About Us

Aims of the group

The aim of NZEM is to provide support to women throughout NZ who have experienced or are experiencing an early menopause as a result of genetic, natural or medically induced causes. NZEM aims to provide a broad range of relevant information and resources to assist women in their personal journeys through early menopause. This support includes sharing our own stories. From these stories, one thing is clear: while we may have the common experience of early menopause, each of those experiences is unique. We have tried to include a broad range of women’s stories on our site in the hope that as you read through them, you will come across others who have faced something similar to yourself. In this way, we hope to create a supportive community of women who have shared similar experiences.

History of the group

This support group was established by Dr Andrew Shelling of Auckland University as a response to women’s needs while conducting research investigating the genetic basis of premature ovarian failure (POF). During this research, Andrew found that women were very keen to talk about their experiences of entering menopause so much earlier than expected. The group began as a small, email based contact group. While this served the primary goal of offering support to prematurely menopausal women, over time we became aware that there were many women who did not know about our group. This realization led to the development of this web site. It is hoped that this web site will make our group more accessible to a wider range of women.

With the development of a web site came the need to develop a logo for our group. Given that we are a New Zealand based site, we wanted something that was able to capture our ‘kiwi-ness’ while still reflecting the purpose of the group. The koru in particular, speaks to many of the key themes of NZEM, symbolising new life, growth, strength, tranquility, spirituality and ultimately, new beginnings. Our logo designers, NZEM member Nicole and her husband Dave, also point to the circular shape of the koru and its capacity to represent the moon’s monthly cycles, the un-released eggs that are ultimately at the core of this condition and its powerful representation of the feelings of wholeness and unity that a support group can provide. We hope you agree.

Who are we and how might we help?

The women from this group are all volunteers. We do not bring formal qualifications to the support we provide. However, we each have our own unique experience of menopause. We understand how powerful it can be to share those experiences with others who have experienced something similar. It can help to cut through some of the feelings of isolation that many women experience. We understand the importance of having someone to listen to. There are a number of ways that we do this:

Forum

We’ve found that learning from the experiences of others can really help you to get more comfortable with your diagnosis. On our forum we chat about anything and everything that might be on our minds and it’s a great place to get information and advice from women who know what you’re going through. The anonymity on offer can make initial contact with the group easier and means you start getting the support you need as soon as you’re ready. A link to the forum is on our home page.

Email contact

NZEM provides email support to women throughout New Zealand. Having made your initial contact with us, either via email or on the forum, with your permission we will inform other members of the group (particularly those within your region) so that you may be provided with a support network of women who have shared similar experiences. Being on the email contact list also gives you access to relevant and timely menopause information and group news. If you would like to be added to the list of contacts, please email us.

Telephone contact

Technology is all well and good, but you might find it easier to talk to someone in ‘real time’ on the phone. If this is the case for you, it’s no problem to make contact by telephone. Simply email us with your telephone details and we will make sure that a group member makes contact as soon as possible. We will try to connect you up with another woman who has shared a similar experience to you, and, if at all possible, someone from your own region.

Regional face-to-face contact

In the Auckland region, we’ve started getting together every three to four months for a shared meal. Sometimes we head out to a cheap and cheerful café/restaurant, while other times we’ve met up for a ‘pot luck’ dinner at a member’s home. These are very informal nights and really provide a safe environment where we can swap stories and share information with each other. It’s always amazing to hear how much knowledge we have accumulated as a group. These nights have been truly invaluable. If the women there can’t answer your question, it’s more than likely they’ll be able to point you in the right direction. And these evenings are certainly not all about menopause. We have plenty of laughs along the way and really get know each other socially, too. Email us to find out about the next get-together, or to discuss having one in your area.

Annual catch-up

About once every two years, we organise a national gathering. This provides an opportunity for members to meet other women with early menopause from around the country in an informal and safe environment. We organise speakers based on the needs of the group. This might include counsellors, doctors, alternative therapists, fertility specialists and genetic scientists. In the past, there has been a long weekend held in Taupo where Dr. Andrew Shelling came along to share the findings of his research on the genetic basis of premature menopause. Then in winter 2005 we met just north of Wellington. During this weekend, a counsellor came along for women to talk through some of the emotions associated with early menopause. A massage therapist also came along for a spot of luxury and self indulgence – nothing like a massage for therapeutic guidance!  Most recently Dr. Andrew Shelling met with us again at Waiwera for Queen’s Birthday weekend 2008 and, of course, there was more pampering – this time at Waiwera Infinity Spa. We had a fabulous weekend.

OK. We hope you’re not put off by all of the options listed above. There are absolutely no obligations on your part. Your level of involvement in the group is entirely up to you and you certainly don’t have to ‘sign up’ to anything. Perhaps a good starting point is to make email contact and we can go from there. We will support you in any way that we can.

About_Us