11 Celebs Who Have Gotten Real About Menopause

These celebrities are breaking through the stigma of talking about menopause

Menopause is a part of life for almost all women but it’s often a very taboo subject to discuss.

This important transition period in a woman’s life marks a change in hormone levels, usually after the age of 40. Although all women are affected differently, it can result in symptoms like hot flashes, fatigue, irritability and insomnia, according to John Hopkins Medicine.

Despite so many women experiencing menopause, it’s a topic that can feel shameful instead of a natural part of the aging process. Some women admit they refrain from discussing what they’re going through, even though they really need information or someone to lean on. That’s why so many famous women are now trying to normalize the conversation around menopause in order to take away the taboo from the topic — and it’s clear they’re already making a difference.

Here’s what these stars had to say about menopause…

1. Drew Barrymore

Going into perimenopause, Drew Barrymore shared that she wanted to get rid of the stigma around menopause. She explained that just because she’s experiencing the life change, she doesn’t want people to think she’s “some dusty, old, dry thing” — especially when it comes to her dating life. Drew shared that while on a recent date, she found herself hesitant to discuss what she was going through.

“Because, we’ve got the word men-o-pause. Pause is a natural stop…To a lover that there might be something repellent about that subject. Whereas with no one else do I find this subject taboo,” she said during a panel discussion. “You’re just that dry old bag when you talk about menopause and that is the conversation, the stigma that has to change. We have to make it funnier, more sexy and more safe.”

2. Kim Cattrall

Kim Cattrall doesn’t see menopause as a big deal as it’s something natural that most women go through. Instead of thinking of it as “shameful,” she says it’s just a “part of life.” Kim wants to get rid of the taboo surrounding menopause by talking about it more, even if it’s frightening to discuss.

“I don’t think it’s shameful. It’s as natural as having a child — it really is; it’s part of life. Physically, it’s part of how we’re made; hormonally, it’s how we’re constructed; chemically, it’s how we work. Like anything in nature: The seed is planted, it grows, it comes to fruition, after a period of time it starts to change and age, and it’s scary,” Kim told Cosmopolitan. “You wonder, ‘Will I be attractive, desirable, feminine? What is next chapter of life?’”

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3. Gwyneth Paltrow

As a woman in her 40s, Gwyneth Paltrow understands exactly what women deal with while going through menopause. She says she’s been through all the changes and believes that other women need a positive influence to look towards as they go through the same thing.

“I think when you get into perimenopause, you notice a lot of changes. I can feel the hormonal shifts happening, the sweating, the moods — you’re all of a sudden furious for no reason,” Gwyneth said in a Goop video. “Menopause gets a really bad rap and needs a bit of rebranding. I remember when my mother went through menopause and it was such a big deal and I think there was grief around it for her and all these emotions. I don’t think we have in our society a great example of an aspirational menopausal woman.”

4. Naomi Watts

Naomi Watts candidly opened up about experiencing early menopause just as she was ready to start having children. On Instagram, Naomi shared that when she learned she was experiencing menopause, she felt like she had a “head-on collision with a Mack truck” — and no one wanted to talk about it. She questioned how she could figure it all out if no one was discussing it or open to offering help.

“It’s oddly like an unwritten code of silence: women should suck it up and cope, because that’s how generations passed have done it. I think it’s time to see women in this phase of life or this age group be well represented. We’ve been under-served in media, stories and marketing far too long. Particularly since more than 1 billion people worldwide will be menopausal by 2025,” Naomi wrote on Instagram.

She continued, “When you spotlight uncomfortable conversations, they get easier. Progress is made. Why has this particular one taken so long? Getting older is a privilege and a time for us to feel proud of our cumulative experiences — to feel empowered, unapologetically so.”

5. Salma Hayek

Salma Hayek says when she first began experiencing menopause symptoms, she went to the doctor, who ended up revealing a lengthy list of other shocking symptoms she may go through. While she’s experienced her fair share of symptoms, like hot flashes and mood swings, she says that aging isn’t a problem and women shouldn’t be looked at differently as they grow older.

