Great Britain
This article was added by the user Anna. TheWorldNews is not responsible for the content of the platform.

I used booze as a confidence boost – but alcoholism made my menopause symptoms worse, says Michelle Heaton

ON paper, I should have been fine – life was good and things were going well at work, but there were days when I would feel irritated at not having any energy.

I was exhausted and I lacked my usual get-up-and-go attitude. I was angry that I was so unprepared for what the menopause was like. I wish I’d asked more questions, so it wasn’t like: “Hey, here I am, surprise!”

I remember my mum Christine, now 65, having really bad migraines and hot flushes in her mid-40s and blaming it on the menopause, but it wasn’t until I decided to have a full hysterectomy in September 2014, aged 35 – two years after finding out that I had the BRCA2 cancer gene – that I really researched it.

I’d already had my daughter Faith, now nine, and son AJ, seven, by then and a double mastectomy in November 2012, but six months after AJ was born I booked in to have a hysterectomy because I was at high risk of ovarian cancer. 

Going into the operation, I knew that I would wake up and go through surgical menopause immediately and that I was going to have an implant to help – HRT with just oestrogen –  but it wasn’t until I started to get  symptoms that I really noticed the difference in myself.

For a year or two after having the hysterectomy, I was really unbalanced, I had hot flushes and felt tired. When I was in a shop or restaurant, I needed to be by the window or door to stay cool. I also had fatigue and muscle aches. My kids were young and it was hard, because I had to say: “Mummy’s tired” a lot.

My libido fell to below zero and I had vaginal dryness. I also found myself not wanting to open up to my husband Hugh [42, a businessman], and I’ve learned now that it’s very difficult for our partners, too. They want to understand, but they don’t know how to help.

After a year, I spoke to my consultant, who changed my HRT to combine it with testosterone, which helped with my libido, energy levels and to retain muscle, because I wasn’t working out much at that point. I tried vaginal gel and everything was going better.

'I wasn’t honest'

Then I started partying a lot more, wanting to prove I could still be the fun one. I felt old before my time and I used alcohol as a confidence boost. At some point alcoholism took hold of me and made the symptoms of my menopause – including hot flushes and insomnia – much worse. 

Now, I know that alcohol counteracts HRT, so I was actually experiencing full-on menopause symptoms. My doctor hadn’t been able to understand why I was feeling so groggy, because I wasn’t honest with him about my drinking at the time.

Since I became sober six months ago, HRT has begun to work, which goes to show how amazing it is when prescribed correctly. I can’t blame the menopause for anything any more, because I feel like my levels are good and my energy and sex life are all right for a 42 year old. 

Women shouldn’t feel ashamed or like we’ve let ourselves down by asking for help. We’ve got an amazing NHS system, and if you ask the right questions, you will get the right answers. We talk about periods, cramps, tampons, wings and all that, so why can’t we talk about HRT and the symptoms of menopause in the same way? It’s a part of life. 

Women shouldn’t feel ashamed or like we’ve let ourselves down by asking for help.

Michelle Heaton

I found it difficult because I was younger, so people around me weren’t experiencing it. I kept thinking: “All  I’m doing is moaning,” but actually they were just as interested to listen as I was keen to talk, because at some point they’re going to hit it, too.

It’s not an elephant in the room – the more we talk about it, the more natural it is. 

Michelle is working with, a clothing range designed to help with hot flushes and night sweats.

Fabulous Menopause Matters

Michelle Heaton discusses the Fabulous Menopause Matters campaign on Steph's Packed Lunch