Editor’s Note: This month, in honor of the upcoming World Menopause Day on October 18th, we have a guest blog post.by Stacy Reeve, founder of The Surmeno Connection. Hedge and Fox’s goal is to help raise awareness of this amazing foundation and the incredible support they provide to a huge community of women world-wide. Please read on…
“According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 600,000 hysterectomies are performed annually in the United States, and approximately 20 million American women have had a hysterectomy. By the age of 60, more than one-third of all women have had a hysterectomy or oophorectomy and are living in surgical menopause.”
In 2015, after a nine year struggle with endometriosis, my health journey led me to a total hysterectomy with a bilateral oophorectomy. In reality, that’s just a fancy was of saying I had my ovaries removed. What followed during the post-op period surprised me. Most people think of menopause as natural change of life, however I quickly learned that there were different types of menopause, and while the symptoms were similar, the severity of symptoms could vary greatly. What I had just entered was called “surgical menopause” (read Stacy’s full story here).
What is Surgical Menopause?
Natural menopause is a slow, gradual decline of hormones to a lower level. Surgical menopause (Surmeno) is often an immediate and complete loss of hormones that starts the minute women come out of surgery. This rapid loss of hormones, especially for younger women, many times leave the body reeling and struggling to function as it once did. The risks of early onset conditions of heart disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimers and dementia are a big concern in the Surmeno community. Many women in surgical menopause find themselves dealing with new daily symptoms such as migraines, digestive issues, intense brain fog, fatigue, join pain, dizziness, lack of sleep and more. The sudden appearance of a long list of symptoms leaves many women also struggling with severe anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.
How The Surmeno Connection was Founded
As I went looking for information and support to help deal with symptoms I was now facing, I came up empty-handed. The lack of information and support led me to start an online support group on Facebook that quickly started growing.
As the support group took off I partnered up with another woman from across the country. Together, we came up with the idea to create a space and website for women to come find support and information to help them in their struggle to find balance post surgery. We were finding that the medical community was either dismissive or was grossly under-educated to offer adequate treatment plans for surgical menopause. A 2018 AARP article states:
“Most medical schools and residency programs don’t teach aspiring physicians about menopause. Indeed, a recent survey reveals that 20 percent of ob-gyn residency programs provide any kind of menopause training. Mostly, the courses are elective. And nearly 80 percent of medical residents admit they feel ‘barely comfortable’ discussing or treating menopause.”
In 2018 The Surmeno Connection registered as a non-profit with the goal of focusing on educating and supporting women and physicians alike. Today, The Surmeno Connection has a team of 13 members from all over the globe, and a support group of over 4,000 that is growing by the minute.
Future Plans for The Surmeno Connection
Our main focus going into this next season is to continue to grow our website, information, and support group to help point women to the appropriate medical help. We plan on adding new website sections that focus on information for family members and women who are not allowed hormone replacement therapy. Our community is also asking for an app that would accurately track surgical menopause treatments and symptoms, as hormone balancing can often be a long exhausting process.
It is also important to us to reach out to the medical community and medical professionals to help educate them on the challenges faced by thousands of women in surgical menopause. Women’s health hasn’t changed much in the last 100 years and is often under-funded and under-researched. Old medical studies that have since been disproved still drive medical treatment. Our goal is to change that dynamic through research and to support women as they navigate the difficult task of regaining balance in their lives post-surgery. https://www.thesurmenoconnection.com/hrt-risks-myths
As a non-profit, we rely on the financial generosity of others to further our goals. Fundraisers such as this one provided by Hedge and Fox make a huge impact in our ability to provide more for this growing community of women and medical professionals.
To visit our website please visit: https://www.thesurmentoconnection.com
If you or someone you know needs support for surgical menopause please join our Facebook support group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/surmenosupport/
One more note from Jen and Katie: Thank you for taking the time to read about this important health issue! If you or someone you know could benefit from the knowledge and community that The Surmeno Connection has provided, please be sure to let them know about the foundation.
In addition to sharing our blog page to bring awareness to the needs of the Surmeno community and The Surmeno Connection, we have created a special edition collection of earrings with all proceeds going to The Surmeno Connection for the entire month of October. Sales after October from this collection will generate a donation of 50% to The Surmeno Connection.