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Including Davina McCall, Michelle Obama, and more.
Menopause is so often overlooked and under-discussed. Yet, by 2025, 12% of the entire world population will be menopausal. That’s one billion women no longer prepared to put up with the stigma and shame associated with hormone replacement therapy and menopausal symptoms.
Too often, women are told to simply “live with it”. They receive inadequate diagnosis and treatment, workplace detriment and discrimination. But, as the menopause movement grows and the conversation around menopause gets louder and louder, more and more women are opening up, talking honestly and shamelessly about their experiences and symptoms, and helping menopause to become mainstream, not taboo.
As Kate Muir writes in her book, Everything You Need To Know About The Menopause; “The menopause should be about metamorphosis, not misery.” Here, then, are ten celebrities – including the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Oprah Winfrey, and Michelle Obama – who’ve opened up about their personal experience of the menopause, and how they’re helping to revolutionise and celebrate this moment of change.
10 celebrities who’ve shared their menopause experiences
1. Davina McCall
When TV presenter Davina McCall released her menopause documentary in May 2021 – Sex, Myths and the Menopause – in which she talked honestly about her own experiences of the menopause, there was a real outpouring of relief, as floods of women took to social media to share their stories of the menopause, too.
Dubbed as the ‘Davina’ effect, #davinamenopause trended on Twitter, and GPs reported women coming in saying: “I’ll have what Davina’s having”. The documentary was watched by more than two million people and resulted in 22,000 GPs and nurses volunteering to complete a six-hour menopause course, while the demand for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) products surged by 30%.
The former Big Brother presenter has become ‘the’ face of a wider menopause movement, challenging the notion of “keep calm and carry on and shut up”.
“I first started getting signs when I was about 44,” she says in the documentary. “It was January 2012, I was on a photo shoot in Prague and one night I was suddenly unable to sleep. The day after, I felt like I’d aged ten years overnight. I got such a bad hot flush in the make-up chair one day, that I actually asked if the make-up chair was heated, and they looked at me like I was really weird… I thought, aren’t hot flushes and sweats the menopause? But I thought, I’m too young, I’m 44, I can’t be going through the menopause – that happens to women in their 50s.”
She talks about feeling frustrated, tearful, and then angry at how badly women across the UK have been served by science, and opens up the conversation around the menopause for all. “You don’t have to be menopausal, you don’t have to be a woman, this is something everybody needs to know,” she says.
2. Michelle Obama
Former first lady Michelle Obama has used hormone replacement therapy ever since a hot flush floored her on Marine One, the presidential helicopter, while on route to an event with then-president Barack Obama. She talks about going through the menopause in detail on her podcast, explaining how “it was like somebody put a furnace in my core and turned it on high, and then everything started melting. I thought, ‘Well this is crazy, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t do this.’”
Fortunately, Michelle was able to seek help and President Obama got on board too. “Barack was surrounded by women in his cabinet, many going through menopause and he could see it, he could see it in somebody, ‘cause sweat would start pouring, and he’s like, ‘well what’s going on?’ you know, and it’s like, ‘no, this is just how we live’.”
But he “didn’t fall apart because he found out there were several women in his staff that were going through menopause”, she says. “He was just sort of like, ‘oh, well turn the air conditioner on’.”
3. Oprah Winfrey
American talk show host, Oprah Winfrey, revealed how she learned she was approaching the menopause in her own magazine, back in 2019. “For two years I didn’t sleep well. Never a full night. No peace. Restlessness and heart palpitations were my steady companions at nightfall. This was back when I was 48 to 50. I went to see a cardiologist. Took medication. Wore a heart monitor for weeks. And then one day, walking through the offices of The Oprah Winfrey Show, I picked up a copy of The Wisdom of Menopause, Dr. Christiane Northrup’s book, and the pages fell open to the heading ‘Palpitations: Your Heart’s Wake-Up Call.’ I took it as a sign,” she wrote.
“I did multiple shows about my discovery, because at the time, almost no one was talking about menopause. Until that point in my adult life, I don’t recall one serious conversation with another woman about what to expect. Sure, I’d heard about hot flashes. But I wasn’t prepared for palpitations. And, after my menstrual cycle stopped for good, at 53, I wasn’t prepared to have such difficulty concentrating. Reading, my favourite pastime, became a chore. Suddenly my attitude toward most things was ‘whatever’. I wasn’t vibrant. My whole world dulled down a couple of notches.”
4. Mariella Frostrup
British journalist and presenter Mariella Frostrup made the groundbreaking BBC1 documentary The Truth about Menopause and is chair of the Menopause Mandate – a group of women campaigning to revolutionise the support and advice women receive around the menopause.
In June this year, the Menopause Mandate team met with MPs in Westminster, campaigning for long-term changes and for the government to address the inequities faced by women in midlife. In Mariella’s opening speech, she said: “For too long we’ve been told to just ‘get on with it,’ and ‘grin and bear it’. This has to change. Until every single perimenopausal woman has access to a trained expert and HRT is available and affordable for all, then we at Menopause Mandate haven’t achieved our goals.”
