Penny Lancaster health: ‘It was as if the bed was on fire’ – menopause symptoms

Penny Lancaster discusses hormone replacement therapy

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During her interview Lancaster described how she started experiencing symptoms of menopause at the beginning of the first national lockdown in March 2020.

At first she assumed it was COVID-19: “My first thought was that I had the virus because of the amount of heat. I thought it was heat exhaustion.

“I thought this must be the virus because the main symptoms for Covid was a high temperature.”

However, Lancaster’s opinion changed when she soon “realised that it didn’t really match with the symptoms because [she] didn’t have a continuous cough and the temperature would fluctuate”.

The temperature, and how it would change, were one of the most uncomfortable bits of experiencing the menopause.

Lancaster describes how the worst moments occurred during the night: “It was as if the bed was on fire. It woke me in a puddle of sweat and then I found myself on top of the covers to cool down, falling back to sleep, then waking up freezing cold.”

Despite her symptoms, at first doctors prescribed her anti-depressants, which Lancaster describes as “ineffective”.

After seeking further consultation Lancaster discovered she was going through the menopause and sought out HRT.

Even though HRT helps to alleviate the symptoms of the menopause this doesn’t stop the experience from leaving a lasting effect on women.

Lancaster described the process as “tortuous” due to the sleep deprivation and mood swings she experienced.

As well as the uncertainty for her, Lancaster says her “husband and children were at a loss” as they wanted to help but didn’t know how to.

All of this comes at a time when women are struggling to obtain crucial doses of HRT amidst a nationwide shortage.

While the cause of the crisis is unknown, the most popular theory is a surge in demand due to campaigning by notable figures such as Lancaster and the presenter Davina McCall.

In an interview with the BBC, McCall described how at first she was worried she had a brain tumour, such was the severity of the symptoms.

Symptoms of the menopause include:
• Problems with memory and concentration
• Hot flushes
• Night sweats
• Reduced sex drive
• Vaginal dryness
• Difficulty sleeping
• Low mood
• Anxiety.

Lancaster also criticised not just the HRT shortage but how hard it was for women to access the medication in England.

Women experiencing the menopause in Wales and Scotland do not currently have to pay for HRT, however in England they do.

Such is the crisis, rationing of the drugs has been introduced.

Women will now only be able to get three months’ worth of certain HRT products.

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