Menopause Uganda: Mary’s Story – Hot Flashes

Until the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic, is when I got to know the word Menopause when we were not called by our names and age but our description during the COVID vaccination exercise. In Uganda, women fear to expose their age rather we are categorized and classified. After getting the COVID Vaccine, women in our group started discussing the menopause issues to understand if we wouldn’t get side effects.

I’m 55 years old woman living in Kiwempe Village, Kansanga – Kampala district in Uganda. I am a mother to 6 children with 8 grandchildren, working in the nearby market selling groceries. Yes, at this age, I still work from 7:00am to 7:00pm to pay my rent and care for the grandchildren at my home. I’m all alone as my husband didn’t make it through the COVID-19 pandemic. I can’t get married again as our community looks at me as an elder who advises the young female generation on matters of marriage and behavior.

Everyday during work, I get multiple heatwaves that pass through my body. I feel the sun has come closer to me and when I ask my colleagues, they tell me they are not feeling anything.

I have trouble sleeping most especially when I wake up with a wet pillow wondering where the water came from. As I walk to my work place, I easily sweat heavily and heart beats are faster than usual. That’s the moment I knew something wasn’t right. When I inquired from a nearby health center, they told me those were hot flashes. The nurses at the health facility had very little knowledge about the heatwaves and continuous sweating. When the doctor came in, he said I was going through Menopause and the heatwaves and sweating were Hot Flashes. He educated me about Menopause and why it happens. He insisted that I should start on HRT (hormone replacement therapy). All these were new vocabulary to me.

Without funds, I went back to the market confused and disturbed. I began managing the Hot Flashes by my self through drinking cold water, seating in cool places under trees, dressing light clothes, I open all windows and doors during the day at home so as to get fresh air and no longer eat or drink very hot meals.

With no information, I am confused and stranded on where to go for medication, what to do with these body changes, who supports women of these kind, does the government provide HRT for women of my kind? All these questions run in my mind everyday and wonder where to get support to tackle these menopause challenge.

I thank Menopause Initiative Uganda for the support, information and education on the Hot Flashes and other menopause challenges. I look forward to finding support from government to help the women to live normal lives so that we can feed our families.

Written By:

Jennifer Vander Zalm

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