'Menopause made me feel like I couldn't go on any longer'

Jan Woodward was 47 when she started the menopause. She could never have imagined the impact it would have upon her life.

"They say that you will have one or two symptoms of the menopause, but I felt I had them all", said Jan, from Newport.

"I could be walking around a supermarket doing nothing, and I'd finish the supermarket and I'd be drenched - and then I'd have the headaches that followed".

For Jan, the most troubling symptoms were psychological.

"It just took all of my confidence, it took my memory... and when I was talking to people it was all jumble coming out."

Jan says she hit "rock bottom" - and that at her lowest point, she felt unable to go on.

"Two years ago, it took me to a very, very dark place... I couldn't go on any longer. And it was a phone call from my daughter... and she said Mum I'm coming over, and she did, and straight away she could see that I was rock bottom, really rock bottom, and she contacted a counsellor. And I saw the counsellor the following day".

Jan was also prescribed HRT, or Hormone Replacement Therapy, by her doctor.

She has gradually begun to feel much better - but the menopause has led her to make a number of life changes, including the decision to leave her job.

"I needed my memory and my confidence", said Jan. "But the menopause was creeping in, saying you can't do this, you can't do that".

Before the menopause, Jan felt happier and more confident Credit: ITV Cymru Wales / Jan Woodward

Menopause refers to the stage in a woman's life when their periods stop - usually between the age of 45 and 55.

The symptoms vary in type and severity from person to person, but can include night sweats, reduced sex drive, low mood, anxiety, and problems with memory and concentration.

A recent survey by the British Menopause Society found that most women experience around 7 different symptoms, while 42% said their symptoms were worse or much worse than expected.

Jan says she believes the menopause should be talked about more openly.

"There's a lot of things out there that can make you look younger, so to actually talk about the menopause actually endorses the fact that you are getting older.

"I've learnt to deal with it, live with it, adjust my way of living with it", she added. "It's become part of me and it's not going to go away... but you learn how to deal with the menopause".