Michelle Obama: We Need to Talk About the M-Word

Former first lady describes going through menopause at the White House
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 14, 2020 12:18 PM CDT
Updated Aug 16, 2020 6:43 AM CDT
Michelle Obama: We Need to Talk About the M-Word
This May 11, 2019 file photo shows former first lady Michelle Obama during "Becoming: An Intimate Conversation with Michelle Obama," in Atlanta.   (Photo by Paul R. Giunta/Invision/AP, File)

Michelle Obama was cruising on Marine One when it hit her: a hot flash that felt "like somebody put a furnace in my core and turned it on high. And then everything started melting." In that moment, the first lady, who was about to walk into an event, thought, "Well this is crazy … I can't do this," she tells friend and obstetrician-gynecologist Sharon Malone in the most recent episode of her new podcast. Now taking hormones to better deal with menopause, Obama hopes to comfort women going through the same thing and alert the wider public to an issue generally kept hidden from view. "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," she says, per the Guardian.

Obama says she was surrounded by Cabinet members who were also experiencing menopause during her time at the White House. Her husband learned to recognize the signs. "[He] was just sort of like, oh, well turn the air conditioner on." But women feel pressure to keep up with professional demands while experiencing severe hot flashes or period pain that can "feel like a knife being stabbed and turned," Obama says. And "there's a lot of the functions of day-to-day life when you're going through menopause that just don't work," like "wearing a suit." All of this is "stuff that women need to talk about so some of these cultural norms change," Obama adds, per Vanity Fair. Earlier podcast episodes have covered Obama's experiences with racism and what she termed "low-level depression." More on that here. (Read more Michelle Obama stories.)

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