Your Golden Hour: Normalizing the Conversation About Menopause in the Middle East

There are several topics that we purposely avoid as women, are embarrassed to talk about, and sometimes even feel ashamed to discuss in public. Everything related to women’s health and female anatomy in general is considered taboo in Arab societies, when actually what should be more taboo is placing a woman’s value in her fertility. And unfortunately, some women are accustomed to thinking of themselves the same way that society thinks of them.

Adding to the list of topics that no one talks about is menopause. But now Arab women are unstoppable, and social media has given a voice to the voiceless. Your Golden Hour is a new Instagram platform dedicated to informing, supporting, and raising awareness to women experiencing perimenopause or menopause in Egypt and the Middle East, and attempting to normalize this conversation as a time when women bloom.

So what is menopause? In short, menopause is the time when a woman’s period stops, typically around the age of 45. Once she completes a whole year without bleeding, she has reached menopause. Prior to that, a woman experiences perimenopause, the phase right before reaching menopause, typically during her 40s, and sometimes earlier, when her ovaries start making less estrogen. There are a number of symptoms to menopause and perimenopause, mainly hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, and vaginal dryness, that can make life incredibly uncomfortable for women. Not being able to talk about these things, and sometimes not even being aware of them, just makes things more difficult and many women end up feeling helpless and alone.

Since October is World Menopause Awareness Month, we’re echoing what the founder of this new platform said about why she chose to address menopause specifically; it’s because nobody wants to talk about it, “even women themselves”. It’s time to break the silence.

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It would be incorrect to think of night sweats as a separate menopause symptom – it is only a night-time manifestation of hot flushes and sweating experienced during the day. But because night sweats occur whilst women are sleeping or not able to take 'evasive action', they become more noticeable . It is not uncommon for a woman experiencing night sweats to wake up with her bedclothes drenched in sweat. Night sweats are not only embarrassing but also disturb your sleep and that of your partner. As with hot flushes, women will experience menopausal night sweats and excessive sweating in different ways. Some suffer night sweats quite severely, whereas others don't appear to be bothered by excessive sweating or night sweats at all. Some women will experience night sweats as their main or only menopausal symptom, others will find that it is one of a whole host of other symptoms. There is no particular time of night in which night sweats occur. In practice however, they are more likely to happen if your bedroom is too warm – this can sometimes lead to marital differences! The number of night sweats suffered each night is variable and often unpredictable. The one consolation is that, generally speaking, night sweats are usually accompanied by hot flushes – and they do not last as long. Night sweats are very commonly associated with peri/menopause, as with hot flushes and excessive sweating – the root cause of these menopause symptoms is probably the same, basically as we mentioned in our post on hot flushes, estrogen fluctuations. #makemenopausematter #menopauseawareness #nightsweats #yourgoldenhour #menopausesymptoms #yourmenopause_yourway

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Menopausal Mood Swings. These are the mother of all mood swings. Remember the good old times of pregnancy crying, or those sweet lovely PMS moments. Noooooo. That was child's play. You’re laughing with your friends one minute and close to tears a few moments later. You feel tired, overwhelmed, and out of control. You shout at the porter and the butcher and you poor husband and anyone unlucky enough to cross your path during the angry phase. You’re not crazy—it’s one of the common symptoms of perimenopause : mood swings. And there are ways to cope. What causes mood swings? As a woman ages, estrogen levels are fluctuating from one minute to the next, and erratic. Less progesterone is produced (but stabilizes at low levels in postmenopause, around age 55). Estrogen is related to production of serotonin, a mood-regulating neurotransmitter. Fluctuating estrogen and progesterone levels, plus other factors, cause serotonin production disruption, leading to more mood swings. Mood disorders are common during this time. Lack of sleep can worsen mood, but anxiety and depression symptoms may contribute to sleep disturbances that are also common during menopause. During the menopause transition, there is a significant increased risk of new-onset depression or relapse of depression. This risk decreases again early after menopause. Often, a healthy lifestyle is the first step in preventing mood swings. Sometimes, however, all of the lifestyle changes you make are not enough. For severe mood swings, especially those that interfere with enjoying everyday life, hormone therapy can help. #makemenopausematter #MenopauseAwarenessMonth #menopausesupport #youAreNotCrazy #YourGoldenHour #moodswings #mentalhealth

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