Celebrities Who Got Real About Their Experiences with Menopause

From Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah to Emma Thompson, these celebrity women are normalizing talk around menopause

01 of 14

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama
Courtesy EllenTube

"There is not a lot of conversation about menopause. I'm going through it, and I know all of my friends are going through it. And the information is sparse.

"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.

"I find that I cannot push myself as hard as I used to. That doesn't work out for me. That when I tear a muscle or pull something and then I'm out. The recovery time is not the same. You wind up balancing between staying fit enough and being kind enough on your body to stay in the game."

in a November 2022 interview with PEOPLE to promote her new book

02 of 14

Naomi Watts

From Cuties to Beauties
Chelsea Lauren/Shutterstock

"Does the word menopause freak you out?

"It did me… But, why? It's just a natural phase of life and something half the population will be directly affected by and the other half will feel indirectly (so please stick around … even the dudes!).

"When I was in my late 30s, I was finally ready to start thinking about creating a family. Then the M word swiftly blew my doors down, it felt like a head-on collision with a Mack truck. 🚚💥
How could I figure this out when no one was talking? I was earlier to it than my peers. My mentors and mum didn't seem up for discussing it, I didn't know how to ask for help and they didn't know how to provide…. even doctors had little to say. 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…
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. I think being part of a change-maker generation is exciting. No more walking through this alone."

in a June 2022 Instagram post

03 of 14
Paulina Porizkova
Gregory Pace/Shutterstock

"Staying in shape after menopause takes a lot of frickin' work. Especially when you have wonky hips. I've had to cut down on my Pilates since I came back for the jungle shooting #beyondtheedge because my hips won't cooperate. What I'm doing instead, for now, is some serious PT. I found an amazing personal trainer at my local Crunch, Shelly, who alternates hip PT with strength training.

"So, yes, there are drawbacks to aging. One has to work a lot harder on things that were taken for granted. On the outside. On the inside, however, all the hard work already done is finally paying off.

"I may not be as strong or as supple or as smooth as in my youth, but I am comfortable with my vulnerabilities, conscious of my weaknesses, proud of my strengths - and best of all, have the wisdom to put it all together and delight in the results. #betweenjloandbettywhite #workingout #unstoppable #strength #agingaintforsissies."

on Instagram

04 of 14

Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow

"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 ... 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."

in Goop in October 2018

05 of 14

Emma Thompson

"King Lear" - Special Screening - VIP Arrivals
David M. Benett/Getty

"It's such a cold night. You know, it's the first time I've been actively grateful for the menopause."

while accepting the best actress award for Saving Mr. Banks at the National Board of Review in 2014

06 of 14

Kim Cattrall

SeriesFest: Season Two - Panel With Krista Smith And Kim Cattrall
Jason Bahr/Getty Images for SeriesFest

"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. You wonder, Will I be attractive, desirable, feminine? What is next chapter of life? I think it's one of the reasons why it's so taboo is because we don't talk about it — it's too frightening even to talk to a doctor about it. I want to reach out to women to encourage them to educate themselves about this time in their lives."

to Cosmopolitan in 2014

07 of 14

Gillian Anderson

The Olivier Awards With Mastercard - VIP Arrivals
Jeff Spicer/Getty

"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 [...] 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."

to PEOPLE in 2017

08 of 14

Oprah Winfrey

Andrew H Walker/Shutterstock

"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."

in O, The Oprah Magazine

09 of 14

Julie Walters

Julie Walters
Karwai Tang/WireImage

"Oh God! It was like a chimney and came from the base of my spine. I was doing this TV show called Murder, and every take there'd be, 'Stop! She's having a flush!' At the National, I'd come off stage for a quick change and have to shout, 'Garth, the tray!' And this guy would come with this big tin tray and fan me. Harry Potter, I was in a wig and padding, and they had to put this big tube of air conditioning in my face!"

to SAGA in 2015

10 of 14

Bette Midler

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

"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!"

—in a 2001 interview with Oprah

11 of 14

Whoopi Goldberg

Whoopi Goldberg
Roy Rochlin/Getty

"How can you keep a man [erect] for 19 hours and not be able to cool down a hot flash? How is that possible?"

during her stand-up routine

12 of 14

Salma Hayek

Salma Hayek attends the "Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard" special screening at Cineworld Leicester Square on June 14, 2021 in London, England
Dave J Hogan/Getty

"[The doctor was] asking me things like, 'Are your ears growing and there's hair growing out of them? Are you growing a mustache and a beard? Are you easily irritable? Are you crying for no reason? Are you gaining a lot of weight really fast that doesn't go away no matter what you do? Are you shrinking?' And then they ask you, 'Is your vagina dry?' "

"I have gone through [mood swings and hot flashes], I still kind of am, but you got to notice those moments and take a deep breath and kind of say, 'Okay, it'll pass. You got to hold it together.' And the hot flashes aren't fun."

"There's no expiration dates 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. 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 expiration date for you as a woman. It's a misunderstanding that has been going around for centuries."

—on Red Table Talk

13 of 14

Sophie, Countess of Wessex

Sophie Countess of Wessex
Sophie, Countess of Wessex. Danny Martindale/WireImage

"Women having to leave the workplace because of the menopause is tragic. We are fabulous in our 40s, and we are even more fabulous in our 50s, 60s and 70s and we need to celebrate that and keep opportunities going for women."

"Together, we can support the thousands of women out there who form the backbone of our workforce. We cannot let anyone leave the workplace, feeling that they have got to slope off into the shadows. We have to be able to change that."

"Really we should be celebrating the fact that we don't have to have periods anymore — it should be a liberation, but it feels like a shackle. It's described as something incredibly negative ... I think it's time to say 'Enough, we need to bring this out onto the table and say, let's talk about this.' "

during a roundtable discussion to support the 'Menopause Workplace Pledge' campaign with charity Wellbeing of Women

14 of 14

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton moderates a panel during BroadwayCon 2022 at The Manhattan Center on July 08, 2022 in New York City.
Michael Loccisano/Getty

"After a certain age, we all seem to inherit these new things on our bodies. It was toward the end of [President Bill Clinton's] second term, after I turned 50 in 1997, that I began to go through menopause, and 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 — [that is] forcing this conversation out of the shadows and into the daylight.

"Looking back, I mean, it wasn't yet at that point in our social or psychic development that I would've said, 'Oh, okay, the first lady's going through menopause. Here I go. Watch out, everybody!'

"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."

in an interview with PEOPLE promoting her series Gutsy

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