Salimah Abdul, now 37, endured several traumatic surgeries by age 32 — removing cysts, fibroids, endometriosis. With each year, the complications — psychological and physical — became devastating, leaving her bedridden for days. At 35, a full hysterectomy was needed, ending her dreams of childbirth. Two years later, Salimah focuses on prayer, family and positive thinking to start over as an entrepreneur, actress — and as a confident Muslim woman.
Did the doctors prepare you for going zero to sixty with menopause — having a full hysterectomy so young?
They did not. They were focused and in a hurry to get me out of pain — I did not know what I was in for. I wish I had been psychologically prepared. Honestly, it’s been rough.
What would have been helpful to know?
They talked about hot flashes, and that sex may be painful. But there were no warnings about the sadness and deep depression that would set in.
What was it like pre-hysterectomy?
Ever since I got my period, I’ve dealt with pain. After developing endometriosis, I suffered terribly — planning my life around my period. In bed all day — crying. And sadness is not my nature.
I had three surgeries: endometriosis, fibroid removal — and then the final hysterectomy, where my uterus and cervix were removed. It was traumatizing -- I felt like half a woman. A deep loss. Now I’ve made peace with it — two years later.
Who could you rely on during this?
My mother — fortunately, she has always been very open-minded and was there for me through this – along with my two sisters.
What about therapy?
Oh yes. My therapist helped me visualize healing. I was feeling pretty empty, my womb — completely not there. She said “You have to create a bright light to heal.” That helped me a lot.
What about your faith?
I am a practicing Muslim and my faith got me through this. But trust me, it was not overnight. I know God is with me. But at first it didn’t help. I felt unattractive. The physical pain was gone but — this mental part…
What are your best coping skills now?
A lot of prayer. Meditation, family. Though I like the idea of sharing with a group of women who are going through something similar, it needs to be very intimate. And I am working on being a good person. You may think this has nothing to do with healing — but it does.
What would you like to say to other women going through this?
It gets better. Whatever your faith is. Trust in it. Surround yourself with positive, like-minded people. And do a vision board!
A “vision board” – what’s on your vision board?
Well, after all this, I had to turn around my goals. My vision board now is about wellness, my acting, saving money, my entrepreneurship. Embracing the upside of menopause – no more pain and being ruled by endometriosis… Immersing myself in positive environments and self-talk. I thrive off of these things. They’ve definitely gotten me through. But who knows what the next six months or year might bring…marriage, intimacy, adopting kids... That’s where I am right now.
Salimah Abdul, 37, had a full hysterectomy at age 35, resulting in an immediate menopause.
Asia Kaleem, now 42, is a vivacious, gregarious mother of 3 — thrust into early menopause eleven years ago. Now, she’s happy to be in a stage where she can “Do whatever the hell she wants to do” — left her home town, moved to NYC to reinvent, and learned to “lean into the sweats.” Tell us, Asia...
MENOPAUSE AT 31? YEP.
I had five snicker sized fibroids taken out in my late 20s — I actually warned my doctor to be careful ‘cause I knew I had a son waiting to be born. I went on about my life — had that son — but obviously something happened with my uterine wall during that operation ‘cause it ruptured a few years later. Internal bleeding, no good. The doctors decided to take out my uterus. So, I was thrust into menopause at 31.
NOT EVEN A PAMPHLET
The docs prescribed opioids for pain after that monster operation. The drugs made me loopy and paranoid. Plus I was in early menopause and clueless — I was too young and naive to ask for details. Zero conversation with the surgeon — no pamphlets, nothing. There should have been a brochure that says: ‘Hey honey, you just lost your uterus — your key body parts – here’s some vital information for you.’
I call hot flashes “internal summers”— it feels like my insides are boiling. Imagine a turkey in the oven. That’s me. They became, and still are, my constant companion.
When I was first recuperating, . I was telling my next door visiting neighbors — a mother/daughter team, how I felt. And the 75-year-old spitfire mom said: “Get off those drugs, honey. You are going through the change — you’re not dying.” Wait, this is menopause? Shit.
My own mother and I were never very close. I didn’t reach out. Sex and body talks with her were, “Don’t let boys check your oil.” That was the beginning, middle, and end. But mom did not suffer in silence through her own menopause. She beat the hell out of me. She was a terror. So I thought that was what menopause was.
DOCS & DRUGS
Now, 11 years later, I’m still boiling, I’ve gained weight, and had some dark days. I’m still in early menopause, heading toward peri. No more pills for me. I don’t want hormones. I started to understand a little more about big pharma. They don’t care what they give you.
I have an OK doctor now. But my expectations are low. I understand that they have the knowledge. They took a test on it. They passed. There may be a doctor out there that was raised by a woman who truly understands and cares deeply. But I haven’t met them yet.
Now I say: Lean into it. Yes, you’re gonna be hot. Big fuckin' deal. It’s gonna pass. Keep you some cool towels in the freezer. Sit in your bedroom naked. Don’t go taking pills and taking chances.. Sweaty? Rub baking soda under your arms — keeps you nice and dry. Brain fog? Take two spoonfuls of coconut oil! I’d bathe in coconut oil if I could.
KNOW BETTER, DO BETTER
I'm glad to say that now — this is not your mother’s menopause. It’s a different game - time to gain knowledge and spreading the word to our younger sisters. At this time in our life, you are no longer used as a vessel. My daughter knows that this is her future. So when the “change” starts — wherever she is — she’ll gimme a call: “Ma, I got my internal summer.”
Asia Kaleem, now 42, was thrust into early menopause eleven years ago.