‘My brain fog left me fearing I had dementia’
Mum-of-two has shared the emotional and physical tolls of menopause, which left her fearing she had dementia.
Germaine Fryer, 51, had always suffered from tiredness, fatigue, and brain fog due to an underactive thyroid, but was unsure why these symptoms had worsened in her late forties. Going backwards and forwards with GP visits, she was initially misdiagnosed with depression. Now, after finding relief with Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and our Menopause Formula, she hopes to raise awareness of the symptoms of menopause and how other women can find relief. According to the British Menopause Society, menopausal symptoms affect more than 75% of women, and over 25% describe severe symptoms.
‘Menopause, as it does, just creeps up on you. Initially, I didn’t have great response from the doctors. Nobody explored menopause with me, they only mentioned that my tiredness may be due to depression. Different doctors kept trying to prescribe me antidepressants or refer me to talking therapies, but at the time I was training to be a councillor, so as part of my training I already had to access counselling sessions. One doctor, before he had even seen or talked to me, had already formed a prejudgement that I was depressed and had the referral form ready to go.’
‘I had been on antidepressants years ago, so I knew how I felt when I was at my low, and I knew I wasn’t anywhere near that. Whilst I was fatigued and experiencing severe brain fog, I wasn’t depressed. I knew who I was, and I knew this wasn’t about a low mood.’
‘Another frustration was that I was told I needed to exercise more to cure my brain fog. At the time, I ran 3 miles at the weekend, I did 4 HIIT sessions a week, yoga every day before work, and walked the dog every day. My fitness wasn’t even in question, so what else did they want me to do? Also, I had cut carbs, dairy and meat out of my diet, in hopes of finding out what the root cause of my brain fog was.’
Feeling discouraged, Germaine spoke to a thyroid specialist, who wrote a letter to her GP stating that she had a strong understanding of her mental health and was not depressed.
‘My brain fog at this point was horrendous, to the point I feared I had dementia. My retention had completely plummeted. I would look at a cup and instantly forget what was written on it. During meetings, I had to write everything down verbatim, instead of taking bullet point notes, which I had been able to do previously. I became the queen of power naps and was just doing what I had to do to survive. It was absolutely horrible and soul destroying. You’re trying to remain professional at work but feel like you don’t have the capabilities to perform. It’s like you’re missing a bit of you that you know is in there.’
‘After I spoke to a thyroid specialist, she referred me to a GP who had an interest in menopause. She clarified that my symptoms were peri-menopausal and put me on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) in April 2021. I began on 50mcg oestrogen skin patches, then 75mcg, to the highest dose of 100mcg by June 2021, but was feeling little relief. So, I was prescribed stronger oestrogen gels which you rub onto the skin, once a day.’
‘I was on 4 sachets of oestrogen gel, which is a high dose. The HRT helped relieve my menopausal symptoms of night sweats and tiredness, but nothing was getting my brain fog. There was one conversation where I was told I should reduce my HRT, but I was so scared and nervous about losing myself if I lowered my dose.’
After her one and a half year battle with brain fog, Germaine began taking our Menopause Formula in October 2022 and by the end of the month, noticed a huge difference.
‘A friend suggested Equi London's Menopause Formula to me, after I had been on HRT for 18 months. It was game changing and made a huge difference. From that first month, my brain fog cleared, and I felt more energised than ever. Since taking the supplements for 6 months, I’ve been able to reduce my HRT to 2 sachets of gel, without any fear of up spikes in brain fog. My hair was also falling out in clumps before, which I didn’t even consider to be part of my menopause, because I was so focussed on my brain fog. I’ve always had fine, curly hair, but now my hair is so much richer and fuller. ‘
Speaking to accredited nutritionist and co-founder Alice Mackintosh, she says ‘Menopause comes at a time in life when we have developed much wisdom and are enjoying our strongest sense of self, yet this transition can often destabilise us overwhelmingly. In my clinic I speak to women suffering with a huge array of debilitating symptoms that can impact on memory, mood, energy, hair, skin, libido, sleep and general wellbeing. When making Equi London’s Menopause Formula, I wanted to create a complete, highly nourishing formula that combines the very best standard of herbs, botanicals, minerals, antioxidants, and female focussed probiotics that have been shown to help support women in this phase of their life.’
Germaine says ‘If there is one thing, I wish I knew before starting my menopause journey, its that there are resources, holistic supplements, and medical treatments available to help manage symptoms. There is a stigma that nothing can be done to help, and it felt like my mother’s generation didn’t talk about menopause much when I was growing up. I lost my mum 19 years ago and I really regret not being able to talk to her about her menopause experience, because it would have helped me today.’
‘I’ve found literature such as 'Perimenopause Power' and 'Mindful Menopause', to be incredibly useful for having these conversations around menopause. Although I had to make myself heard when seeking help from medical professionals, the HRT I was eventually prescribed helped a lot. Also, if I hadn't been having open conversations about my menopause journey with my friends, I wouldn't have found out about Equi London's Menopause Formula, which changed my life for the better and finally cleared my brain fog.’
‘It's important to remember that everyone's menopause experience is different, but you're not alone in it. Don’t suffer in silence and get the help you deserve.’