By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.

What it's like to be menopausal at 24

Lydia's cancer diagnosis when she was. Her diagnosis meant she had to undergo a complete hysterectomy – having her uterus and cervix removed. As a result, she found herself facing the menopause. Here’s her story on how she’s reached an understanding with her symptoms.

Table of contents
https://www.trekstock.com/resources/what-its-like-to-be-menopausal-at-24

Lydia was diagnosed with womb cancer when she was 24. Her diagnosis meant she had to undergo a complete hysterectomy – having her uterus and cervix removed. As a result, she found herself facing the menopause. Here’s her story on how she’s reached an understanding with her symptoms.

For over three months now I have been menopausal. I was put on Zoladex to try and starve my tumour of oestrogen in the hope it would inhibit its survival and the tumour would shrink. Zoladex is a hormone treatment that acts at the level of the pituitary gland, where it shuts off the production of hormones, for women this is primarily oestrogen and progesterone. Lacking oestrogen has many effects on the body, and the side effects of Zoladex (and menopause more generally) are numerous, and looking at the patient booklet, it seems I have had them all.

Menopause is still a taboo

Every woman goes through the menopause at some point in life, either naturally, from surgery, or induced by drugs like me. Yet the menopause is still a rather undiscussed subject and I think a lot of people are still unaware of half of the symptoms, especially those less common. We have all heard of hot flushes, but I for one wasn’t aware of the joint pain and headaches.

I recently watched a documentary hosted by Kirsty Wark on the BBC called ‘Menopause and Me’. Kirsty spoke with a variety of women who had gone through the menopause, all at different ages, for different reasons, and who struggled with different symptoms. The symptoms they covered were:

  • Hot flushes
  • Night sweats
  • Sleep disruption
  • Anger
  • Low mood and depression
  • Tearful and emotional
  • Fatigue
  • Aching joints
  • Reduced bone density- osteoporosis
  • (Splitting) Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Loss of libido

Some little extras added by me:

  • Weight gain
  • Insatiable appetite
  • Smaller boobs
  • Thinner hair
  • Thinner eyelashes
  • Dry skin
  • Loss of strength

Fun wish list aye?

Menopause and ageing

The commonality that all the women experienced was the feeling of ageing that comes with the menopause, being past it, ‘a cow put out to pasture’ 😔. The feeling that you have left the childbearing era of your life behind. Who would have thought that in 2017 where having children is a personal choice that doesn’t define your femininity, that being past childbearing age affects women’s body image and sexuality. I have also felt like this; I would like to think that how I think about myself isn’t related to my lady organs. Yet, somewhere inside me, in my instincts or genetics, the risk of infertility and having a broken womb makes me feel like less of a woman- totally mental right? My broken womb and induced menopause haven’t changed how I look on the outside, and shouldn’t change how sexy I feel, yet somehow cancer killed my vibe. As Jennifer Saunders so perfectly put it, there is just an: ‘Indefinable something that you don’t have any more’ but ‘I’m still completely able to do what I want to do’. It’s a subtle change, it’s hard to put your finger on and almost impossible to describe but it’s real and discernible.

Most of the women who felt this sense of ageing and reduced sexuality were in their 50s or more, and compared to me, ageing. Yet I can safely say that even at half the normal age, the menopause does make you feel old, past it and terribly unsexy. There is nothing quite like aching joints and a dry vagina to make you feel like an old witch.

Menopause side effects

Nearly all the side effects I experience are associated with ageing, the worst being fatigue and sleep disruption. As someone who always exercised a lot and was generally fit and healthy, being constantly tired (and not just normal tired, cancer tired- it’s a thing, honestly), having no energy has large repercussions on my day to day life. No matter the fact that I look like I’ve had no sleep, with permanent very sizeable bags under my eyes- which isn’t exactly the youthful glow I’m going for! On top of this, the tiredness also seems to dull my brain, and I regularly end up swapping incorrect sentences in words or saying the wrong word. Which makes me feel even more of a dumb tw*t than I used to.

This, often accompanied by severe, splitting headaches (the kind that makes you want to rip out your eyes balls) can be enough to drive anyone loopy. It can often be hard to concentrate. You feel like you’re running at 50% of your usual capacity. This can make life difficult and excelling at anything, especially work or anything slightly intellectual, a struggle. Which at 24 when you have only just started trying to build your life and career is a real hindrance. Oh, to be menopausal on the brink of retirement. That would be so much more convenient.

