Why are celebrities talking about menopause? Once taboo, the topic moves into mainstream conversation.

  • 4 min read
  • Dec 17, 2022

Why are celebrities talking about menopause? Once taboo, the topic moves into mainstream conversation.

By Jessica Hall

Talking openly about menopause, which is no longer seen as a “natural plague”, can help educate people and trigger rapid change.

With public figures like Michelle Obama and A-list celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Gwyneth Paltrow and Naomi Watts all talking about menopause, it seems like the once obscure topic is on everyone’s lips.

On his podcast, Obama talked about having a hot flash on board Marine One before an event and thinking, “This is crazy, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t do this.”

Winfrey said that during menopause, she suffered from heart palpitations, lethargy and an inability to concentrate well enough to read, which is one of the factors that led her to end Oprah’s book club.

Gwyneth Paltrow, actress and creator of the health site Goop, said menopause “gets a really bad rap and needs a rebrand.”

Watts, meanwhile, has launched a brand called Stripes that sells products for menopausal women, “because while menopause may be part of midlife, midlife is so much more than menopause.”

Also read: Over the Hill birthday cards are getting old

It’s all a big leap from 1966, when Robert Wilson, author of “Feminine Forever,” called menopause a “natural plague” and postmenopausal women “crippling scroungers.”

“It’s part of a long-term shift in women’s willingness to talk about things. It’s less of an issue,” says Deborah Merrill, a sociology professor at Clark University and author of Mastering Menopause: Women’s Voices Taking Charge. It’s taboo.” change.”

“It’s a change, but it’s part of a very long, slow process,” he said.

The term menopause — which technically begins one year after a woman’s last period — was coined by a French physician, Charles de Gardin, in 1821, but it took almost 200 years for people to talk about it without denigrating women. . Menopause is to blame for everything from mani-thieves to nymphomania and hysteria.

“Menopause has become normal,” Merrill said. “It’s a natural part of a life path rather than something horrible that happens to you. Women are more willing to talk about it and therefore less afraid of it. It’s part of a general trend towards openness rather than A tragedy.”

Talking about menopause is similar to what happened when former first lady Betty Ford talked about alcoholism: talking openly about taboo topics can give people a better understanding of an issue, help them Communicate with a subject and put a reliable face on a subject that may be difficult. Merrill said the address.

In an Instagram post about menopause, Watts wrote, “When you pay attention to uncomfortable conversations, they become easier. “Progress has been made. Why is this particular case taking so long?”

Stephanie Faubion, director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Women’s Health, said the conversation is changing for the better as new generations approach menopause.

“Women who are more savvy with social media are driving the conversation. Women used to find themselves in a vacuum. There’s a lot more conversation now and it’s even more socially acceptable now than it was 10 years ago,” Faubion said. ” “People used to be hesitant to talk about it or mention it, especially in the workplace — there was a bit of ageism associated with it.”

Open discussion about menopause helps women “make it clear that menopause is not a disease or a condition that needs to be treated,” said Susan Wood, a professor of health policy and management at George Washington University.

Menopause first came to light when researchers in the Women’s Health Initiative study wrote in a controversial 2002 report that the use of estrogen plus progesterone therapy after menopause increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, blood clots, breast cancer and dementia. , was publicly raised. Wood said.

“Before the WHI study, menopause was not discussed. Women were described as sick and undesirable. There were some very shocking things said at the time,” she said.

Subsequent studies have shown that younger women and those nearing menopause have a beneficial risk-benefit ratio for using hormones. The North American Menopause Society says that hormone therapy still has a role in the short-term management of menopausal symptoms, but should not be used long-term to prevent chronic disease.

Model and actress Paulina Porizkova wrote on Instagram: “Staying in shape after menopause is hard work.” “I may not be as strong, flexible, or soft as I was when I was young, but I’m comfortable with my vulnerabilities, aware of my weaknesses, proud of my strengths.”

Experts say today’s more open conversation about menopause can help women by providing them with more information, making them more comfortable answering their questions with their doctors and encouraging them to advocate for their health.

Read: Managing menopause symptoms: Tips from women’s health experts

Associate Professor Monica Christmas said: “It’s not a disability, but it affects half the population. It’s good that people like Michelle Obama are talking about it and normalizing it. Now it might be easy. Ask your doctor.” Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Chicago.

Faubion said open conversations prepare women with more courage to ask for better care.

“More and more, women don’t want to suffer. Some women don’t have any symptoms. But most women will have some symptoms and some will really suffer,” Faubion said.

Faubion “Women think there’s nothing that can be done. And there’s a lot of suffering. Women lose a lot of work, don’t get promoted, retire early — billions of dollars in lost money by not treating women right.” Giving brings productivity.” said.

She added: “It’s a good thing that celebrities are talking about it. Women are seeing that they’re not the only ones suffering.”

However, Christmas cautioned that while celebrity conversations may be a good way to jump-start discussions, they shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all of menopause awareness.

“Patients end up getting information from the Internet or from a celebrity. It shouldn’t replace talking to a doctor and getting reliable information,” Christmas said.

-Jessica Hall

 

(End) Dow Jones Newswires

12-16-22 1042 ET

Copyright (c) 2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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