectly suggested that using hormones to control your menopausal symptoms would give you breast cancer. It clearly doesn’t,” says Dr. Lundy.

“So after happily being able to offer some hormonal relief to very sick patients in the 90s and early 2000s, literally overnight, in 2002, you just couldn’t give a hormone.

“People just disappeared. The amount of damage caused simply cannot be quantified.

A woman nearing menopause, Shirley, 48, has told how her own mother Mary couldn’t get the help she needed and took her own life.

“With my mom, the red flag was never raised. No one said, ‘Hormones? Menopause? Oh, that’s what’s wrong, we’ll take a look at it,'” Shirley said.

“It was this remedy, this remedy, and then it spiraled and spiraled to where there was no going back for her.

“I’m 49 this year and I feel like it might hit hard and my mum is a big part of that.

“She was 51 when she started noticing her sleep was changing. She was tired, things weren’t working properly, so she decided to see her GP.

“He decided to put her on a sleeping pill. It didn’t work and it kept going on and on.

“She was told she had depression. Back then, 14 years ago, people would have thought depression was a crazy disease.

“We went to see another doctor, a psychologist, but between the jigs and the reels nothing really worked and unfortunately she committed suicide.

“You would do anything to get her back. If I can only save maybe one person who is feeling bad right now…don’t accept the first answer you get. Ask for a second opinion.

*The Change: Ireland’s Menopause Story is on RTE One Monday at 9.35pm.

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