Halle Berry was told she had herpes, but it ended up being perimenopause | People


“First of all, my ego told me I was going to skip it,” Halle Berry, 57, told U.S. First Lady Jill Biden. The actress was talking about menopause. The conversation took place as part of the “A Day of Unreasonable Conversation” series organized by the social impact agency Propper Daley, at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, California, where other celebrities like actresses Kerry Washington and Jane Fonda and socialite Paris Hilton also participated. In this context, on Monday the Oscar-winning actress and the first lady sat down to talk about women’s health, menopause and the need to embrace other, less-visible stages of life. The conversation came after President Joe Biden signed an executive order to increase research on women’s health last week.

“At 54, I finally met the man of my dreams,” continued Berry, who went on to talk about her full sex life with her new partner, 54-year-old musician Van Hunt. The actress reminisced with the audience about being in a lot of pain after having so much sex and going to the doctor, who told her she had the worst herpes she had ever seen in her life. Both Berry and Hunt got tested, but it turned out that neither of them had herpes. “I realize after the fact that [it] is a symptom of perimenopause,” Berry explained. The pain was caused by vaginal dryness, a common side effect during this stage. That’s where her new line of business came from: “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.’” Thus was born Rē-spin, a digital platform focused on health and wellness for women going through perimenopause and menopause.

The platform was inaugurated last January, and the actress herself explained what it was all about on the website: “Over the past two years, I have been increasingly fueled by my passion to share my experiences with menopause and break the stigma that surrounds it,” Berry wrote. “This reimagined focus around menopause is necessary because it not only affects all women, it also affects every person who knows a woman, is married to a woman, works with a woman, or has a daughter, and, of course, a mother. Much like puberty, menopause is an essential phase of life — a change that directly impacts a little over half of the world’s population. My goal is to empower women to embrace this natural transition and become inspired by the eternal beauty that comes with it,” she said.

At the moment, the business side of Halle Berry’s community — who is already the face of Pendulum, a brand of supplements and vitamins — is not entirely clear. The two pillars of her brand seem to be a website with informational content and social media accounts with a very Instagram-like aesthetic. Nevertheless, the actress seems to be following in the footsteps of other female actresses who recently launched similar businesses that have women over 40, and especially age 50 and beyond, as a target audience. Undoubtedly, the most popular of all seems to be actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who was already known for her particular luxurious approach to wellness through her all-powerful Goop brand; in recent years, she has been giving more and more space to menopause there. Paltrow, who can do no wrong, has already spoken about menopause in various media. In an interview in the U.S. edition of Vogue, she said, “I think menopause gets a really bad rap and needs a bit of a rebranding.” She added, “I don’t think we have in our society a great example of an aspirational menopausal woman.” A few months after she said that, Goop launched Madame Ovary, a package of vitamins and supplements purportedly designed to help regulate women’s hormones in their 40s, 50s and 60s.

Naomi Watts is another actress who has hopped on this bandwagon. Just over a year ago, she launched Stripes, a Goop-style cosmetics brand designed for women who, like her, are beginning to show the first signs of menopause on their skin: “Over the course of my career as an actor, I’ve outrun tsunamis and come face-to-face with ‘King Kong.’ But nothing prepared me for early menopause. I’d wake up in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat. My skin was dry and itchy. My hormones were all over the place. I remember feeling so confused and alone, like I didn’t have control over my own body. I created Stripes because we deserve support, solutions, and the space to figure it all out. Because while menopause may be part of midlife, midlife is a lot more than just menopause,” the actress notes on her website.

Gwyneth Paltrow, Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Demi Moore are also investors in the start-up Evernow, a telemedicine company that offers instant message consultations with a specialized team that coordinates the delivery of prescription hormone therapies by subscription, focused on women in menopause. Thanks to these actresses, Evernow has already raised around $28.5 million.

Hollywood actresses aren’t the only ones involved in this issue. Through her venture capital firm, Serena Ventures, tennis player Serena Williams has also invested in a company called Wile, founded by actress Judy Greer, who created a brand of herbal supplements to relieve the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. The supplements are already on sale in Whole Foods supermarkets in the United States.

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