All women go through menopause, yet it is a tricky often taboo subject to have open conversations about, but what happens when you go through surgical-onset menopause almost a decade earlier than expected. How do you cope? What support systems are out there? What conversations should you be having? We spoke to Juilee Dandekar, who went through all this at the age of 37.
To understand what her body is going through and to help normalize conversations about menopause, she started her Instagram handle @livefearless.menopauseindia.
Thank you for talking to us.
Please do tell us a bit about yourself and how your journey to start your social media channel started?
I was diagnosed with Stage IV endometriosis at age 37, after trying all other options to alleviate the pain associated with it, I have finally advised a total hysterectomy (i.e., removal of her uterus, cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes) in the fall of 2020. The surgery put me into surgical menopause and that's when I started researching more about it. Coming from a healthcare background professionally,
Pic courtesy: Juilee Dandekar
I was very curious about how it would impact my health and how I could proactively take control. I realized menopause is barely spoken about and that's when I decided to launch live fearless (my Insta handle).
I thought I will anyway be researching and curating information and why not share it with other women who will at some point in life go through menopause.
You had a hysterectomy at 37, can you walk us through what you experienced at that time?
Menopause wasn't easy at the start - I did have my share of body changes - mainly anxiety, stiffness, joint ache at times, fatigue, insomnia, some amount of menopause weight gain but over some time, I think I am feeling much better now and much more in control.
Post hysterectomy, what kind of support did you get- from medical professionals - other support? What support were you looking for that you missed?
Honestly, I don't see a lot of proactive conversations around menopause between women and GPs. Unless women start experiencing symptoms and those too severe ones they don't reach out to doctors. They continue to suffer attributing it to aging - which is only partially true. Since mine was a surgical one, I was put on Tibolone since I am not eligible for traditional HRT due to a history of endometriosis.
(Note from Miyara: This is actually a myth; see post below)
So, what is helping you go through this process?
Consciousness is keeping me going well.
It is very important to listen to your body and not be too hard on yourself.
An active lifestyle and active not just physically but also mentally is what keeps me going. It is important to have a larger purpose in life and acceptance that the body will change. If you keep focusing on just the negatives and keep thinking of it all day because you have nothing else to worry about, you will continue to make yourself miserable. Being busy has helped me so has the regular workouts and clean eating.
First of all, is there a need to educate women and society about menopause and its associated problems?
Yes, there is a need for acknowledgment and conversations around menopause.
Most women don't even realize what they are going through are menopause symptoms and that they can ask for help. Hence there is a need to create awareness around it.
Also, a lot of these symptoms can be alleviated to a great extent with some discipline and minor lifestyle changes.
Thank you for sharing your story with us, do you have some parting words for all women?
I would urge women to not suffer through this phase and open up and reach out for help not just for their physical symptoms but also for the mental ones. Also, women should start taking proactive care of their health post 35 onwards.
Menopause should not be feared, it is a life stage
We need more brave, inspiring women like Juilee to get the conversation going about women's health. Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Follow Juliee on Instagram here
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