Today is World Menopause Day and we spoke to Erica, whose own battle with menopause symptoms inspired her attempt to set a new world record by completing 12 ultra-marathons in 12 days to raise money for menopause research.
Erica’s symptoms began in 2016 when she was 45 years old, but it wasn’t until she started experiencing hot flushes a year later that she realised she was in peri-menopause.
“I didn’t realise what it was at the time. I couldn’t tolerate interruptions at work, I couldn’t multi-task anymore, I had constant brain-fog and I couldn’t keep the weight off,” she said.
“I hated everyone and everything and my sleep was suffering – I was so tired. Constantly tired. I was always crying.”
She added: “I was revolting to live with, my energy levels were unbelievably low and I felt that I was losing my identity. Oh, and I was – and still am – plagued with an urgent need to pee. This is mortifying as you can imagine.”
Erica started HRT, which she found helped ease certain symptoms, though there are still things she struggles with including mental health and libido.
“I’m in a great place at the moment, but there are certain things that can still trigger anxiety.
“It might be a cross word with a colleague, being late for a meeting, forgetting an appointment – things that in the grand scheme are irrelevant really. But, my body is now well adjusted to HRT and these instances are increasingly rare.
“Sex is one area where, alas, I haven’t seen a marked improvement since starting HRT – I’ve noticed a definite and irritating decrease in my libido.
“This could be attributed to my training, but I think that’s only half the story.
“So, I’m going to research the benefits of testosterone and have a chat with my GP to see what options exist.”
Erica’s GP recommended exercising to manage the symptoms and having been a runner in younger years, Erica donned her trainers and headed out.
She said: “Exercise has been incredibly helpful in managing my symptoms. I sleep better, I’m less grumpy. By default, I’ve improved my diet so I can now manage my weight and I feel deeply connected to the running community. I’ve met amazing women doing some amazing things.
Erica will attempt her awe-inspiring running feat on a 400M athletics track in the Orkney Islands, Scotland in December.
She said: “We’ve had a couple of false starts following a somewhat dramatic hospital admission, and a family bereavement.
“My coach James and I have worked closely together to keep my training on course whilst making space for rest, recovery and family life.
“Training last winter on the island was tough and took its toll on my health, but we’ve focused on nutrition and fun during the summer.
“I’m about to head to Spain for some training in the mountains and then we’ll be ramping things up – running into some quite detailed specificity. Long days and runs, being out whatever the weather and spending hours on the track.”
Erica hopes to raise money to fund research into the menopause – you can support her here.
“I started overdosing on research and literature and was fairly horrified by the lack of robust, academically sound reading available to me. It was a menopausal desert! Which is why I was so excited to find Wellbeing of Women. At last – some sensible ideas and advice.”
She added: “I want to encourage EVERYONE to start talking about the menopause. It’s a thing. A real thing. And although every woman is wired differently, we’ll all experience it on some level. I’d like to help shift the taboo and help Wellbeing of Women to make it mainstream.”