59-year-old food consultant and homemaker Gayatri Rathore Sharma very well understands the other side of womanhood, menopause, which we often tend to ignore. After seeing her body change in her forties, and going through the emotional turmoil, she promised herself that she will teach her daughter about menopause while she is young.
This awe-inspiring woman shared her wisdom with Story of Fitness about the biological clock, hormonal changes, and the psychological turmoil that a woman goes through post the menopause.
When did you find out about the concept of menopause?
I knew that my mother had gone through it. But I didn’t realize what all she went through as I was constantly traveling. My husband was in The Indian Air Forces and he used to get posted from one place to another very often. And because we were moving around so much, I got to spend less time with my mother and hence I never really got to know what all she went through. But I remember her having a tough time with it and her blood pressure and sugar problems started post Menopause. I remember her skin also aging and I could see that menopause had caused her many health issues.
Did you have any knowledge about what was going to happen to your body when your periods stopped?
I had no idea what my body was going to go through when I went through menopause. No one spoke to me about it and I had not read much about it. Not much was written about it then. I still feel that this is something that should be written and talked about a lot because every woman goes through it. I got to know that I am going through menopause when I went to my gynecologist. She made me aware of the fact that I am going through it and that now-onwards I must add vitamins and supplements to my meals and daily life for a healthier life. I was 50 when this happened.
Did you experience common symptoms like hot flashes, vaginal dryness, sleep disturbances, and mood swings, etc., and for how long?
Yes, I experienced all the symptoms. Hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings, sleep disturbances, skin pigmentation, and more. But initially, I took it all so casually because I did not know what all changes this menopause is going to make in my body. No one stressed the importance of taking care of the body especially at this time. It went on for almost two years. I used to think of this is a part of the stress of life.
Do you feel less of a woman? I often hear women saying that they feel invisible post-menopause.
Absolutely Not! I have always been immensely proud of being a woman. Periods, giving birth to a child, menopause, and everything in-between and around it comes with the territory or rather the body in our case. We are nothing less than war heroes in life with scars we wear as badges-of-honor. Even after menopause, I did not feel any less. What our body experiences is so hard to explain to people, especially men, but we go through it and still lead lives as everything depends on us. We hold the fort because we can.
Do you think we should talk to young girls about menopause?
1000 percent yes! Like I said earlier, each woman is going to go through menopause. The symptoms will be different, the time frame will be different, the age will be different but it is inevitable and hence it is important that we speak about it to young girls so that they are physically and mentally more prepared for it when the time comes.
I spoke about it after I went through menopause with my daughter. She is independent and I am sure she must have read about it before I spoke to her, but it was important for me to speak to her about what I went through. It will help her be more prepared. This is such an important conversation to have not just in India but globally. I am glad you have decided to do a story on this, why be shy from a necessary topic!?
We have only heard of the negatives of menopause. What are the positives?
The only positive, and if you want to treat this as one, is the fact that I don’t have to carry a sanitary napkin anymore. I do not have to worry about staining my dresses or sarees. But everything else is the same.
Do you feel that menopause should be reflected in mainstream media as well?
Yes, absolutely yes.
Do you have trouble staying active and is it harder to sleep at night?
I was a sportsperson in school and bring up a child is nothing less than being a part of a never-ending marathon. But that is just to say that I have always been an active person. I am 59 years old and prefer being active. Sleeping early and waking up early keeps me on my toes.
Did you experience depression and mood swings?
Yes, I did, but I didn’t know how to deal with it. In fact, even now I get very emotional about things as compared to how I was before menopause. But I know I have coped with menopause bravely and I know a lot of women do. These are like untold stories of unsung heroes – WOMEN. Thank you for giving a space for these stories to come out.