5. Penny Lancaster
Freelance photographer, model, actress, and regular TV panellist on Loose Women, Penny Lancaster, has openly spoken about her experience with menopause and how it has impacted both her and her husband, Sir Rod Stewart. She’s also a patron of the Menopause Mandate.
“Millions of people experience menopause every year but it often goes unnoticed,” she writes on her Instagram. “The best thing you can do for your partner, wife, loved ones, sister, mother, friend, and colleague going through menopause is to learn all you can and spend time talking, listening, and understanding.”
In an interview with HELLO! she explained how menopause freaked her out at first. “I thought: ‘This is the end of the road. I’m not going to have any more sex appeal, I’m not going to be as lenient or forgiving.’ I’ve got to say goodbye to the old Penny and say hello to the new one. I felt it was all shutting down around me.”
6. Gwyneth Paltrow
Actress and Goop founder, Gwyneth Paltrow, has opened up about how she is coping with perimenopause in her late 40s during an ‘Ask Me Anything’ session on her brand’s podcast.
“These are phases of a woman’s life that we don’t really talk about – we’re embarrassed about it, and, as I’ve always said, I really do think that the menopause needs a good re-branding,” she says on the podcast.
“For me, I’m solidly in perimenopause. Everything is totally irregular and a surprise all the time. My emotions are all over the place as well. Sometimes I get in bed at night and my heart races and the hormones are really no joke.”
Gwyneth encourages her listeners to speak to their doctor, and do what’s right for them – whether that’s HTR or supplements or anything in between.
7. Gabby Logan
BBC Sport host Gabby Logan has candidly discussed her midlife challenges and expectations on her chart-topping podcast ‘The Midpoint’, and written about how she started to forget players’ names on air in The Times.
“For me, it was two years ago, at the age of 47, that I began feeling that I was just simply not myself. I felt fatigued, I was beginning to forget things. There were moments when I was on air and I would see a player’s face in my head but could not recall their names.”
Gabby told the Women’s Health Going For Goal podcast she had been unprepared for the impact the menopause had on her. “I did not understand fully what was happening or going to happen to me,” she said. “Because I didn’t have very dramatic symptoms, I didn’t realise I was even perimenopausal.”
She explains how “it’s such a slow feeling, that you might not realise your energy levels might have dropped off” and describes why she decided to go on HRT; “I felt like, I’m not feeling the best version of me that I can feel right now, and I don’t want to allow myself to slow for no reason”.
8. Shaparak Khorsandi
“Forget small talk, I want to tell you about the menopause and why I feel like a slug lost in fog,” reads the headline of the feature comedian and author Shaparak Khorsandi wrote for The Independent.
“I never learned the art of small talk, but then talking about the menopause should be small talk. It’s incredible how women feel this major life change should be dealt with in utter privacy from which we finally emerge, experts in cross stitch and quilting,” she writes.
“It’s taken us so long to start talking about it openly and it’s a relief, I can tell you. I explain to my children exactly what’s going on with me so they are less bewildered by my bouts of crying “because I just love you so much!”, followed by howling with rage because I can’t find a shoe.”
9. Andrea Mclean
Alongside her broadcasting career, Loose Women’s Andrea McLean has detailed her experience of menopause in her book, Confessions of a Menopausal Woman.
“Take away the word ‘menopause’ and just look at the symptoms women experience during this time: night sweats, joint and muscle pain, memory loss, depression, fatigue, lethargy, loss of libido. How can anyone be expected to carry on a normal life while living in such physical and mental discomfort without support? It’s insane when you consider that half the population of the whole world will go through this phase of life and be expected to keep a stiff upper lip, not mention anything and simply get on with it,” she writes.
“Not talking about things can make us worry that we’re the only ones feeling the way we do – and that just makes us feel worse, and even more afraid.”
10. Karen Arthur
Podcast host Karen Arthur talks a lot about menopause on her podcast, Menopause Whilst Black. She started an Instagram account (with the same name) during the first Covid 19 lockdown and during the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement following the murder of George Floyd.
The podcast aims to puts black women from the UK front and centre of the conversation of menopause. Why? “Because when I realised that I’d started the menopause over five years ago no one was talking about it,” explains Arthur, on the podcast. “When I googled symptoms, I frightened the bejesus out of myself. Now that women are beginning to be heard, where are the women who look just like me?”
“Menopause has gifted me with this voice I didn’t know I have,” she told Vogue. “The more we hear stories that resonate with us, the less alone we’ll feel. And six years ago I felt completely alone, so I created the podcast so that women wouldn’t feel how I felt back then.”
The final word…
These celebrities show just how important it is to openly discuss and talk about the menopause. No wonder people are confused when we’re suffering in silence.
This shroud of secrecy around women’s health in midlife means there’s a lack of public knowledge about what actually happens to women during this time of transition. If knowledge equals power, it’s pretty essential that we learn more about our bodies during this defining period. So talk we must, and talk we will.