Author Ruth Gilligan: ‘I have slowly colonised our flat’s small second bedroom into my writing...

Sophie Grenham

About 400,000 women in Ireland have this condition and don’t know

IMAGE

The Cabinet Sub-Committee on Covid-19 currently has no women sitting on it. Why?

Lynn Enright

And now Dermaplaning. When will it be okay for women to have hair?

Kate Demolder

Porn addiction: ‘It was like having another relationship. It was affecting me physically and I...

Michelle Heffernan

Add some zing to your home with this bright Pop Art-inspired collection

Shayna Sappington

These are the Netflix picks we can’t wait for in March

Jennifer McShane

Let’s set the table: make mealtimes feel more special with these flourishing touches

Megan Burns

The London Fashion Week beauty trends you’ll actually want to wear

Holly O'Neill

Image / Self / Real-life Stories

‘This is just how we live’: Michelle Obama on coping with menopause


by Jennifer McShane
22nd Aug 2020

Menopause is something every woman will experience in her lifetime, yet it is still shrouded in stigma. There are 34 symptoms of it with insomnia, night sweats and hot flushes being among the most common symptoms. But the not-so-common ones we don’t speak about either, including loss of libido, and vaginal atrophy. To this end, we need more awareness and prominent figures speaking out about their experiences – talking about it is the only way we’ll normalise it


Michelle Obama discussed it on a recent episode of her eponymous podcast, aptly titled What Your Mother Never Told You About Health with Dr Sharon Malone. She candidly spoke to Washington DC-based gynaecologist about all things women’s health – including the day-to-day impact her menopause side effects had on her life.

She explained she had begun to experience an onset of symptoms quite early, as she had been undergoing fertility treatments, before describing a particularly distressing hot flush when she was First Lady.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Michelle Obama (@michelleobama) on

“I have a very healthy baseline, and also, well, I was experiencing hormone shifts because of infertility, having to take shots and all that. I experienced the night sweats, even in my 30s, and when you think of the other symptoms that come along, just hot flushes, I mean, I had a few before I started taking hormones.

“And I remember having one on Marine One. I’m dressed, I need to get out, walk into an event, and, literally, it was like somebody put a furnace in my core and turned it on high, and then everything started melting. And I thought, ‘Well, this is crazy. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t do this’.”

Ending taboos 

It’s time to end the taboos around women’s health, she says, so that menopause is easier for women to talk openly about.

“What a woman’s body is taking her through is important information. It’s an important thing to take up space in a society, because half of us are going through this but we’re living like it’s not happening.”

The former First Lady then explained her husband, former US President Barack Obama, also learned a lot about the menopause during his time in the White House.

“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?” And it’s like, “No, this is just how we live,” you know,’ she explained.

“He didn’t fall apart because he found out there were several women in his staff that were going through menopause. It was just sort of like, ‘Oh, well, turn the air conditioner on’,” adding that believes women also need to be more honest about their reproductive health with men.

“How many men, do you think, could deal with the severest form of cramps? Which literally feels like a knife being stabbed and turned, and then released. And then turned! And then released. And you’ve got to do that, and you got to get up and keep going [snaps]. It’s like, go to work, go to school, go play on the basketball court.

“Every woman who’s playing a sport now is doing it through all those circumstances. And I don’t know any men who could possibly conceive of what that feels like.”

“When you think of all that a woman’s body has to do over the course of her lifetime, going from being prepared to give birth to actually giving birth, and then having that whole reproductive system shut down in menopause, right?

“The changes, the highs and lows, and the hormonal shifts, there is power in that. But we were taught to be ashamed of it and to not even seek to understand it or explore it for our own edification, let alone to help the next generation.”

You can listen to the full episode HERE


Read more: Perimenopause: The symptoms you may not know about

Read more: You’re not imagining it, menopause symptoms really are worse in lockdown

Read more: The Menopause Diaries: The change brought me back to myself, and I will be eternally grateful for that

Also Read

PARENTHOOD
‘Postpartum hair loss is real’: Lea Michele opens up about her decision to get a ‘mom bob’

Did you know that postpartum hair loss affects 4 out...

By Shayna Sappington

perimenopause
HEALTH & WELLNESS
I tried a 4-week perimenopause hormone reset programme, here’s how I got on

Night sweats, weight gain, broken sleep, mood swings and increased anxiety, all while living through a pandemic. Lizzie Gore-Grimes on getting her perimenopause hormones under control.

By Lizzie Gore-Grimes

HEALTH & WELLNESS
Move over Hygge, this is the latest wellness concept we are all obsessing over

Nunchi (pronounced noon-chee) literally means eye-measure in Korean. It is...

By Amanda Cassidy

RELATIONSHIPS
A sex and relationships therapist on how keep your relationship healthy during a pandemic

Aoife Drury is a Psychosexual and Relationship Therapist who is...

By IMAGE

REAL-LIFE STORIES
This Christmas, I’ll miss the traditions of St Stephen’s Day more than anything

This St Stephen’s Day might look different this year, but...

By Edaein OConnell

intentions
ADVICE
No more resolutions: Why we should set intentions for 2021

Forget resolutions and manifesting, intentions are the best way to...

By Lauren Heskin

premium BUSINESS, IMAGE WRITES, REAL-LIFE STORIES, RELATIONSHIPS
Does Only Fans take advantage of women’s economic precarity? Or give back financial power?

Finn McRedmond asks, should we raise concern over a business model that thrives on the economically vulnerable?

By Finn McRedmond

Denga and Masindi Phiringa, a pair of South African sisters currently studying law and psychiatric nursing, launched the skin and hair care brand, Whipped 2 Glow
premium ADVICE, HEALTH & WELLNESS, REAL-LIFE STORIES, BEAUTY
Black women still can’t find their favourite hair care products in Ireland, so they’re making them

By Angela O'Shaughnessy