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Why Gwyneth Paltrow wants to rebrand the menopause for women everywhere

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Kayleigh Dray
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Gwyneth Paltrow is keen to provide society with an “aspirational menopausal woman”.

Gwyneth Paltrow has confirmed that she is going through the early stages of menopause at 46 – and has put herself forward as an “aspirational menopausal woman” after getting real about the mood shifts, sweating and hormonal changes she has been experiencing.

“When you get into perimenopause you notice a lot of changes,” she says, in a video posted to the Goop website.

“I can feel hormonal shifts happening, the moods, you’re all of a sudden furious for no reason…”

Adding that she has also been experiencing increased sweating, Paltrow went on to explain why she feels society’s view of the menopause needs to change.

“I think menopause gets a really bad rap and needs a bit of rebranding,” she said. “I remember when my mother [actress Blythe Danner] went through menopause and it was such a big deal and I think there was grief around it for her…

“I don’t think we have in society a great example of an aspirational menopausal woman.”

It is at this point that we feel forced to disagree. Because, while Paltrow is seemingly the first woman to announce her intentions for a rebrand, she is definitely not the first in the public eye to speak positively about the menopause.

Gillian Anderson, for example, has called for women to acknowledge and honour perimenopause and menopause “as the rites of passage that they are”, while Kim Cattrall has said that we “should not fear that change”.

“What I would say, which I’ve said to myself and to girlfriends who’ve also experienced hot flashes, in particular, is that change is part of being human,” she said. “We evolve and should not fear that change. You’re not alone. I feel that part of living this long is experiencing this, so I’m trying to turn it into a very positive thing for myself, which it has been, in the sense of acceptance and tolerance and education about this time of life.”

Elsewhere, in an op-ed for the New York Times, Angelina Jolie announced that she was experiencing a forced menopause after undergoing an operation to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes in an attempt to reduce the chance of her getting cancer.

“I will not be able to have any more children, and I expect some physical changes,” she said. “But I feel at ease with whatever will come, not because I am strong but because this is a part of life. It is nothing to be feared.”

According to the NHS, the menopause normally occurs between 45 to 55, however in around 1% of women in the UK, this can happen before the age of 40. 

Common symptoms include:

  • hot flushes
  • night sweats
  • vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex
  • difficulty sleeping
  • low mood or anxiety
  • reduced sex drive (libido)
  • problems with memory and concentration

Menopausal symptoms can begin months or even years before your periods stop and last around four years after your last period, although some women experience them for much longer. 

If you find yourself experiencing severe menopausal symptoms that interfere with your day-to-day life, it is advised that you speak to your GP, as there are a number of treatments available.

Image: Getty

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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