Menopause At 30, Hysterectomy At 31. It Can Happen And Here's Why
Jayde Balderston has lived with chronic pain since she was 12. Although she's endured years of surgery for endometriosis and been diagnosed with cancer twice, nothing prepared her for how hard premature menopause would be.
Jayde has always been a go-getter. At primary school, she was already planning her future as a fierce and independent businesswoman.
But what she didn't expect to be doing was pioneering a national discussion about premature menopause, which she has been experiencing since the age of 31.
She's now in her early 30s, and despite her ill-health, she remains outgoing and ambitious and runs her own public relations agency.
"Every bit of information about menopause is for women in their 50s and 60s. I was a 31-year-old who was incredibly sexually active and really comfortable with their body, and then my life changes," she told ten daily.
Jayde has a hysterectomy after two bouts of cervical cancer and also has a family history of ovarian cancer. Her procedure included the removal of her uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries.
"It saved my life it's why I'm here, but I didn't understand the importance of hormones and what the change would do to me."
She said there was nowhere to turn for support or information, as she grappled with her symptoms and new life.
"I'm the sweatiest and hottest person you will ever meet. I get hot flushes, I can't sleep, my body aches, I'm so tired and I'm 33. The mood instability is just something else," she said.
What Is Premature Menopause?
Menopause typically occurs in women in their late 40s and 50s. When it occurs in women younger than 40 years of age, it is called premature menopause. Premature ovarian failure affects about 1 in a 100 women.
Like Jayde, around eight per 100 women have premature menopause due to other causes such as chemotherapy or surgery.
"There were no platforms or anything available for me that weren't in like purple cursive writing and aimed at much older women.
"Nobody talks about hysterectomy when it's induced and when you're underage. There's nobody talking about how menopause at a young age just changes absolutely everything," she told ten daily.
Premature menopause increases a woman's vulnerability to bone loss and heart disease intense, complex emotional responses particularly if you are being treated for cancer or another serious illness.
For Jayde, weight gain has been another struggle, and she's still trying to shift the 40kg she put on.
"Although 15 years of endometriosis I went through was torture and was horrible, the last two and a half years of dealing with a hysterectomy and menopause at my age has been the biggest challenge in my life," she said.
She says she has an "amazing" team of health and medical professionals helping and supporting her as well as a great partner, friends and family.
Despite this, she feels like she can't always be open about her struggles.
"I just sound like a broken record. I know they don't really get it, they don't understand what it's like living like this at my age," she said.
Starting An Australian Premature Menopause Support Group
"It's been almost three years and we are still looking at working my hormones and getting the medication and therapies right and it takes a really long time," she said.
And while she is still learning, she wants to share her experiences with other Aussie women her age.
"It's something that is definitely needed and given my experience with PR and communication, its something I would like to champion. There is something missing, we are missing a platform for young women," she said.
For example, it took nearly three years and multiple doctors and surgeons before being referred to a hormone specialist.
"Knowing what options and things that are out there would be good to know and share with other women. I can't believe how long it took to find there was someone who could be dedicated to helping me manage hormones and medication," she said.
She also thinks it could provide a forum for young women to have candid conversations they may otherwise not feel comfortable telling doctors or loved ones.
"Like for me, not having children, it's something that I had ruled out from a young age and was comfortable with," she said.
Jayde's attitude changed once her anatomy deemed her unable to ever have children.
"That means my choice is taken away. Whereas before if I wanted flip and change my mind I could but know I no longer have that option. That is what is tough to accept."
Contact Jayde Balderston here.
Featured Image: Jayde in hospital saying 'love' in sign langauge.
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