Pat found a few simple lifestyle changes made her menopause symptoms easier to manage.
Pat was 44 when she realised she had started missing a few Periods . "It didnt bother me at first, as I lead quite a stressful life," she says. "But after a while, I also started getting really bad PMT when I did have a period. It was awful."
Pat decided to keep a diary charting her periods and how she felt generally. She kept it for six months. Looking backat it, she suspected that she was starting to go through the menopause. Shewent to her GP and discussed the best course of action.
"My GP is a woman, so I felt comfortable discussing things with her," she says. "At that point, I didnt feel I needed any medication. I just wanted information about what was happening to me and how I could manage it."
Soon afterwards, Pat began to experience hot flushes. "They're awful," she shudders. "Lots of women think theyre having a panic attack when they have their first one, and I can see why. I certainly did. I get a feeling of intense pressure in my upper chest, then my face starts to feel like its on fire. Then my face and upper chest turn red. Some women also get palpitations , though luckily I dont.
"The attacks come on at any time. I work in a shop, so its very embarrassing when one comes on as Im talking to a customer. Luckily, there are lots of women where I work, many of a certain age, and we all support each other."
Pats currently considering whether to try hormone replacement therapy (HRT) . "If my symptoms get worse, Ill certainly give it a go," she says. "I want to read up on it and make sure I know all my options. At the moment, however, Ive made some small changes which make a big difference. For example, I never used to eat breakfast, as I have three kids and a husband to sort out! But now I make sure I have a cereal bar, at least. I have a proper lunch with brown bread to keep my blood sugar levels steady as well."
Menopause is a fact of life, says Pat, and shes determined to manage her condition. "I have bad days," she admits. "Its difficult for my husband sometimes, as well. He says he never knows whether Im going to wake up nice or nasty. But theres no need for women to suffer menopausal symptoms in silence, like our mothers and grandmothers did. Educate yourself and youll find theres a lot of help out there."
The menopause is when a woman stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally. Read more about the symptoms, causes and treatments.
Find out about the different symptoms of the menopause, including hot flushes, night sweats, loss of libido, a change in monthly periods and vaginal dryness.
Read about the main treatments for symptoms of the menopause, including hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and the alternatives.