In case you missed it, on June 8, Naomi Watts opened up about menopause on Instagram, in an attempt to encourage more open and honest conversation around it. In her post, the 53-year-old actor says her own menopause journey started when she was in her late 30s — and she hopes to flip the script on the topic, which often seems taboo.
“Does the word menopause freak you out?” reads her IG post. “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.”
The actor goes on to explain her confusion on why she seemed earlier to menopause than her peers, and why no one else around her was talking about it. “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,” she writes. “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.”
Watts goes on to explain that when you spotlight uncomfortable conversations, they often get easier and progress can more easily be made. But why is this topic in particular so hard to discuss, she wonders? “Let’s conquer the stigma and address the secrecy and shame we’ve felt and help create a healthier foundation for future generations,” she says. “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.”
Concluding her post, Watts announces a project she’s working on that she “feels super proud of” and will share more about in the coming weeks.
Using hashtags like #reframeaging, #youveearnedit, #MenopauseSupport, #over50andfab, #perimenopause, and #liveyourbestlife in her post, it seems Watts would like other women experiencing menopause (or perimenopause) to feel less alone and encourage them to open up about their menopause journeys, too.
Celebrities like Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Octavia Spencer, and Julianna Margulies commended Watts on her transparency. Margulies wrote, “Bravo! let’s start talking!” while Spencer said, “You’re so stunning as a human being and as a gorgeous woman.”
Clinically speaking, menopause is the official end of one’s menstrual cycles. Doctors will typically diagnose it once a patient has gone 12 months without a period. Although it’s common when people with vaginas are in their 50s, the phase can start as early as the 40s — and even younger, like in Watts’ case. Common symptoms include hot flashes, lower energy, mood swings, and trouble sleeping. To help alleviate any of these discomforts, doctors may recommend lifestyle adjustments or hormone therapy.
But prior to menopause, many people with vaginas will experience perimenopause in the months (or years) leading up to it. Some common signs include hot flashes, chills, vaginal dryness, irregular periods, mood changes, slowed metabolism, and thin/dry hair. Not getting a period for a month — or several — is common, as are shorter menstrual cycles.
This isn’t the first time Watts has opened up about female health. A week ago, she posted a photo of herself in a medical gown with the caption, “Reminder to get your lady parts checked!” Cheers to women encouraging women.