Halle Berry’s Doctor Mistook Her Perimenopause Symptoms for Herpes

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Though essential for maintaining vaginal and sexual health, a trip to the gynecologist’s office isn’t exactly what one might describe as a fun field trip. Just ask Halle Berry, who recently detailed a nightmare experience in which she claimed her doctor was unable to recognize her perimenopause symptoms.

During the “A Day of Unreasonable Conversation” summit, according to People, the 57-year-old sat down with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden for a conversation about menopause and women’s health. Berry told Dr. Biden that she had previously thought she might skip the perimenopausal phase, or the body’s natural transition into menopause, because she was “healthy” and in “great shape.” Though she’d dealt with diabetes since she was 20 years old, Berry said that because she’d weaned herself off of insulin and generally taken care of her body over the years, she assumed her system would skip over perimenopause, which is typically accompanied by symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, and vaginal dryness. “I was so uneducated about it at that time,” she said. But after the Catwoman actress met the “man of [her] dreams,” Grammy-winning musician Van Hunt, the Oscar winner said she began to experience pain during intercourse.

“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,” she remembered. “He said, ‘You have the worst case of herpes I’ve ever seen.’ I’m like, ‘Herpes? I don’t have herpes!’”

After the appointment, Berry said both she and Hunt tested negative for herpes, despite the doctor’s diagnosis. It was only later that she realized the physical sensation she’d been feeling was likely a symptom of perimenopause: “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 a difference for other women.

The medical field, which has historically been dominated by men, has often misunderstood and devalued research around the experiences of vulva owners, particularly in menopausal women and women of color. But Berry rounded out the talk on a positive note by calling on audience members to “help us change the way culture views women at this stage of our life.”

Halle Berry’s Doctor Mislabeled Her Perimenopause Symptoms