Michelle Obama has opened up about her experience of going through the menopause while First Lady of the United States.
In the latest episode of her eponymous podcast, this time aptly titled What Your Mother Never Told You About Health with Dr. Sharon Malone, the author and lawyer candidly chatted to her 'dear friend', a Washington DC-based gynaecologist about all things women's health – including the day-to-day impact her menopause side effects had.
For this week’s conversation on The #MichelleObamaPodcast, I’m talking to one of my dear friends, Dr. @smalonemd. Sharon is an OBGYN, and she’s someone my friends and I always turn to for perspective on our health and our bodies. As women, we often have questions about our bodies—what we know, what we don’t know, what we’re uncertain or anxious about. In our conversation on The #MichelleObamaPodcast, we talk about everything from puberty to menopause, from body image to hot flashes. And I know that this might sound like a conversation that’s just for women, but to be honest, men can learn a lot from this one, too. It’s a conversation that might help open up some eyes—or foster conversations that you’ve been meaning to have. You can listen to our conversation now on @Spotify at the link in my bio.
A post shared by Michelle Obama (@michelleobama) on Aug 12, 2020 at 7:33am PDT
Obama explained: '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.'
She then recalled one hot flush experience in particular: '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".'
Obama said it's time we ended the taboo around reproductive health, especially the menopause: '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 said that 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."'
Obama believes women need to be more honest about their reproductive health with men.
She said: '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 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.'
She added: '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.'
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