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Wellness > Health

What The First Lady & Halle Berry Want Gen Z To Know About Menopause Research

On Jan. 11, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Oscar-award-winning actress Halle Berry visited the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) as part of the White House’s new initiative on women’s health research. The initiative is led by the first lady and the White House Gender Policy Council to bring awareness to various women’s health topics.

“Research for women’s health has been underfunded, and we are half the population,” Dr. Biden exclusively tells Her Campus. “We need the information, we need the facts, the research, the figures. It needs to be fair. And we just have to do better.”

This effort was launched after President Joe Biden signed an executive order in November 2023 creating the first-ever White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research. Since then, Dr. Biden has dedicated her time to highlighting important research and bringing awareness to issues within the topic of women’s health.

UIC’s Illinois Neuropsychiatric Institute caught the attention of the first lady and the Gender Policy Council due to the program’s significant strides in menopause research. The event featured a roundtable discussion with both Dr. Biden and Berry, along with leading menopause researcher Dr. Pauline Maki, a UIC professor of psychiatry, psychology, and obstetrics and gynecology.

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Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/Getty Images

The panel emphasized the importance of menopause research: Every woman and person with a uterus — except for those who’ve had an oophorectomy, or ovary removal, prior to their first period — will go through menopause at some point in their life. Menopause, which is the time when the person stops menstruating, comes with side effects including hot flashes, trouble sleeping, irritability, headaches, and more. Yet, it’s important to note that menopause impacts every person differently, so extensive research is required to ensure that women and people with uteruses have the right information when it comes to menopause.

However, research on menopause has been sparse, leading to a stunning lack of information for women and people with uteruses. Berry said during the panel, “Money needs to be raised and allocated so that doctors can be retooled, so that we can have more experts. So that every woman has an opportunity to get quality premium care and not just [be] told, ‘You have to just white knuckle it. It will eventually pass.’”

While menopause may feel far off for Gen Zers, the panelists agreed that young folks should start thinking and reading about menopause early, so they can feel prepared when they experience it down the line. “I would love to tell my 20-year-old self to go talk to my mother about it,” Berry tells Her Campus. “Go learn about it. When we’re 20 years old, menopause and perimenopausal years seem so far away that it’s not in the forefront of our minds.”

Menopause isn’t something that most folks experience until their mid-40s and 50s, but it’s never too early to be informed. So, take the time to get to know your body better — it’ll thank you in the long run.

julianna (she/her) is an associate editor at her campus where she oversees the wellness vertical and all things sex and relationships, wellness, mental health, astrology, and gen-z. during her undergraduate career at chapman university, julianna's work appeared in as if magazine and taylor magazine. additionally, her work as a screenwriter has been recognized and awarded at film festivals worldwide. when she's not writing burning hot takes and spilling way too much about her personal life online, you can find julianna anywhere books, beers, and bands are.