Wellness May 2, 2024

Halle Berry shouts 'I'm in menopause' on Capitol Hill as she fights for funding to improve women's care

WATCH: Halle Berry fights menopause stigma

Actress Halle Berry was joined by a group of bipartisan senators on Capitol Hill Thursday to push for legislation that would put $275 million towards research and education around menopause.

The legislation calls for the federal government to spend more on clinical trials on menopause as well as the hormone therapy that is used to treat hot flashes and other symptoms.

Berry, 57, shouted about her own menopausal status outside the Capitol Thursday.

"I'm in menopause, OK?" Berry yelled, to laughs from the crowd. "The shame has to be taken out of menopause. We have to talk about this very normal part of our life that happens. Our doctors can't even say the word to us, let alone walk us through the journey."

J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Halle Berry joins female senators as they introduce new legislation to boost federal research on menopause, at the Capitol, May 2, 2024.

Berry, a mom of two, spoke out earlier this year about her experience with perimenopause, describing a situation in which she said her doctor misdiagnosed her.

"My doctor had no knowledge and didn't prepare me," Berry said in a conversation with first lady Jill Biden at the Day of Unreasonable Conversation summit in Los Angeles in March.

"That's when I knew, 'Oh my gosh, I've got to use my platform,'" Berry said at the time. "I have to use all of who I am and I have to start making a change and a difference for other women.'"

Perimenopause, the period of time before menopause when ovaries make varying amounts of the hormones estrogen and progesterone can start as early as 40 years old and can last up to 10 or more years.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Halle Berry joins senators as they introduce new legislation to boost federal research on menopause, at the Capitol, May 2, 2024.

The average age for menopause, when your periods stop permanently, is 52, according to the U.S. Office on Women's Health. Menopause is reached after it has been a full year since your last period.

Under a legislative proposal advocated for by Berry and introduced by Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington and Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, $125 million of federal funding would be set aside for clinical trials, public health, and medical research on menopause.

MORE: I went through menopause before I turned 40 and this is what I want women to know

The remaining money would help support menopause detection and diagnosis, train doctors on treating menopause and raise public awareness around it.

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"Menopause is not a bad word, it's not something to be ashamed of, and it's not something Congress or the federal government should ignore," Murray said Thursday.

The bill is backed by 17 senators - three Republicans, 13 Democrats, one independent and all of them women.

Several senators said Thursday they hope the bill will also encourage doctors, women and men to speak more openly about the health milestone all women experience.

MORE: What to know about perimenopause after Halle Berry says she was misdiagnosed

Murkowski said she was looking forward to getting support from her male counterparts.

"If men went through menopause we would have adequately and appropriately funded the research (into) menopause decades and decades ago," she said.

Menopause and other women-only health conditions have traditionally lagged behind in research and understanding. As recently as the 1970s, few women were enrolled in clinical trials, and women's health needs were believed to be a low priority. One 2022 study found women still account for only between 29% and 34% of some early-stage clinical trials due to concerns about fertility.

In March, President Joe Biden signed an executive order on women's health research, which particularly focuses on increasing research on women's midlife health and improving management of menopause-related issues.