Naomi Watts, 54, is on a mission to raise awareness about the changes a woman's body goes through during menopause, and she says it all starts with having more honest conversations about this phase of life.
Traditionally, we've been trained to "grin and bear it, just suck it up and cope," she told Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie on TODAY on April 27.
"Our mothers didn’t have these conversations with us because their mothers didn’t. The cycle was just passed on. And the tide is changing, which is great news, because to be ahead of it is wonderful," the actor continued.
If menopause hadn't been such an off-limits topic when Watts first started experiencing symptoms, she believes she would've had an easier transition.
"If I’d known more, if I had knowledge of what was going on, I wouldn’t have been spiraling out of control," she said. "The mood swings, the night sweats, the migraines, all of these things converging, and (you get) no information and no community and no real help from your doctors because they don’t prepare you. It’s not until you’re desperate (and) in the middle of it."
While chatting with Watts, Hoda cited a survey that found just 6% of women feel prepared for menopause symptoms, including hot flashes, brain fog and sleeping problems.
Instead of brushing these experiences under the rug, Watts wants to normalize menopause.
"We’re all headed there at some point or another, half of the population, and the rest of the population may be indirectly affected by it. So just bring it out onto the table. It’s a natural phase of life," she said.
Savannah asked the two-time Oscar nominee if she was scared that advocating around menopause would harm her acting career.
"I was definitely ... oscillating back and forth. Is this a good idea? Is this a bad idea? And eventually, I just thought, well, I've got to get over myself and my fear because, in a way, it's going to buy me more time in Hollywood if everyone gets on board," Watts explained.
“I think things are changing, which is great news — in my industry and all industries. In fact, I feel like, dare I say it, aging is trending. ... We’re living longer, so we may as well live our best versions of ourselves and come at it with vibrancy and honesty and authenticity," she added.
Watts has started her own line of menopause-related products called Stripes — an ode to the power and strength of women when they stand together.
"I came up with that name because I felt like we’ve earned it. We are still relevant. We can reclaim ourselves. We can lean into this time with vibrancy. And one stripe doesn’t live alone. You have to have a community," she said.