Before the menopause, I was a healthy outgoing person. I ate a well-balanced diet, took vitamin, mineral and fish-oil supplements, and exercised every day. Being an advocate of complementary and natural medicines, I was completely against taking HRT.
My menopause began when I was 50 and I held out for four years. I suffered very frequent (and by no means trivial!) hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness which caused tears if I so much as washed myself, complete loss of libido, severe depression, panic attacks, weight gain and heavy hair loss.
I tried every natural remedy suggested - evening primrose oil, vitamin E, high-potency vitamin B, herbs, acupuncture and two years of homoeopathy. I eliminated dairy and wheat. I even had my thyroid checked.
Despite all this, my symptoms persisted and got worse. In desperation and feeling almost suicidal, I saw a doctor, who prescribed HRT. Within two weeks, I was a changed woman. It was as if a magic wand had been waved.
I have now been on HRT for 16 years and, at the age of 70, I am fit, healthy and active. I have had no side-effects. I am aware of the possible risks of HRT, but I believe that quality of life is more important that 'quantity'.
HRT has enabled me to exchange what seemed likely to be 16 years of misery for 16 years of health, fitness and happiness. I only wish I had gone on HRT earlier and not thrown away four years of my life. - Name and address supplied