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Halle Berry Says Her Perimenopause Was Misdiagnosed as "Worst Case of Herpes"

The actor shared the harrowing story of how she found out she was heading towards menopause.

Celebrities often have access to some of the best medical care in the world. But even the rich and famous are not immune to the estimated 7.4 million misdiagnoses that occur annually in the U.S. Case in point, actor Halle Berry recently opened up about her experience with this kind of medical mistake, revealing that her perimenopause was initially misdiagnosed as herpes.

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On March 25, Berry sat down with First Lady Jill Biden at the A Day of Unreasonable Conversation summit in Los Angeles to discuss women's health, The Hollywood Reporter reported. During the talk, the Catwoman star specifically targeted one health problem she is dealing with herself: menopause.

Menopause refers to the end of a woman's menstrual cycle, or the "point in time 12 months after a woman's last period," according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA).

In the years leading up to menopause, some women may also experience several changes during a menopausal transition period also known as perimenopause. The NIA says this usually starts between the ages of 45 and 55 and can last several years.

During the summit, Berry opened up about how she has been working to change "the way women and men feel about women during their midlife and how they feel about this—which used to be a dirty little word—menopause, perimenopause, and we in this room have to change that … it can't just be the doom and gloom story. This is a glorious time of life."

But the 57-year-old actor also shared that her journey with this condition started off rocky.

"First of all, my ego told me that I was going to skip [perimenopause]," she told Biden, per People. "I'm in great shape. I'm healthy. I managed to get myself off of insulin and manage my diabetes since I'm 20 years old. So that makes one think, oh, I can handle menopause. I'm going to skip that whole thing. I was so uneducated about it at that time."

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It wasn't just that Berry thought she could skip perimenopause, however. The star talked about meeting the "man of [her] dreams," musician Van Hunt, at 54, their sex life, and how one day of extreme pain after intercourse led her to a major misdiagnosis.

"I feel like I have razor blades in my vagina. I run to my gynecologist and I say, 'Oh my God, what's happening?' It was terrible," Berry recalled. "He said, 'You have the worst case of herpes I've ever seen.' I'm like, 'Herpes? I don't have herpes!'"

After her doctor told her she had herpes, Berry said she immediately confronted Hunt about it. But both of them ended up testing negative for the sexually transmitted disease (STD).

"I realize after the fact, that is a symptom of perimenopause," the actress told the summit.

Dryness can be one sign of this transitional period as your "vaginal tissues may lose lubrication and elasticity" when your estrogen levels start to decline, "making intercourse painful," according to the Mayo Clinic.

"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.'"

Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. If you have health questions or concerns, always consult your healthcare provider directly.

Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more
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