In her 40s, Dipannita Sharma attributed changes in her body functioning – be it the menstrual cycle or metabolism – to the side effects of ageing. The health hazards of the 40s, as many people like to call it! But in March 2023, the actor ended up undergoing a complicated fibroid removal surgery. In an exclusive interview with HT Health Shots during the Fibroids Awareness Month in July, the Neeyat actor has revealed how she discovered her fibroids, details of her 6-hour surgery and how life-changing the experience has been.
Given the attention she had always paid to her everyday lifestyle choices and well-being, Dipannita Sharma believed her health parameters were seemingly under control. That changed two years ago.
Signs of fibroids
It was around 2 years ago during a medical checkup that Dipannita Sharma found out she had uterine fibroids. At that time, she was told she needn’t bother about it since they weren’t bothering her. She had no tangible signs of fibroids such as excruciating pain during periods, excessive menstrual bleeding or even digestive issues. This changed last year.
“When you don’t have pain, you automatically think everything is okay. But last year while I was shooting for a film abroad in a cold area, I constantly felt extra cold. My menstrual cycle became impossible to handle. My excessive bleeding was the first sign for me. I was constantly worried about stepping out and work, thinking whether I should sit, get up and how do I handle this. I knew there was something wrong and it was not normal. So, I came back and went for another checkup,” Dipannita reveals in the interview.
Her worst fears became true. The fibroids had grown, but she still didn’t have the pain often associated with uterine fibroids. She was recommended MRI and ultrasound, following which it was decided that it was best for her to undergo fibroid removal surgery as they were hampering her life.
“It may have been 18 or 19 fibroids that came out of me! And people were like, ‘How did you carry so much for so many years?’ Thankfully, they got all 18… It was close to around 3.5 kg of fibroids and I was apparently carrying them for a long time. They just kept growing until they led to my bladder to bleed, pushed up my uterus a bit and made my digestion go for a toss,” says Dipannita.
Check out Dipannita Sharma’s moments post fibroid removal surgery!
Prioritise your health, urges Dipannita Sharma
Now that all of it is out, her system feels better – physically and mentally too. But in hindsight, the ’16th December’ and ‘Ladies vs Ricky Bahl’ actor says the severity of the fibroids wasn’t diagnosed timely because she wasn’t regular with her health checkups.
“It is something most of us forget to do. We are so busy with the nitty-gritty of daily life, worrying about sundry things when health should be first! This realisation has come to me after the surgery. When we feel seemingly healthy, we don’t go for regular checkups, but they should be a part of our regime. Just how you do your skincare or gym routines, include healthcare in it too. I used to not to do it, which is why it was detected so late,” admits Dipannita.
“I have been this person who has put everything else ahead of my health and my own wellness. Please don’t do that. I have realised that health is topmost priority. If you have health, you have everything. Once the surgery was done and I moved forward, everything is okay. Work, love, family… everything falls into place… you feel better from inside. From your physical space to mindspace, life feels better!”
Not all fibroids require surgery
Uterine fibroids can be of varying kinds – asymptomatic or symptomatic, which can be managed with medical therapy or surgical intervention. Their treatment mostly depends on the size, number and location of the uterine fibroid. Dipannita says she was also under the impression she wouldn’t have to undergo surgery. But drawing from her personal experience, she urges women to go for checkups at regular intervals to find out the medical assistance they need.
“Whether you are planning to have kids or not having kids, a lot of women shy away from talking about fibroids because it is connected to the fertility and reproductive system. But the reality is there is so much more to it. Of course, it is connected to fertility but it doesn’t mean you have to get your fibroids taken out only if you are planning to have a kid! In my case, I needed to take it out no matter what because it was hampering my daily functioning,” she sets the record straight.
As for her own pregnancy plans, Dipannita, who married businessman Delhi-based businessman Dilsher Singh Atwal in 2008, says, “Currently, we don’t know. We are at a certain age, and there are so many pros and cons. Yes, my AMH levels (Anti-Mullerian Hormone levels that indicate eggs in a woman’s ovarian reserve) are better, but there are practical things when it comes to the two of us. It is a decision that is still hanging there. Although biologically things are still late, we are figuring it out.”
Busting myths about fibroids
Apart from the fact that uterine fibroids can interfere with health factors other than fertility, Dipannita says awareness about fibroids needs to be made mainstream. Otherwise, people will continue to get caught in the trap of fibroid myths.
“It only helps other women if we create awareness about something that people think is so common that it must be normal. There are a lot of people who have told me, ‘Fibroids are not that complicated. They happen to a majority of women because they may not have had childbirth or due to stress levels.’ I thought there must be so many women who are obviously not taking it seriously enough and it would be only better if we share our challenges while dealing with fibroids. It is looked at a simple thing… but it wasn’t simple for me! Only I know the difference in my life since the fibroids have been gotten out of me,” Dipannita asserts.
Sharing her experience also made Dipannita Sharma learn about the myths about fibroids that people tend to believe as facts. After her social media post, she received eye-opening messages from women.
One woman, Dipannita says, went to the extent of telling her, “I am so relieved that you have fibroids”. That’s because she had been constantly told that she had fibroids only because she was overweight. Whereas fibroids can happen to anyone irrespective of weight. There are others who blame women’s modern-day lifestyles for such health issues.
But Dipannita shoots back: “I don’t smoke or drink! I don’t like all of this… My health has been that important to me. But fibroids have happened to me. There are too many myths around it. Women should stop shying away from talking about it.”
Life changed for Dipannita Sharma after the fibroids surgery
The actor, who is looking forward to more onscreen work in the coming months, says undergoing this health hiccup has helped her grow in a positive direction physically and mentally.
One of the biggest lifestyle changes she has made is to regularise her sleep timings. A compulsive late sleeper, she now sleeps and wakes up early. The other change she has adopted is practising mindfulness. “Breathing exercises have been very helpful for me. It is a wellness choice that has really helped me in a positive way, apart from the medications and vitamins I have had to take,” she shares.