Donna Marie Howarth is a Abu-Dhabi based menopause coach, personal trainer and founder of Harmoniousher.
What is menopause? Menopause is a normal, natural event that marks the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle.
“With the aging of the worldwide population in the coming decades, it is estimated that 1.2 a billion women worldwide will be menopausal or postmenopausal by the year 2030,” says Matthew Sussman from BMC Women’s Health.
There are 3 (main) stages, which are: Peri-Menopause, Menopause, and Post-Menopause.
Different stages of the Menopause
Peri-Menopause is where the majority of symptoms will begin, increasing in quantity as the woman transitions towards Menopause and ultimately, Post-Menopause. (The North American Menopause society comment’s “The average age of menopause is 51”).
The Peri-Menopause can begin the late thirties to mid-forties, this phase can be the most chaotic for some women and they will experience symptoms to such a high level of severity, impacting their daily life.
For example, she may experience a change in her emotions, well-being, confidence levels, sleep patterns, distribution of body fat (tummy), skin issues, tinnitus, dry eyes, and dizziness to name but a few. There are over 60 symptoms of menopause and each woman’s journey will differ.
This is my story
DONNA MARIE HOWARTH RUNS A BEAUTIFUL COMMUNITY ON FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM CALLED HARMONIOUSHER. IT IS A SAFE SPACE FOR WOMEN TO DISCUSS VARIOUS ASPECTS OF MENOPAUSE IN THE UAE.
Drawing on my own experience, at 42 I was thrown into absolute chaos as I embarked on my menopausal journey. My mental health was affected which had an impact on work and relationships with family and friends. My social life became non-existent as I no longer wanted to socialize.
There is a mindset that hot flushes/flashes signify the start of menopause. As mentioned above, there are so many other symptoms involved and each woman’s experience will be unique to her.
As a woman in Peri-Menopause, I felt overwhelmed and unprepared for the feelings I was experiencing and found myself struggling to understand what was happening to my body and mind. I had to educate and self-diagnose for me to realize I was entering my menopausal years. As a result of this finding, I felt compelled to learn more which is why I qualified as a Menopause 3rd Age Coach, to help myself and other women.
Experiencing menopause in the UAE
Living in the UAE, as a menopausal woman has been quite difficult, in that professional support has been limited and advice varies from consultant to consultant and also, between the Emirates.
Witnessing these limitations, I felt the need to create a support group named “HarmoniousHer” to enable women to come together, to learn, share, and have open discussions above the menopause.
When a woman enters her menopause years, it can be a very lonely experience, even though every woman will experience menopause, an individual will feel as though she is on her own and may become withdrawn. Having professional help to advise on the options available i.e. Hormone Replace Therapy (HRT), supplements,
lifestyle choices, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), alternative therapies, etc. becomes a necessity to avoid other issues from arising. For example, mental health issues, anxiety, stress, gut disorders, and other issues as a woman transitions towards post-menopause and beyond.
Launching the menopause awareness campaign in the UAE
As a result of observing the current services available and listening to the experiences of other women, I realized I needed to launch #MenopauseMattersUAE. The awareness campaign is for all women living in the UAE, Emirati, and Expats alike. The menopause unites us as women regardless of nationality, religion, and culture we need to stand together to ask for change.
• Consistency in professional menopause advice and support
• Wider availability of HRT, associated medication and supplements
• Menopause awareness guidelines for medical professionals and establishments.
A member of HarmoniousHer recently reached out to me due to her suffering for two years with the menopause, her symptoms had affected her mental health and she had become desperate for advice and could no longer cope. This woman had no idea who to contact for medical support, was worried she would be unheard and her request for HRT declined.
I have heard of women who have had a total hysterectomy and have not been advised of the immediate menopause that would follow post-surgery and left to self manage their symptoms, without professional help. Another woman approached me for assistance as
her monthly cycle had become extremely heavy and the pain unbearable. Visits to consultants had left her without answers and she had become exhausted due to blood loss and lack of sleep. These are just a few of the experiences from some of the members of “HarmoniousHer” who have suffered, unnecessarily.
I can appreciate, change happens over time and small steps need to be taken. Some of us may not benefit from these new endeavors, but we all need to be vocal, not only for ourselves but for our daughter’s, to ensure they receive the appropriate advice and
support for when they reach this milestone in their lives.
Donna Marie Howarth runs a beautiful community on Facebook and Instagram called Harmoniousher. It is a safe space for women to discuss various aspects of Menopause in the UAE. JOIN HERE
At Story of Fitness, we think Menopause Matters, hence we love sharing stories of brave women talking about their Hot Years.
This article was published on September 14, 2020
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