It's been two years since Angelina Jolie announced she underwent a double mastectomy. Because of her family history and the presence of a cancer-causing mutation in the BRCA1 gene, she opted for the preventative surgery. And last week, she had a second preventative procedure: the removal of her ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Because of this surgery, even with hormone replacements, Jolie is now in menopause. And she wrote an op-ed for The New York Times so other women in her situation know their family-planning options.
"I feel deeply for women for whom this moment comes very early in life, before they have had their children. Their situation is far harder than mine," says Jolie, 39, mom of six. "I inquired and found out that there are options for women to remove their fallopian tubes but keep their ovaries, and so retain the ability to bear children and not go into menopause. I hope they can be aware of that."
She adds that her decision did not come lightly, and it's a drastic route that women don't have to take. "I did not do this solely because I carry the BRCA1 gene mutation, and I want other women to hear this," she says. "A positive BRCA test does not mean a leap to surgery. I have spoken to many doctors, surgeons and naturopaths. There are other options. Some women take birth control pills or rely on alternative medicines combined with frequent checks. There is more than one way to deal with any health issue."
Does menopause leave her feeling less feminine? No way. Is she scared about the bodily changes ahead? Also a no. "I will not be able to have any more children, and I expect some physical changes," Jolie says. "But I feel at ease with whatever will come, not because I am strong but because this is a part of life. It is nothing to be feared."
She couldn't be more supported or applauded.