“There’s no expiration date for women. That has to go. Because you can kick ass at any age. You can hold your own at any age, you can dream at any age, you can be romantic at age. We have the right to be loved for who we are at the place that we are,” Salma said on “Red Table Talk.” “We’re not just here to make babies, we’re not just here to baby the man. We’re not just here to service everything and everyone around us and then when the kids go away…It’s almost like an expiration date for you as a woman. It’s a misunderstanding that has been going around for centuries.”

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6. Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama admits that when she first began menopause, the information available to women was “sparse.” Instead, she had to turn to her girlfriends, some of whom are doctors, in order to find support and ways to deal with what she was experiencing.

“There’s a lot we don’t know. There is not a lot of conversation about menopause,” she told People. “I find that when we get together and we’re moving and we’re laughing, then we spend a little time talking about what we’re going through. ‘What’s a hot flash?’ We have girlfriends around the table who are OBGYNs, who have real information. All of that keeps us lifted up.”

7. Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey says she and her friends like to look at menopause in a positive light. Instead of seeing it as a difficult experience, Oprah explained that it’s important to think of it as a time to “reinvent yourself” and start fresh.

“So many women I’ve talked to see menopause as a blessing. I’ve discovered that this is your moment to reinvent yourself after years of focusing on the needs of everyone else,” Oprah shared in O magazine.

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8. Hillary Clinton

Back when Hillary Clinton was still the first lady, she says she began to experience menopause. At that time, it was something no one talked about out loud — and she says she’s really glad that the discussion surrounding menopause is much more socially acceptable now.

“It was something you didn’t talk about in those days. My friends and I would talk about it or roll our eyes, but not publicly. Thank goodness we’re getting into a time women’s health — and especially now with all the challenges about reproductive health — are forcing this conversation out of the shadows and into the daylight,” she told People.

She continued, “Finally, we’re dealing with menopause and reproductive health and a lot of the other things that women have always had to go through, but sometimes alone, and sometimes without even the awareness in their families or the medical community, certainly the larger society, about what that is like.”

9. Gillian Anderson

When Gillian Anderson found herself experiencing perimenopause symptoms at age 46, she says she “felt like [her] life was falling apart around” her. At the time, she didn’t know what was causing her symptoms and she simply felt like “somebody else had taken over [her] brain.” She hopes that going forward there can be more clear information for women going through menopause so they know exactly what’s going on.

“How wonderful would it be if we could get to a place where we are able to have these conversations openly and without shame? Admit, freely, that this is what’s going on. So we don’t feel like we’re going mad or insane or alone in any of the symptoms we are having,” she shared. “Perimenopause and menopause should be treated as the rites of passage that they are. If not celebrated, then at least accepted and acknowledged and honored.”

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10. Bette Midler

In 2001, Bette Midler opened up about going through menopause, explaining that she had “no fear” about the experience. She even went as far as to say it was “fabulous.” While she did go through night sweats and hot flashes at first, she took oils that helped her — and now she doesn’t worry about it at all.

“I don’t suggest that anyone obsess over menopause or aging. Still, it is true that in this culture, they throw you out when you get older. I see it all the time, especially in my business. At my age, you’re playing somebody’s mother — and there aren’t even a lot of those roles…It’s the law of the jungle, the way of the world. Life is not fair. And you have to choose your battles, because there are some that you cannot win,” Bette told Oprah.

11. Helena Bonham Carter

While Helena Bonham Carter is postmenopausal, she says she’s happy that there is now a more open narrative surrounding menopause — as it used to be a very negative topic for women to discuss.

“There was a shame about it, because I think it’s wrapped up with it is this false idea that you’re obsolete once you stop producing eggs,” she admitted. “It’s really unfair because people can become very seriously deranged because of the hormones. But also it’s a thing of wonder, the gift of being able to make a child — and this is the payback.”

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