HEALTH: Michelle Obama opens up about realities of menopause, undergoing hormone therapy

Michelle Obama is getting candid about the physical changes in her body since reaching menopause.

The former first lady, 58, opened up to People about her menopause experience in an effort to remove the stigma from publicly discussing hormone changes in women’s bodies. “There is not a lot of conversation about menopause. I’m going through it, and I know all of my friends are going through it. And the information is sparse,” she explained.

The Chicago-born attorney revealed when she lived at the White House with her husband, former President Barack Obama, she and her closest friends participated in self-styled fitness “boot camps.”

Now, the friends — who teasingly called Obama the “Drillmaster” — lean on each other as they navigate menopause together.

“I find that when we get together and we’re moving and we’re laughing, then we spend a little time talking about what we’re going through. ‘What’s a hot flash?’” she said. “We have girlfriends around the table who are OBGYNs, who have real information. All of that keeps us lifted up.”

As she’s grown older, said Obama, her fitness workouts have changed. “Some of it is menopause, some of it is aging,” she explained. “I find that I cannot push myself as hard as I used to. That doesn’t work out for me. That when I tear a muscle or pull something and then I’m out. The recovery time is not the same.”

Obama now focuses on stretching to stay flexible rather than pushing herself with strenuous cardio workouts. “You wind up balancing between staying fit enough and being kind enough on your body to stay in the game,” she said.

Like many women in menopause, Obama and some of her boot camp pals have put on weight.

“I never used to weigh myself. I’m not trying to stick to numbers, but when you’re in menopause, you have this slow creep that you just don’t realize,” said Obama. “We’re all in menopause with stretchy (waist) bands and our athleisure wear on, and you look up and you can’t fit the outfits you had last year.”

As for monitoring her weight gain, she said, “I have to be more mindful, not obsessive, but more mindful.”

Obama also told People that, all in all, she feels “blessed” during this time of life. “I think my skin still feels healthy. My hair is still in my head. These are the things that I have to count my blessings for,” she said.

“I am still physically active,” she added, “and my goal now, instead of having ‘Michelle Obama arms,’ I just want to keep moving.”

In August 2020, Obama opened up about going through menopause on the “Michelle Obama Podcast,” where she revealed that she began using hormone replacement therapy while living in the White House.

“I had a few (hot flashes) before I started taking hormones,” Obama explained. “I remember having one on Marine One. I’m dressed, I need to go out, walk into an event, and literally it was like somebody put a furnace in my core and turned it on high and then everything started melting. I thought ‘Well, this is crazy. I can’t do this.’”

Obama said several women on her husband’s White House staff were also experiencing hot flashes and other signs of hormone changes. So she decided to tell the president what was happening in the lives of the women around him.

“He could see it in somebody, because sweat would just start pouring, and he’s like ‘Well, what’s going on?’ And it’s like, no, this is just how we live,” Obama recalled. “He didn’t fall apart because he found out there were several women in his staff that were going through menopause. It was just sort of like, ‘Oh, well, turn the air conditioner.’”

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