MP Carolyn Harris has shared how she felt that grief and the antidepressants she was prescribed masked the symptoms of menopause, on a podcast recently launched by campaign group Menopause Mandate.
And she called for women from all socioeconomic backgrounds to have access to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or other resources to support them during the menopause.
Having lost her eight-year-old son Martin in a road traffic accident in 1989, Ms Harris was later prescribed antidepressants following an operation to remove fibroids in 2010, she told podcast host Sophie Sulehria in the latest episode of The Heat Seat podcast.
‘I felt really low, anxious and really awful. I would be catastrophising. Little things would become huge issues… So I went on antidepressants, believing that I had mental health issues, and stayed on antidepressants for the next eight years, not realising I was menopausal,’ Ms Harris said.
And she called for women to have access to HRT if they want it, regardless of where they live.
‘I want women to have a choice, she said on the podcast.
‘I don’t want some women – because they live in low income areas – to only have access to certain HRT, or if they can't take HRT, whatever resource they feel works for them… I just want women to have a normal life,’ she added.
Analysis published by University of Warwick researchers in the British Journal of General Practice in 2020 indicated that the number of HRT prescriptions issued was 29% lower in GP practices in the 20% most socioeconomically deprived areas of England than in the 20% most affluent areas.
Increased media coverage on the menopause and an increase in social media posts ‘driven by women demanding better and more equal treatment of the menopause’ has been blamed for high demand for HRT.
A new manufacturing facility was opened by HRT manufacturer Besins last month to combat shortages caused by increased demand.