‘Pause is a natural stop’: Drew Barrymore stresses the need to break the menopause taboo

Menopause, which is marked by a decline in the reproductive hormones when a woman reaches her 40s or 50s, is a natural process associated with ageing. However, despite being a natural phenomenon, there are many taboos regarding menopause, leading to the subject often being brushed under the carpet. Opening up about the same was Drew Barrymore, who recentky sat down with Oprah Winfrey, Maria Shriver, Dr Sharone Malone, Dr Heather Hirsch, and Dr Judith Joseph for ‘The Menopause Talk‘. During the conversation, Barrymore shared how perimenopause and menopause have affected her dating life and why she was reluctant to tell a recent date about the panel.

“There’s something in that stigma that I don’t want you to think I’m some dusty, old, dry thing. That’s not the image I want,” the American actor said. However, she soon realised that the only way to end this stigma is by openly having conversations about menopause.

She continued, “I feel very confident, normally, and I want to be who I am and present myself. But in that moment, I thought, I have to tell this story because it was a real-life experience of, I’m so proud to be here. I’m an open book. But in that one moment, I was like, ‘I don’t want to say what it is, because I’m engaging in someone who I want to see me a certain way’.”

Barrymore went on to wonder if there was a way to rebrand the term to break the taboo associated with it. “If Mark Zuckerberg could rebrand Facebook to Meta, maybe we can do this for menopause. Because we’ve got the word men-o-pause. Pause is a natural stop… to a lover that there might be something repellent about that subject. Whereas with no one else do I find this subject taboo.”

Highlighting the need to bring about a change, she said, “You’re just that dry old bag when you talk about menopause. And that is the conversation, the stigma that has to change. We have to make it funnier, more sexy, and more safe. Because the ‘aha moment’ is the safe.”

Barrymore’s candid talk about menopause came just weeks after she experienced her first hot flash on an episode of ‘The Drew Barrymore Show‘. “I am so hot, I think I’m having my first perimenopause hot flashes. For the first time, I think I’m having my first hot flash. Whoa!” she said, taking off her blazer and fanning herself.

Menopause occurs 12 months following a woman’s final menstrual, said Dr Surabhi Siddhartha, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Kharghar. “The years preceding that moment, during which women may experience changes in their monthly cycles, hot flashes, or other symptoms, are referred to as the menopausal transition or perimenopause. Menopause usually begins between the ages of 45 and 55,” she said.