It's not you, it's me

Being young is all about the sex, drugs and rock and roll right? So being menopausal at 24 is a massive *cock block*. For one, you’re usually exhausted, which doesn’t always make you feel up for it. For two, when you are fancying a fumble, it can be awkward and disruptive. Searching around the room for some SERIOUS lube can be a bit of a mood killer and makes the thought of sleeping with someone new rather daunting. Certainly can’t go back to their house… what if they don’t have any lube? What if they do but it’s not the heavy-duty stuff? You might also have to have an awkward chat about why it’s not working, ‘it’s not you, it’s me… I’m just menopausal’ *cue confused look*.

Menopause has become a manageable inconvenience

So far being menopausal has been a manageable inconvenience for me, the symptoms are constant but mild. They aren’t earth-shattering, and I can carry on with day-to-day life with little disruption. If you met me you probably wouldn’t notice a thing. Yet they add an extra layer of complexity to life, I have to make allowances and compromises to my activities and behaviours (even down to what I wear), to allow for my symptoms, which affect me daily. I am constantly aware of them and they occupy a significant part of my ever-decreasing brain space. Yet for me, this is temporary, and certainly the lesser of two evils. My menopause might just save my fertility or even my life. So for now, menopause and me have come to an understanding.

Other resources

Navigating sex and cancer is a minefield. Whether you’re trying to do the deed after diagnosis, you’re living with cancer or you’re in the realms of that elusive new normal we hear so much about, the truth is, the whole thing can be, well...Tricky. Here's our tips on sex and cancer

Parenting is tough enough without adding cancer into the mix. While there's no single formula that can make parenting through cancer easy; there are some practical tools, strategies, resources and services that can help.

Receiving a cancer diagnosis in your 20s or 30s is hard enough. When you are from the LGBTQIA+ community there can be a number of issues you may face. One of these may be your sex life and sexual health. Stewart from LGBTQIA+ cancer support charity OUTpatients and experts share their tips and advice that can help you navigate sex after cancer.

Menopause is a common but not often discussed side effect of breast cancer treatment. Stacey didn't realise how much her menopausal symptoms were impacting her until she joined Trekstock's menopause programme.

Early menopause is a side effect of cancer treatment a lot of people aren't prepared for. There are ways to cope and to manage those side effects. However early menopause is impacting you, Dr Lousie Newson, GP and menopause specialist, has some tips.

Exercise and cancer don't seem like ideal partners. But the truth is they go together exceptionally well. Exercise has tonnes of benefits for those going through cancer treatment and living with any long term impacts. Exercise physiologist Tom Cowan explains the benefits of exercising with cancer and shares the best ways to make it work for you.

Living life alongside cancer when you’re in your 20s or 30s brings its own unique set of challenges. But we exist to help you make the most of the parallel lives you’re living as both patient and person. Here’s a rundown of everything we offer.

We're able to consume more content and information than ever before. A world of news, dating apps and online shopping is always just a few seconds away. But humans have not evolved to handle this kind of consumption. We're still in the process of figuring out what exactly it does to us. This year's Men's Mental Health Week is focusing on the internet and its impact on male mental health

There are loads of ways to nurture body confidence, even with cancer in the mix. We're here to support you every step of the way, providing resources to enhance both your physical and mental well-being. Together, we can help you embrace self-love and find a sense of comfort in your own skin, even in the face of cancer.

So you’ve just been told you’ve got cancer. And then you’re told your ability to have kids in the future might be impacted too. Because cancer’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Finding out you might be infertile because of your cancer treatment can have a huge emotional impact. Even if kids are the last thing on your mind, making sense of having this decision taken away from you is important. If you’re experiencing fertility issues and it’s impacting your mental health, it’s OK. There are people and organisations out there designed to help.

Just because you've been diagnosed with cancer during your education doesn't mean you should be held back. Here's everything you need to know about living life alongside cancer and education

Tips for opening up about your health at work - from what your rights are to how to talk to your employer and what to do if you decide to stop working.

Ambassador Carolina shares what the Trekstock community means to her and how she found support from people who'd been through cancer treatment at a young age.

Because navigating friendships in your 20s or 30s is hard enough without cancer.

No matter who you are, the physical changes that might occur because of cancer or its treatments can be really difficult. Whether you're dealing with nausea, hair loss, early menopause or anything else, learning how to manage these impacts is key to a better quality of life.

Cancer’s an emotional rollercoaster. It’s OK to find it tough to cope.