Women Like Us Share Real Stories Of Menopause: Jacq

Jacq Dwyer

Who Is Jacq?

early-onset-menopause

Jacq is deeply involved in the small-town community of Alton where she lives in rural New Zealand.

Situated in the North Island of New Zealand, Alton is a district of Taranaki.

She’s also a passionate historian and has written several books telling local stories about the area.

A former interior designer, Jacq’s design roots underscore many talents including writing, gardening and jewellery making.

Indeed, never one to rest on her laurels she lends her creativity to a line of handmade earrings.

(YOU have the chance to win one of her designs but more on that later.)

Early-Onset Menopause

Jacq discovered she was in early-onset menopause at just 42. There were no previous clues and she’d never had any menstrual problems prior. In fact, she only looked into it further because she noticed her periods becoming irregular.

As changes in cycles are one of the hallmarks of perimenopause it doesn’t usually flag early-onset menopause.

What’s the difference between early-onset and premature menopause?

Approximately 5% of women will experience early onset menopause. This is identified as occurring between the ages of 40-45.

If a woman is under 40 this is defined as premature menopause. It occurs in around 1% of women.

Learning she had early-onset menopause was challenging for Jacq as she hadn’t yet married or had children. “That was a little bit of a tricky and sad time for me but I got through it,” says Jacq. “Our bodies are such complex machines, you can’t control everything that happens.”

The Grief, Loss, Gift & Freedom Of Menopause

It’s well established that menopause can be a time of loss and grief.

Some women report struggling to come to terms with growing older and the physical changes of midlife.

As well as that, their sense of self as women may come under the microscope.

And reaching the end of their fertile years is something many women grapple with. As a result, some women – like Jacq – experience a feeling of loss if they haven’t had children.

On the other hand, there are those who experience freedom and relief that they can no longer become pregnant.

These women see menopause as a gift.

What’s more, they don’t care as much about what others think, their children are independent and they embrace ‘me-time’.

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Jacq and friends enjoying Crowded House. She's on the right wearing her 'Hilary Barry' wig.
MenoMe® Director Dee Werder-McCrea with Jacq Dwyer
Jacq Dwyer with her cousin, MenoMe® Director Dee Werder-McCrea

A Few Years Later…

Over time, Jacq came to terms with the life-changing news of early-onset menopause. She – in her own words – “just got on with it”.

But life was about to send her another curveball just after her 48th birthday.

A sore back saw Jacq visiting the hospital who told her she could have osteoporosis or a type of cancer.

Subsequently, she was diagnosed with a form of blood cancer known as Multiple Myeloma.

“I had multiple fractures in my vertebrae and ribs because it gets into your bone marrow and starts to break down your bones,” says Jacq.

“After 26 weeks of chemotherapy, they gave me a life-changing stem cell treatment followed by more chemotherapy. Our health system is amazing with what’s available to us and it’s slowly rebuilding my bones.

“My hair fell out and I wanted a wig that looked like Hilary Barry’s hair so I wore that until my hair grew back. It’s grown back thicker than it was. It’s incredible what our bodies can do for us given the right help.”

We hope Jacq’s story has enlightened, inspired and given you something to think about.

WIN, WIN, WIN

hand made earrings and lotslocks prize

We have THREE pairs of handmade earrings by Jacq Dwyer valued at $30NZD each for you to win.

win-handmade-jacq-dwyer-earrings
1 x pair Kakaramea Kowhai (large)
win-handmade-jacq-dwyer-earrings
1 x pair Kakaramea Kowhai (small)
win-handmade-jacq-dwyer-earrings
1 x pair Hawera Feather

In addition, each prize will include one bottle of LotsaLocks® for hair growth and density.

If you would like to purchase a pair of Jacq Dwyer earrings click here.

To learn more about Multiple Myeloma or donate visit: https://www.multiplemyeloma.org.nz/.

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Post-menopause


This is the time when menstruation is well and truly over, the ovaries have stopped producing high levels of sex hormones and for many ladies, perimenopause symptoms subside.

Estrogen has protective qualities and the diminished levels mean organs such as your brain, heart and bones become more vulnerable. It’s also a key lubricant so your lips may become drier, your joints less supple and your vagina might be drier. In addition, your thyroid, digestion, insulin, cortisol and weight may alter.

At this juncture, a woman might experience an increase in the signs of reduced estrogen but she should have a decrease of perimenopause symptoms. That said, some women will experience symptoms like hot flushes for years or even the rest of their lives.

Perimenopause

Peri = ‘near’

Most females begin to experience the symptoms of perimenopause in their mid-forties. Your progesterone levels decline from your mid-30s but it’s generally from around 40 that the rest of your sex hormones begin to follow suit. 

Perimenopause is a different experience for every woman and some women may barely notice it. The first indicators are usually changes to the monthly cycle. This means that for some ladies, this can be accompanied by things like sore breasts, mood swings, weight gain around the belly, and fatigue as time goes on.

For those with symptoms it can be a challenging time physically, mentally and emotionally.

Importantly, perimenopause lasts – on average – four to 10 years. The transition is usually a gradual process and many women enter perimenopause without realising.