IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Halle Berry's doctor said she had the 'worst case of herpes.' It was perimenopause

The Oscar winner shared the story at an event with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.
Halle Berry
Halle Berry during the Red Sea International Film Festival 2023 on December 06, 2023 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.Tristan Fewings / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Halle Berry just shared the mistake that led to her discovering she was in perimenopause.

At a multi-day event called A Day of Unreasonable Conversation hosted by Propper Daley, which brings together changemakers and those in the television industry to discuss the ways media can better reflect society, Berry, 57, sat down with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden to discuss women’s health.

Menopause, the Oscar winner admits she thought was a matter of lifestyle. She thought she could outrun menopause, she told the audience. “First of all, my ego told me that I was going to skip it — I’m very safe, I’m healthy, I managed to get myself off of insulin and manage my diabetes since I’m 20 years old,” Berry began, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

So at 54 years old, when she, after having sex with partner Van Hunt, began experiencing pain in her vagina, she had no idea what to attribute it to. She described feeling like there were razor blades in her vagina, according to People. Berry immediately consulted her OB-GYN who mistook her symptoms for herpes, saying she had “the worst case” of the virus he’d ever seen.

At the event, Berry launches into a description of the aftermath: “Herpes? I don’t have herpes!’ Berry recalls saying. She and Hunt got tested and came up negative for sexually transmitted infections.

As it turns out, Berry was in perimenopause. It was vaginal dryness, according to People, a typical symptom, that was responsible for the excruciating pain. “My doctor had no knowledge and didn’t prepare me, 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 difference for other women,” Berry said per The Hollywood Reporter.

Perimenopause is the transition period that occurs before menopause begins. During this time, your ovaries will begin to produce fewer hormones, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Perimenopause can occur up to seven years before menopause begins, previously reported, and symptoms range from night sweats, to brain fog and changes in your menstrual cycle.

But, the Cleveland Clinic says the first signs are typically hot flashes and vaginal dryness, also called vaginal atrophy, which caused Berry and her doctor concern.

This isn't the first time Berry has been vocal about menopause. On Instagram she called it “a topic that is near and dear to my heart and one that affects half the entire population.”

In 2023, Berry told Women’s Health that she’s challenging everything she knows about menopause. “I’m challenging all those stereotypes about how you have to look a certain way or feel a certain way,” she told the magazine. She has the most to offer at this age, Berry went on to say. “I have zero blanks to give anymore. I’m solidly in my womanhood.” Berry was adamant that the myths about aging women being disposable, washed up and unimportant aren’t true.

At the event, Berry and Biden urged the television producers, executives, actors and writers in the crowd to not give up on older women. “Help us change the way culture views women at this stage of our lives,” Berry said, according to The Hollywood reporter. “We’re not exactly at the end. We’re sitting up here, two women who are clearly down the path of life, we are not done. We’re just getting started in our next act.”