Menopause 'left me feeling like I couldn’t do my job anymore' says Port Talbot mum

Michelle Smith from Port Talbot was 29 when she was given a hysterectomy after suffering with ‘women’s problems’ for years. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

The menopause - something that all women will face but each experience will be unique and different. Whilst most women will be in their 40’s before they experience symptoms there are others who will go through it at a younger age.  

One of those is 34 year old Michelle Smith from Port Talbot. This is her story.

At 29 years old and after suffering with ‘women’s problems’ for years Michelle Smith from Port Talbot was given a hysterectomy. Mother to twin daughters and a son she believed that having the operation would change her life for the better. 

What she wasn’t prepared for was the severity of the symptoms of a surgically induced menopause. She was left feeling she had traded ‘one set of problems for another’

Michelle's symptoms affected her so much that she contemplated taking her own life.  Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

At first Michelle says she failed to recognise she was menopausal believing that the symptoms would be more physical such as hot flushes and heart palpitations not the emotional and mental anguish she was experiencing.

"It caused huge relationship problems between me and my partner because I felt like he didn't get it. I was crying all the time. I don't think the children knew what was happening, they just thought Mum is different."

Michelle had worked tirelessly and had a successful career in PR and Marketing but says she struggled with her concentration and started to doubt everything she did. Her self confidence dropped so low that she says she felt she couldn't do her job anymore and she resigned.

Her symptoms affected her so much that she contemplated taking her own life. 

“I remember ringing the mental health crisis team and I remember the words I said were ‘I need you to do something before I do because right now I’m not me.”

She was offered support and this was the ‘turning point’ for Michele. 

The mother of three went to her GP and was prescribed HRT. She describes it as being ‘like a weight being lifted off her shoulders’, she remembers the relief at just being listened to and told that she ‘wasn't losing her mind’ and that help available. 

The 34 year-old has now returned to work and feels it is important for women to feel supported in the workplace. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

 "I think the physical symptoms of menopause are awful like my joint ache and I find it hard to walk properly. I've put on loads of weight, my hair got thin.

'All those things were there, the heart palpitations, like I felt all of that but what it does to you mentally and emotionally that is like the hardest part because it's like your not in control of your own mind anymore and you haven't got the mental capacity to do what you use to do anymore."

Michelle was prescribed HRT which she says has helped to alleviate some of the symptoms but hasn’t cured all of them. 

Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

The 34 year-old has now returned to work and feels it is important for women to feel supported in the workplace 

"I think it's having a culture where you can talk about it and I think there just needs to be a bit of an education around it in the workplace.”

If you have been affected by anything in this article, help and advice can be found here.

Samaritans is available day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at, or visit to find your nearest branch.

The Mental Health Helpline for Wales is available to take your call any time, day or night. Freephone 0800 132 737 or text 'help" to 81066 (charged at standard network rate)

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