Michelle Obama Opens Up About Menopause And What It Means For Her Everyday Life

Studies have found that approximately 6,000 American women reach menopause every day — that's nearly 2 million a year — but there remains a stigma attached to the period in a woman's life following the end of her menstrual cycle. While menopause is neither a disease nor a disorder, it is stigmatized so that few women discuss it openly, according to the National Institute on Aging. Dr. Jill Rabin of Katz Institute for Women's Health said, "As I tell my patients, menopause is not a disease. It's the beginning of the next stage of your life. And new beginnings can be exciting, with opportunities for growth and change."

Menopause often occurs in women aged 45 to 55, and now, at least one notable public figure is speaking up to erase the misconceptions many people have about it. Former First Lady Michelle Obama recently spoke to People to preview her upcoming book, "The Light We Carry," which releases on November 15, 2022. While there might be plenty you don't know about her, she revealed that she understands firsthand how menopause can impact a woman's life.

Information is sparse when it comes to menopause, Michelle Obama says

Michelle Obama told People that women generally don't know much about menopause until they experience it, and even then, information is hard to come by. "There is not a lot of conversation about menopause," she said. "I'm going through it, and I know all of my friends are going through it. And the information is sparse."

The 58-year-old former First Lady said her friends have been her biggest source of information and support as her body goes through physical changes such as hot flashes, insomnia, and weight gain. "I find that when we get together and we're moving and we're laughing, then we spend a little time talking about what we're going through," she said. "'What's a hot flash?' We have girlfriends around the table who are OBGYNs, who have real information. All of that keeps us lifted up."

One aspect of her everyday life that has been impacted is her fitness routine, thanks partly to the fact she's in menopause. "Some of it is menopause, some of it is aging," she said. "I find that I cannot push myself as hard as I used to. That doesn't work out for me. That when I tear a muscle or pull something and then I'm out. The recovery time is not the same."

This isn't the first time she's spoken openly about her experiences

Her menopause experiences have also been a topic of conversation on "The Michelle Obama Podcast," according to People. In 2020, she spoke with her guest Dr. Sharon Malone about the importance of women's healthcare, during which she revealed what it was like to experience a hot flash as a public figure. She was on Marine One with her husband, President Barack Obama, getting ready for a public event. "It was like somebody put a furnace in my core and turned it on high," she said. "And then everything started melting. And I thought, 'Well this is crazy, I can't, I can't, I can't do this.'"

Michelle also said during that episode that she felt having open conversations about the physical changes women go through is important for younger generations, which includes her daughters, Sasha and Malia. "Especially when kids are young, the minute they see you clenching up about something, they notice that and they will never ask it again, or they'll never ask you and instead they'll go and talk amongst themselves," she said, later adding, "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."