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Menopause and Me: Caithness woman says 'I was told I'm too young to have menopause and to suck it up'

By Annabelle Gauntlett

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Kirsteen Campbell talks about the impact menopause had on her life
Kirsteen Campbell talks about the impact menopause had on her life

A Caithness woman dismissed by her doctor for years for being "too young" to have menopause has talked about how she created a network set to empower women across the Highlands since sharing her story.

Kirsteen Campbell (43), from Caithness, was diagnosed with perimenopause when she was 37, however for years she was dismissed by her doctors despite experiencing drastic physical and emotional changes that had a detrimental affect to her day-to-day life.

From the age of 15, Kirsteen endured excruciating pain caused by endometriosis.

Endometriosis is a disease in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus.

Due to the complexity of her condition, Kirsteen was forced to have a hysterectomy at the age of 26.

She said: "After getting my life back due to the surgery for a while, I became perimenopausal around 10 years later, although it was very difficult to get anyone to acknowledge that I was perimenopausal at the time because I was classed as being too young, which I think is ridiculous, but now I am in a surgical menopause after having my ovaries removed."

Whilst most people associate menopause with hot flushes, Kirsteen experienced the opposite, instead she had cold flushes.

She said: "I used to go severely cold, and it was to the bone cold, it was awful."

In addition to the cold flushes, Kirsteen also experienced an extreme case of brain fog and anxiety.

She said: "I wasn't making any sense and I was mixing up my words all the time.

"The anxiety was so unfamiliar as I had never been an anxious person in my whole life, so it was really difficult to take that on as a symptom."

Since transitioning into a surgical menopause, Kirsteen has been left feeling incredibly fatigued, and has struggled to regain the energy she used to have in order to complete day-to-day tasks, like walking.

She said: "I was never offered anything when I was perimenopausal, it was just a case of telling me I was too young and to suck it up!

"I just put myself on vitamins and after completing my surgical menopause I was going to start HRT, but I felt so good that I decided to go down the herbal route.

"I am a little bit wary of taking HRT as oestrogen grows endometriosis, so if I did decide to take it I would need to be really careful and make sure its combined with progesterone."

In light of this, Kirsteen started a Facebook group a few years ago, known as the North Highland Women's Wellness Hub and it has grown to a community with hundreds of members.

The group offers advice, peer support, group activities and most importantly a community, so that women in the Highlands don't feel so isolated due to this natural change.

Kirsteen is keen for menopause to be introduced as a mandatory subject to be taught in all schools, in addition to GPs and medical students to ensure that future generations aren't misdiagnosed for years and dismissed due to the lack of knowledge and understanding surrounding this sector of women's health.

She said: "We really do need to start in schools because children aren't taught about periods enough, so we really do need to get into the root of everything.

"We also need to see mandatory education for GPs, which I know the women's health champion, Professor Anna Glasier, is working on at the moment. There's such a lack of understanding surrounding women's health as a whole, but we need to see these changes coming in soon as quite often menopausal symptoms are being misdiagnosed with depression and anxiety, which is when women can spiral down a really dark hole.

"We deserve so much better."

To get involved in the Menopause & Me conversation, email annabelle.gauntlett@hnmedia.co.uk

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