Margaret Cho: I Want to Celebrate Menopause

Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia

Margaret Cho is a comedian and actress who's currently on her Live & Livid tour. For PS's Radical Honesty issue, she discusses the joy of menopause. Read more radically honest stories here.

I love menopause. I think it's really the best thing and the best-kept secret. There's so much mystery around it, and there's not a sense of people wanting to embrace this time of life as being really vital and fruitful and exciting and alive. There's a negative feeling of like, "Oh, I'm going to have hot flashes and I'll be irritable and I'll not be able to sleep." I've never been able to sleep! I've always been irritable. I've always run really hot, I'm always a sweaty mess, it hasn't mattered what age I'm at. Now, I just feel really good.

I just want everybody to know that it's nothing to be afraid of, nothing to be ashamed of.

My mother and all the women in my family had hysterectomies in their 30s, so this is a very mysterious world for me, because I have no idea what my family's relationship is to their uteruses. I've been surprised at how great it is, and I just want everybody to know that it's nothing to be afraid of, nothing to be ashamed of. It's something to just be really celebrating.

I never had kids, never really wanted kids, so I never really gave thought to my fertility. My period was always a pain; it was always seriously painful and really long. It would take up a lot of my time and energy. I had really bad PMS and really just hated it. I didn't have a good relationship with menstruation. But still, I held on to this idea that the fact that I bled somehow made me a woman, or made me valid. And that's really not the case at all. It has nothing to do with womanhood — it's a portion of womanhood, but it's not the full story.

Now, as a menopausal woman, I feel like I have a grasp on what the whole story is. The whole story is that we've been lied to by the patriarchy in order to somehow underline the idea that women are only valuable because of our capability to have children, or our fertility. When the truth is that's not it. I just really want to get the word out: Menopause is not to be feared, it's not something that makes you invalid. It's something that enhances the idea of the woman in you.

I want to usher in the celebration of menopause as being a grand experience of womanhood.

So far I haven't had any of the typical symptoms. I'm now on hormone replacement therapy, which is great. Unfortunately, insurance doesn't cover a lot of the things that I like to have, and I have to pay out of pocket for these things that are great improvements to my life, which is disappointing. I think it should be available to all people with uteruses to explore hormone replacement therapy. For me, it's been really encouraging, all the results I've had. It's also encouraged me to overhaul the rest of my life. I'd never gotten a mammogram, so I've had my first one at 55. It's just made me more aware of, oh, this is a way I can care for myself that I've just ignored. It's made me a lot more enthusiastic about the rest of my healthcare.

There aren't a lot of people talking about options like hormone replacement therapy or even just the state of their own menopause or what it feels like. We don't even talk about menstruation. We don't talk about women's health, really, at all. We're fighting for our rights — that's a different story, and a really important one. But that's kind of the only time when we're talking about women's health, when it's in a space of outrage.

We need to get out of the space that this is a shameful topic or a limited interest. Every woman, every person with a uterus is going to go through this. Half of the world is going to have to deal with this. It's not a special interest issue, it's a very big thing. I want to usher in the celebration of menopause as being a grand experience of womanhood. This is the big stuff that happens in the second act that you don't want to miss.

Jump back to the Radically Honest issue.

— As told to Lena Felton

Lena Felton is the senior director of features and special content at POPSUGAR, where she oversees feature stories, special projects, and our identity content. Previously, she was an editor at The Washington Post, where she led a team covering issues of gender and identity.