Dr Deirdre Forde, founder of Ceilé Medical in Athlone says the effects of stress are severely impacting women in Menopause and Perimenopause, and she is working additional hours to keep up with the increased demand for her online consultations.
Ceilé Medical in Athlone, Co. Westmeath, is the first clinic in the Midlands dedicated to Menopause, and its founder Dr Deirdre Forde is seeing how the stress of Covid-19 is worsening her patients' symptoms.
The clinic was established in December 2019, as there no dedicated service to treat menopausal women in the Midlands. Now more than ever she is seeing the importance of her services, providing remote consultations so women can safely access treatment.
“The remote consultations are, quite literally, a lifeline for women,” she says. “I started them during the last lockdown, and while I was very busy then, this time round is even busier. I think Lockdown 2 is different, stress has built up, we’re months into the upheaval that Covid is causing and many women are desperate for help with their menopausal symptoms. We know that stress is damaging at any time but anxiety is one of the symptoms of Menopause and this is definitely heightened by stress”.
Menopause can be a stressful time for women normally, and she says that the external stress of Covid-19 is definitely having an impact. “Covid has really thrown up all sorts of problems for women going through the varying stages of Menopause. Many continue to juggle work, family and other commitments but perhaps now there is the huge impact of greatly reduced finances, entire families working from home perhaps, the fear of elderly loved ones contracting Covid, fear of the unknown and the fact that everything, for all of us, is just that bit harder.”
“I think Lockdown 2 is different, stress has built up, we’re months into the upheaval that Covid is causing and many women are desperate for help with their menopausal symptoms.”
She also notes that “We have to think ahead, we have to be on alert, and let me tell you if you’re suffering from ‘brain fog’, planning ahead is not that simple. It can have a crippling, paralysing effect and women going through the Menopause just feel as if they can’t cope, they are totally overwhelmed”.
That's why Dr Forde believes her remote consultations are so important at the moment. Where women cannot travel to see her, she sends lots of information prior to their phone or video appointment, so they have time to think about their symptoms, and express their issues.
Dr Forde explains that she has had her own experiences of how hard Menopause can be, and can advise patients on treatments, lifestyle, exercise and diet. “I went through Menopause in my early 40s and was postmenopausal at the age of 48. The brain fog was horrendous, and I will never forget the drenching day time and night times sweats. It was a truly horrible time, embarrassing and I wouldn’t wish it on any other woman”.
“Eventually my GP gave me HRT but I needed to see a Gynaecologist due to severe bleeding caused by Adenomyosis in my uterus but being fed by my oestrogen. He told me that as I was post menopausal, to come off the HRT that was feeding the bleeding but that if I was still having periods and finished having a family, that the only treatment was a hysterectomy.
“He refused to carry out a hysterectomy, and I had to seek a second opinion to have the surgery. I then realised that I was post menopausal at only 48 years old. Had there been more information on Menopause then my treatment would have been vastly different and far more suitable to my physical makeup”.
Her experience has made her determined to help other women, and patient Gina Yates says that Dr Forde was the first medical professional to truly help her with her symptoms. “She listens and I mean, really listens, empathises and will work with you to get your life back on track. She is an amazing, kind and caring lady, I feel truly blessed to have come across her.”
Dr Forde is also offering vastly reduced fee for Medical Card patients going through the Menopause, passionate that they can readily access the help and support they need. She notes that women from lower socio-economic backgrounds often do not have the same access to care, and is offering remote consultations for medical card patients for €45 instead of the usual fee of €100.
Featured image: Engin Akyurt via Unsplash
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