I was ‘spiraling out of control’ during menopause
Naomi Watts experienced a sense of losing control when she went through early menopause at the age of 36. In an interview with Hello magazine, the 54-year-old actress discussed the challenges she faced during a time when there was limited information available about menopause. She described experiencing mood swings, night sweats, and migraines, which made her feel like she was spiraling out of control. Menopause typically occurs around the age of 51, according to Mayo Clinic, so going through it at a younger age was unexpected for Watts. However, she shared that this experience ultimately helped her feel more liberated and led her to a deeper understanding of herself. Watts acknowledged the societal pressure on older women but also expressed her belief in the changing narrative surrounding aging in Hollywood. She emphasized the need for more open conversations and resources to support women going through menopause. Watts is now partnering with Menopause Mandate, a non-profit organization that aims to improve support for American women during midlife. She hopes to raise awareness and encourage more honest discussions about menopause. Watts also believes that menopause should be adequately portrayed in the film industry, as it is a natural phase of life that half the population experiences. She sees opportunities for female midlife experiences to be highlighted in storytelling, as they involve significant life events and high stakes. In terms of relationships, Watts emphasized the importance of open and honest communication, which allows for empathy and understanding. She recently married Billy Crudup and believes that being open about one’s experiences is crucial in any relationship, partnership, workplace, or family. Watts and Crudup quietly wed in a courthouse ceremony in New York City after three years of dating. Watts previously dated Liev Schreiber for 11 years and shares two children with him. Overall, Watts hopes to break the silence and stigma surrounding menopause and believes that it should be discussed as openly as menstruation. She wants menopause to be adequately portrayed in Hollywood and believes that women’s stories do not end at a certain age.
Naomi Watts felt like she was “spiraling out of control” when she went through early menopause at age 36.
“Going through menopause at such a young age was not easy, especially during a time when there was so little information available about it,” the 54-year-old actress told Hello magazine in an interview published Monday.
“Mood swings, night sweats, and migraines…I was feeling like I was spiraling out of control,” she added.
Menopause is the period that marks the end of one’s menstrual cycle and is typically experienced at the average age of 51, according to Mayo Clinic.
Watts said that undergoing the hormonal changes earlier than she expected actually helped her feel more liberated.
“Going through this journey led me to a deeper understanding of myself, and I came out on the other side feeling more authentically me,” she said. “A lot of freedom came in the self-acknowledgement.”
She continued, “I had those voices in the back of my mind reminding me how old women are let out to pasture, but there was a lure to this desire to be authentic, to crawl from behind the invisible wall and just acknowledge for myself something that everyone could have probably guessed.”
This realization led Watts to partner with Menopause Mandate, a non-profit organization that aims to revolutionize midlife support available for American women.
“I truly believe that if menopause hadn’t been such an off-limits topic when I first started experiencing symptoms, I would’ve had an easier transition,” she said. “I was part of a cycle that desperately needed to be broken.”
She added that there was “a lack of open conversation and resources” to help women going through menopause.
“That’s why I’m now so passionate about raising awareness and encouraging more honest conversations,” she said.
The “Watcher” star does feel, however, that times have changed and aging is “in.”
“I’m proud to still be working; when the defining narrative used to be that if you were a hair over 40 you were basically forced into retirement, seeing that shift, that’s empowering,” Watts said. “There’s growing recognition that women’s stories don’t end at a certain age.”
While Watts believes Hollywood is a progressive industry, she still sees there’s plenty of work to be done for menopause to be “adequately portrayed” in film.
“I do see evolution, I do see people taking risks and identifying interesting female driven stories which is exactly how it should always have been,” Watts said. “A women’s story is interesting at every stage, the longer the life, the deeper it gets and make for interesting stories.”
Watts pointed out that menopause is a “natural phase of life” that half the population experiences.
“The more normalized the conversation can be, is going to present an opportunity for everyone to understand,” she said. “Let’s hope it becomes as easy to talk about this stuff as it’s been to talk about periods.”
And the “King Kong” actress sees many opportunities for female midlife experiences to be highlighted in future storytelling.
“It’s a side comment here or there, barely even a secondary plot line, but menopause can consume a significant portion of a woman’s life — some people it can last over a decade. How is that not worth writing stories about?” she asked.
“So many things can happen in a women’s life during this time; caring for elderly parents, an emptying nest, a divorce, a career shift, getting back into the work force. High stakes! All great fodder for meaningful and rich storytelling,” Watts said.
Watts, who married husband Billy Crudup in June, also reflected on finding love and growing a relationship at an older age.
“The most valuable move for any relationship, partnership, workplace or family, is to just be open and honest about what you’re going through,” she said. “Most times this gives people a chance to be empathetic and know how to respond. And plus hiding is so much more exhausting.”
Watts and Crudup, 55, quietly wed in New York City last month after three years of dating. They both have children from previous relationships.
She dated Liev Schrieber for 11 years until splitting in 2016. They share two children: Sasha, 15, and Kai, 13.
Meanwhile, the “Almost Famous” actor shares son William, 19, with ex Mary-Louise Parker, whom he left at seven months pregnant for Claire Danes.
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Watts had previously shared with TheFantasyTimes that she “wasn’t prepared” when she was hit with menopause “far too early.”
“One of my greatest symptoms was really itchy skin and my skin is obviously very important to me because of work on camera,” she told us in June 2022. I had multiple other symptoms but that was the one that I need immediate attention.”
She shared that the time that women have been “forced to silence themselves” and feel “ashamed” about menopause for “far too long.”