Real Stories Q&A: Amanda

Questions & Answers carried out via email, February 2021

Please could you tell us a little about your experience with endometriosis and also surgical menopause?
I’ve always had a bad relationship with my reproductive system or ‘baby-making machine’ as I called it. My mom had issues when I was younger, so it may have been in my genes.
My lower abdominal pains, chronic fatigue, low mood, low libido, aching muscles, and all the other wonderful endo symptoms started whilst I was in the British Army (my early 20s). Not a great place to get colleagues and superiors to understand ‘women’s problems’ that were invisible. The doctor just kept saying I’d pulled a muscle and gave me ibuprofen. The trouble was I knew it was more than that it was too deep, but I got nowhere.

How long did you it take you to get a diagnosis for endometriosis?
7 years in total after numerous laparoscopy investigations, removal of an ovarian cyst. The final laparoscopy showed that my endo had returned. That my womb was abnormally small, and I was infertile. I was heartbroken and needed closure of not having children. They said they could burn the endo away, but it could come back. I couldn't keep going through the operations etc. I was beaten.

Did your symptoms of endometriosis disappear or remain following your hysterectomy?
All disappeared when I met the devil’s sister called surgical menopause as I had a total hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy at 34 years of age

What were you told about surgical menopause prior to entering into it?
Haha nothing, it was 14 years ago! I was told I would go into menopause quite quickly, but I didn’t realise how quickly. That I ‘might’ get the odd symptom i.e. hot sweats, night sweats, and hot flushes ... that’s all.

Would you say your quality of life is now better or worse in surgical menopause as opposed to beforehand?
Gosh, that’s a tough one… they are 2 very different animals. My quality of life has improved as I was sleeping 14-16 hours a day when I had endo.
With surgical menopause I struggle more with my mood, my body aches all over (really bad) and now I have a bad back. I truly believe that it’s since my ‘baby-making machine’ has been taken out.
My concentration started to get worse a few years ago and my memory is shocking. I actually went to the doctor with my memory as it’s scaring me how badly I can’t retain information or remember the silliest of things. It affects my self-confidence and my partner is always shouting at me for not remembering things.

What piece of advice would you like to give to a woman considering having an hysterectomy for endometriosis?
For me the pros definitely outway the cons. Get your quality of life back. Open your mind to HRT (gel and patches much gentler) especially if you are under the ‘natural age’ of menopause as it helps protect your bones and heart, as well as, gives you backbone support to get through the other symptoms that come with surgical menopause. As the symptoms are heightened with surgical menopause, hence why I call her the devil’s sister.

What resources, websites, etc would you recommend to others wanting information and support?
Definitely join some Facebook groups, for hysterectomy and surgical menopause. If you are still in employment which a lot of women are, work with a business-like Menopause Experts in the workplace. They help you to introduce this into your workplace if there isn’t any support for menopausal women. You could be sat next to someone who is feeling just like you, but with the taboo around menopause, no one talks about it.
It’s time to talk and not hide around the taboo. I’m not ashamed to be childless not by choice or to be going through premature surgical menopause. It’s my job now to educate people of the reasons some women haven’t got children … etc

For more information on Amanda and how she now helps to educate others visit her on LinkedIn : here