Superstar Halle Berry recently shared how she discovered she had entered into perimenopause during a conversation with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden at the fourth annual “Day of Unreasonable Conversation”. 


Halle described her doctor taking her symptoms as an indication she had herpes and flat out told her she’d had the “worst case of herpes” he’d ever seen.

“First of all, my ego told me that I was going to skip perimenopause,” she said. “I'm in great shape. I'm healthy. I managed to get myself off of insulin and manage my diabetes since I'm 20 years old. So that makes one think, ‘oh, I can handle menopause’. I'm going to skip that whole thing. I was so uneducated about it at that time.”

She described meeting Van Hunt, who she affectionately referred to as the “man of my dreams” during the conversation. She explained that one day after having sex with Van, she experienced extreme pain and booked an immediate visit to her doctor.

"I feel like I have razor blades in my vagina. I run to my gynecologist and I say, ‘Oh my God, what's happening?’ It was terrible,” she said. “He said, ‘You have the worst case of herpes I've ever seen.’ I'm like, ‘Herpes? I don't have herpes!’” 


Naturally, this led to a confrontation between her and Van. But when they both went for testing, their results were negative for STIs.

“I realize after the fact, that is a symptom of perimenopause,” she explained. “My doctor had no knowledge and didn't prepare me. That's when I knew, ‘Oh my gosh, I've got to use my platform. I have to use all of who I am, and I have to start making a change and a difference for other women.”


Halle told the crowd that she was shameless in sharing her story because it was something she felt could help women. And she’s right. Discussing taboo topics like STIs (even when misled), symptoms of perimenopause which can include vaginal dryness, and even her own lack of education about menopause adds a lot of visibility and education value for the inevitable stage in life for a lot of women.

This isn’t the first time Halle has been candid about her experience with menopause. Last summer, she spoke to Women’s Health about being “smack dab in the middle of menopause”, saying:

“I am challenging everything I thought I knew about menopause. Things like: ‘Your life is over.’ ‘You are disposable.’ ‘Society no longer has a place for you.’ ‘You should retire.’ ‘You should pack it up.’”

She ended her address with Dr. Biden with a call to action, encouraging others to “help us change the way culture views women at this stage of our life.” 


Despite being a long way from these experiences that Halle is describing, I find immense value in her vulnerability about something I would characterize as pretty embarrassing if I didn’t know any better. The only thing I and so many other women my age have heard about menopause is that you get hot flashes. So Halle helping to illuminate just how many other changes you can expect your body and sex life to go through is hugely educational and goes a long way in normalizing this conversation.

The other thing she touched on was the lack of knowledge her doctor had about perimenopause. That’s scary, or at least off-putting, because remember, she didn’t go to a family doctor, she went to a gynecologist, whose specialty is quite literally women’s reproductive health. 

It’s poetic, then, that Halle is on a mission to challenge the status quo surrounding the perception of women who are in this phase of life, and the imagined lack of value they now have with their reproductive years coming to an end. 


I in no way want to add to the mounting stress doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals carry, with the health of nations seemingly resting squarely on their backs. But I do want to point out a disturbing trend of Black women being misdiagnosed, particularly in the realm of reproductive health, and paying dire consequences for it, often even death.

Just days ago, Jessica Pettway, a 36-year-old mom, wife and YouTuber considered to be one of the “original influencers” on the platform, died after her stage 3 cervical cancer had been misdiagnosed, and ultimately mistreated as fibroids for seven months. 

According to the National Library of Medicine, Black women are 41% more likely to develop cervical cancer and are 75% more likely to die from it. So the margin for error when it comes to diagnoses and Black women’s reproductive health is truly unforgiving.

Halle’s reminder to us all is that no one is immune to a misdiagnosis, or to falling into the hands of a doctor who, despite their qualifications, may not have all the information they need in order to make a proper diagnosis. But most importantly, it’s a reminder to advocate for yourself, do your research, and destigmatize unreasonable conversations for the sake of your own health and well-being.