Oprah Winfrey's Candid Revelation About Dealing With Menopause

The overwhelming radio silence surrounding women's health in midlife is a global shortcoming that not even billionaire business moguls like Oprah Winfrey can escape. Decades of misogynistic stigmas and inadequate research have created a vacuum of misinformation that forces peri- and menopausal people to suffer needlessly — yep, even if you're a mega-star with access to the world's best doctors. 

After being overlooked or misdiagnosed by several doctors, Winfrey finally got a sense of relief after picking up Dr. Christiane Northrup's "The Wisdom of Menopause." She outlines her experience in a subscribers-only class featured on her online platform, Oprah Daily, titled "The Life You Want." Winfrey and a star-and-doctor-studded panel describe their experiences with "The Big M." 

As Winfrey puts it in a video clip from the panel posted on her Instagram, "You cannot out-earn, out-exercise, [or] out-fox the Big M. You cannot. The menopause train is coming, no matter what." The multi-hyphenate celebrity's candid revelations on menopause are a refreshing breath of air in a world where menopausal people are often silenced, overlooked, and told to "deal with it."

An everyday occurrence shrouded in mystery

Perimenopause and menopause affect millions of uterus-owning individuals each year. Yet, research (and social acceptance) of this natural phenomenon fall woefully short. While most are aware that menopause begets hot flashes and a stopping of the menstrual cycle, there is far more to this hormonal transition than a rogue heatwave or two

For Oprah Winfrey, her menopause symptoms affected her mental state and her heart. "I started at 48 with heart palpitations," she says in another Instagram clip of the class. "I went from doctor to doctor, literally five different doctors. At one point, a female doctor had given me ... an angiogram and put me on heart medication."

"I remember going through a period where I just felt like, 'whatever.' I could not concentrate on reading, which is my favorite thing to do — my love. I couldn't focus," Winfrey reveals, adding that these mood shifts left her feeling unlike her usual self. And despite having access to the best medical professionals, no one mentioned the likelihood that menopause was causing these concerning symptoms.

Getting the menopause train back on the rails

Oprah Winfrey recounts to the panel and audience that she discovered the link between her symptoms and menopause by chance. After flipping through "The Wisdom of Menopause," she noticed that heart palpitations can occur during perimenopause. The female doctor who prescribed Winfrey heart medication, she says, never suggested her symptoms could be linked to this midlife transition. 

Unfortunately, this type of experience is not uncommon. Widely cited studies on menopausal intervention, like the one published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and sponsored by the Women's Health Initiative, painted hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in a negative light. While the validity of these studies has since been questioned for inadequate research and, in turn, unreliable data, there still exists a problematic knowledge gap on menopause in the medical field today. Consequently, millions of menopausal people are forced to suffer in silence.

For Winfrey, HRT was the start of her return to her usual self. "When I got my first click of estrogen, I was like, the sky is bluer," she recounts, mimicking the sound of an angel choir. Hopefully, as more people use their global platforms to raise awareness and end stigmas surrounding menopause, more people going or preparing to go through "the change" will be able to look up and notice a far bluer sky, too.