Runner raises money for early menopause after best friend suffers POI at 28 years old

Runner goes the distance for her best friend

Sydney’s life changed when she was diagnosed with premature ovarian insufficiency (POI), also known as early menopause, at the age of 28. On Sunday, her best friend, Natalie, ran the London 10k in her honour, to help fund more research into early menopause.

When Sydney came off her contraceptive pill after 10 years and her period didn’t return, she knew something was wrong. Her GP ran a series of tests before diagnosing her with POI, which affects 1 in 100 women under the age of 40.

Sydney said: “It took me a long time to accept what had happened to my body. It has been a difficult period of my life. I went through waves of feeling so low in myself and also stressed with the situation.”

And as well as the mental impact on her life, the physical symptoms left her feeling isolated.

“I originally suffered from hot flushes, in the middle of meetings or just sitting at my desk at work and it would come over me like I was being set on fire from the inside out. I felt so alone, frustrated and embarrassed,” she explained.

Three years later and Sydney’s hot flashes have subsided, but she still struggles with low libido.

“Being 31 with very little sex drive, it is difficult to manage in a relationship as it also affects the other person,” she said.

When Sydney’s best friend since secondary school, Natalie, heard about Wellbeing of Women through her company, she decided to run the ASICS London 10K to raise as much awareness as possible for POI.

Natalie said: “Learning of the problems Sydney was faced with broke my heart as I love her like a sister. I also felt very helpless as I knew very little about what was happening to her. Sydney is the most funny, generous and spirited person I know. I am so lucky to call her my best friend. She is ridiculously strong.”

Natalie takes inspiration from the way Sydney dealt with her diagnosis, saying that “she is amazing at making light of difficult situations and focusing on the positives.”

Sydney said of her friend’s sporting efforts:”I can’t begin to describe what it means to me that Natalie is fundraising for this cause. With all the support she has given me since I met her, this has motivated me even more to speak out and share my story with others. I am so proud of Natalie for signing up.”

Both friends hope to raise more awareness in this area.

Natalie said: “I think it’s massively important to educate young girls and women about the physical and emotional problems they might have to face in later years. Raising money for the type of research that Wellbeing of Women carries out is vital for women who face these problems. The more that is known about these subjects, the easier it will be for those effected to navigate.”

Sydney added: “Not only should we be more educated about fertility; we should be all be aware of how are bodies are going to change and the best thing we can do to prepare for it.”

You can donate to support Natalie and Syndey here.

Common symptoms of POI include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Palpitations
  • Decreased energy levels
  • Lack of concentration
  • Poor sleep
  • Lack of interest in sex
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Painful intercourse
  • Mood changes
  • Long term risks of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis