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Halle Berry Was Misdiagnosed with Herpes – It Was Really Perimenopause

Actor Halle Berry is opening up about her experience of being falsely diagnosed with herpes when, in reality, her symptoms were the result of perimenopause.

The resounding lack of understanding and awareness around menopause and women’s health is a subject Halle Berry is determined to tackle — and she’s doing just that by sharing candidly about her own experiences.

The Oscar winner opened up about how it took a misdiagnosis to discover she was in perimenopause during a conversation with First Lady Jill Biden at Propper Daley's fourth "A Day of Unreasonable Conversation" summit Monday, according to People.

During the conversation, Berry explained that for a long time, she naively believed that because she was healthy and fit, she would essentially “skip” menopause and not be impacted by it.

“I was so uneducated about it at that time,” she said.

But when she was 54, Berry began dating musician Van Hunt, calling him the “man of [her] dreams.” Not long after they got together, Berry said she experienced excruciating pain that felt like “razor blades in her vagina” after sex. She immediately visited her doctor, and he told her it was the worst case of herpes he’d ever seen.

In shock and disbelief, Berry confronted Hunt, and the two got tested for sexually transmitted infections. They both tested negative.

Ultimately, it took Berry’s own research to discover that, in fact, pain after intercourse — caused by vaginal dryness — is a common symptom of perimenopause.

Perimenopause refers to the transitional period that leads to menopause. It marks the end of the reproductive years for individuals with a female reproductive system.

It is often associated with symptoms including irregular periods or skipped periods, heavier or lighter periods, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, frequent urination, sleep issues, and mood changes.

“My doctor had no knowledge and didn't prepare me,” Berry said. “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.'”

Talking about menopause

Fatima Naqvi, M.D., an OB-GYN at Atlantic Health System and the medical director of Atlantic Medical Group Outpatient Obstetrics and Gynecology, says Halle Berry's story is interesting because it emphasizes how important it is to talk about menopause and share experiences.

“Let's face it, talking about menopause just isn't something that happened historically,” she tells Healthnews.

A lack of information and awareness likely played a role in Berry’s experience, she says, adding that vaginal dryness, in particular, is a symptom that is seldom spoken about.

Women need to understand what their bodies are going through, especially during perimenopause.

Naqvi

The experience is a spectrum, she explains, with symptoms varying between individuals and beginning as early as ten years before someone’s period stops.

“I’m happy to see her discussing the experience,” Naqvi says of Berry’s decision to share her story publicly. “It highlights the lack of conversation around menopause, particularly for women of color. There just isn't enough research on how menopause affects us differently.”

As women enter their perimenopausal decade, Naqvi says it's crucial for them to become attuned to their bodies and prioritize self-care. During this transition, bone health, heart health, and mental well-being all become increasingly important.

The question, she says, becomes: how can we manage these multifaceted transitions gracefully?

“The answer lies in education and proactive self-care,” she says. “By understanding what's happening and taking steps to support our physical and mental health, we can embrace this new chapter with confidence.”


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