Menopause is when a woman officially stops having menstrual periods, and the transition can be a rough ride for some. Most people experience symptoms, but some are reluctant to talk about it because of stigmas surrounding the topic. However, a string of celebrities have opened up about their own experiences with menopause.
Top celebrities have discussed their journeys
Several celebrities have discussed their own experiences with the public. Naomi Watts said that “nothing prepared me for early menopause,” and explained her symptoms. “I’d wake up in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat. My skin was dry and itchy. My hormones were all over the place. I remember feeling so confused and alone, like I didn’t have control over my own body.”
When asked during an Instagram Q&A about how she was dealing with menopause, Gwyneth Paltrow talked about how uncomfortable the hormonal changes can be. She wrote “I can’t deal, someone help me and all us ladies good lord.”
Courteney Cox made her experience public through jest, posting a video on her Instagram that referenced her Tampax commercial from the 1980s. In it, she says, “Menopause will eat you alive. It’s horrible,” and concluded that going through “the change” can cause people to feel differently about aging.
Salma Hayek also used humor when she talked about her experience on the Facebook series Red Table Talk. She said she was stunned when she first went to her doctor after experiencing symptoms. “The questions were terrifying,” she admitted. “They were asking me things like, ‘Are your ears growing and there’s hair growing out of them? Are you growing a mustache and a beard?” The 54-year-old actress also said she’d experienced mood swings and weight changes during her journey.
Halle Berry is just the latest to speak up
Halle Berry, now 56 years old, is happy to share her experiences as she navigates the change. “We’re all going through it,” she said. “And we learn from one another when we talk about it, when we become curious, and when we share with each other what we’re going through.” Berry continued, saying, “The most important thing about owning your sexuality as a woman is accepting the station you’re at — and embracing that. And I say that because I’m smack dab in the middle of menopause.”
She said her experience has her “challenging everything I thought I knew about menopause. Things like: ‘Your life is over.’ ‘You are disposable.’ ‘Society no longer has a place for you.’ ‘You should retire.’ ‘You should pack it up.'” Instead of menopause confirming those thoughts, it has done the opposite for her. Now, she says she is her “best self” and recognizes that her opinion is valuable even if others don’t agree with her.
Doctors are divided about whether all this openness is a good thing
Doctors are torn about whether celebrities sharing their menopause journeys is a good thing. On the one hand, talking openly about their experiences helps raise awareness and remove the stigma surrounding that point in a woman’s life.
Dr. Lauren Streicher, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, says that celebrities help to foster discussion about the topic, as “people are paying [more] attention since celebrities, of course, have far more credibility in our society than anyone. People are finding it easier to talk about.”
However, the issue is that these celebrities are not doctors, so audiences need to be careful. In many cases, the celebrities are actually selling products that are targeted to women who are going through menopause, which is a rapidly growing industry. For example, Naomi Watts founded a company called Stripes that sells a line of menopausal products. Gwyneth Paltrow’s company, Goop, also sells a supplement called Madame Ovary, which is designed to relieve symptoms of menopause.
There’s one thing women need to remember
Celebrities opening up about their perimenopausal and menopausal experiences is overwhelmingly a positive thing. It helps to foster a welcoming and safe space for women everywhere to learn that they are not alone at that point in their lives. While what they experience is unique to them, they are not the only ones going through “the change.”
However, at the end of the day, women approaching this pivotal point need to remember that medical professionals are the best and most reliable resource to guide them through it.