Gayle King and Drew Barrymore Encourage Women to Seek Support During Menopause: 'Don't Be a Hero!'

“The way menopause has been branded is, ‘You’re old, you’re done.’ That’s not it,” Drew Barrymore explained alongside Gayle King during an appearance on CBS Mornings

Gayle King and Drew Barrymore share their experiences with menopause
Photo: CBS

Gayle King and Drew Barrymore are getting real about menopause, hoping to normalize conversations about it and end the stigma associated with women getting older.

During the "Facing Fertility" series on CBS Mornings, the TV personality, 68, and actress, 48, shared their personal experiences with perimenopause. Perimenopause refers to the time where the body starts to make its natural transition to menopause, which marks the end of a woman's reproductive years.

"I realized that I was in perimenopause when I started having my period every two weeks," Barrymore explained. "One doctor also just told me this could last, in the worst case scenario, 10 years. And I was like, I will never make it 10 years like this!"

"Well I did!" King added with a laugh. "It's true, it can last 10 years. I mean, the perimenopause doesn't last 10 years but they say by the time you're 50, there's definitely something going on."

"I'm just glad we're even having this conversation because I had heard of menopause but I had never even heard of the phrase perimenopause until I went to the doctors."

King said she's glad they're having this conversation because she didn't even know what perimenopause was until recently. The CBS Mornings co-host explained that while she knows there are many symptoms women can experience, she mainly struggled with hot flashes.

"It feels like you're burning inside. For me, it was just a physical heat and then sometimes you have dripping, drenching sweats that can just happen at the most inopportune times," she explained, recalling a moment when she got hot flashes while on the red carpet at an event.

King said it's strange that any mention of menopause or its symptoms seems like they're something bad or abnormal. She and Barrymore then discussed how — varying among women — doctors are able to prescribe a number of treatments for symptoms of menopause.

"I talked to a doctor but I didn't take any hormones," King admitted. "I know friends that use creams or take medications but I just sort of weathered through it when I realized you really don't have to do that."

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Barrymore added, "I was offered hormone therapy and I said no because I really didn't feel like the doctor who was suggesting it understood where I was at and it seemed preemptive. I was like, until I get so desperate and this is all so obvious, I don't want to take something preemptively. At some point, there may be a treatment that's right for you so don't do it so fast but don't be a hero if you don't need to be."

King also noted that it's also difficult to discuss menopause, even with doctors, because it's often associated with being old. She and Barrymore both agreed that the only way to change the narrative is to keep talking about it — with both women and men — and not be embarrassed by it.

Barrymore added the stigma will end as people see "the more women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s are looking so attractive, feeling so vibrant, living their best lives. The way menopause has been branded is, 'You're old, you're done.' That's not it."

The stars then ended the conversation by sharing the one word they would use to describe menopause. For Barrymore, that word is "natural." For King, it's "reality."

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