I WENT THROUGH MENOPAUSE IN MY THIR­TIES

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - MARK SMITH Health cor­re­spon­dent [email protected]­line.co.uk

WHEN Jo­danna Beynon needed to un­dergo a hys­terec­tomy, it brought on the menopause at the age of just 35.

But rather than sim­ply ex­pe­ri­enc­ing hot flushes, the con­di­tion trig­gered a range of de­bil­i­tat­ing symp­toms which af­fected her men­tal and phys­i­cal well­be­ing.

Now the mum-of-one is aim­ing to re­as­sure other women go­ing through pre­ma­ture menopause that they are far from alone in their ex­pe­ri­ences.

“I want to prove to peo­ple that’s it’s not just women aged 50-plus who go through the menopause. It is ac­tu­ally younger women as well,” said Jo­danna, now 36.

“I had lots of care when it came to my [hys­terec­tomy] op­er­a­tion, but with re­gard to how the menopause af­fected me, there just wasn’t that care avail­able.”

Jo­danna, who works as a se­nior re­cruit­ment ad­viser for the Welsh NHS, needed a hys­terec­tomy af­ter can­cer cells were found in her cervix.

She un­der­went the pro­ce­dure at Sin­gle­ton Hospi­tal, Swansea, in Jan­uary, which im­me­di­ately brought on her early menopause.

“It was ab­so­lutely dous,” she re­called.

“A lot of peo­ple just think it’s hot flushes – which are un­bear­able and hard enough to go through – but it’s much more than that.

“You also get night sweats, dry­ness, and dif­fi­culty sleep­ing, which is a mas­sive thing for me. I am con­stantly ex­hausted as a re­sult.

“You also have weight gain, headaches, mood swings, thin­ning of the hair, re­duced mus­cle mass and poor con­cen­tra­tion.

“The big­gest thing for me has been my mem­ory and ‘brain fog’. I can be talk­ing to some­body, and I’m an­swer­ing them in my head, but my brain just isn’t work­ing and I can’t get the words out.

“I just stand and stare at them, and I just feel aw­ful be­cause they must think I’m be­ing in­cred­i­bly rude.”

An­other ma­jor prob­lem for Jo­danna has been the con­stant stiff­ness in her joints which she de­scribes as “like arthri­tis”.

She added: “If I’ve been sit­ting down for a while watch­ing a film with my daugh­ter and hus­band, I can’t move straight away. It’s like my body has to warm up be­fore I start walk­ing. hor­ren-

“At times I ached so much that I felt like I’d been in a car crash.”

And she ad­mit­ted that the con­di­tion has led to her suf­fer­ing bouts of anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion.

“I felt like I was the only per­son to ever have it this badly,” she said.

“Af­ter the hys­terec­tomy I felt like I’d lost a part of what it was to be a woman. All the or­gans that made me feel like a woman were taken away. The only thing I have left are my breasts.

“That’s hard for peo­ple to un­der­stand, as they are in­side the body and things you can­not see.”

To com­bat her symp­toms, Jo­danna un­der­went dif­fer­ent types of hor­mone re­place­ment ther­apy (HRT), some of which didn’t work.

“The patches didn’t work for me. They felt like a bruise wher­ever I put them on my body and I had an al­ler­gic re­ac­tion to them.

“I also tried the lit­tle sa­chets of gel, which also didn’t help. Now I’m on an­other form of HRT and so far that seems to be work­ing a lit­tle bit bet­ter.”

To help her deal with her symp­toms and low mood, Jo­danna be­gan a di­ary to doc­u­ment her thoughts.

She also found so­lace in a book writ­ten by for­mer Lib­erty X singer Michelle Heaton, called Hot Flush, who said menopause “went be­yond any com­pre­hen­sion” of what she ex­pected it to be.

As part of World Menopause Day on Oc­to­ber 18, Jo­danna de­cided to film her­self talk­ing about her sur­gi­cally-in­duced menopause – which has since been viewed more than 6,000 times.

“The re­sponse has been over- whelm­ing,” she said. “I’ve had so many mes­sages of sup­port. I even had a woman come up to me in the street who cried and gave me a big hug.

“She said she felt so alone in her own bat­tle with menopause, and that lis­ten­ing to the video made her re­alise she wasn’t go­ing loopy.

“I’m very lucky, as I have an amaz­ing fam­ily net­work around me. My hus­band and my grand­par­ents have been a mas­sive sup­port.”

She is now call­ing on the Welsh NHS to of­fer more men­tal sup­port to peo­ple who ex­pe­ri­ence early menopause.

A Welsh Gov­ern­ment spokesper­son said: “It is im­por­tant that se­ri­ous health is­sues af­fect­ing women are dealt with ef­fec­tively and ap­pro­pri­ately.

“We take this very se­ri­ously and have com­mis­sioned a group of ex­perts in this area to look at a range of is­sues re­lat­ing to women’s re­pro­duc­tive health and their well-be­ing.”

‘It was hor­ren­dous’ – Jo­danna Beynon, 36, went into pre­ma­ture menopause fol­low­ing a hys­terec­tomy

Jo­danna with her hus­band Daniel and daugh­ter Izo­belle

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