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Naomi Watts graces the cover of HELLO! for online

Naomi Watts on finding love after menopause and why age is in

The actor tells us how menopause can bring hope and new beginnings for other women too

Donna Francis
Contributing Editor US
July 24, 2023
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There's no age limit to falling in love, as Naomi Watts and Billy Crudup, both 54, proved recently when they tied the knot last month

Naomi Watts and Billy Crudup's marriage:

The two actors, who have been together since 2017 and both have teenage children with former partners, chose to celebrate their midlife romance by getting secretly married in New York. Their relationship has shown that not only is love possible to find later in life, but also that "older" women are not, as Naomi once feared, "let out to pasture."

Naomi Watts beams as she is the cover of HELLO!
Naomi Watts graces the digital cover of HELLO!

In fact, for the Mulholland Drive star, finding love and a revived joy for her career at an age when most women felt "less desirable" has inspired her to speak out. Even more so since her diagnosis of early menopause when she was just 36 years old. Now almost 20 years later, she is starting a new chapter in her life.

Naomi Watts on menopause:

"Going through menopause at such a young age was not easy, especially during a time when there was so little information available about it,” she explains to HELLO! "Mood swings, night sweats, and migraines…I was feeling like I was spiraling out of control."

What is menopause?

Menopause is when someone stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally, according to the NHS.

Menopause impacts everyone in different ways, but there are said to be around 34 symptoms, with some of the most common side effects including hot flushes, mood changes, anxiety and brain fog.

Other common symptoms include night sweats, difficulty sleeping, vaginal dryness, difficulty having sex as well as skin and hair changes.

Symptoms normally last three to four years and begin in perimenopause – the time before your periods have stopped, but you're already experiencing symptoms. Perimenopause can be difficult to spot, with the condition often misdiagnosed.

The taboo has thankfully been lifted around menopause, with people in the media now talking freely about the subject, eliminating misinformation and normalising the impact menopause can have on all areas of our lives, including our careers and relationships.

Menopause can be treated with HRT, which comes in gels, pills, patches and more. Though HRT is not suitable for everyone, many find it helps with managing their symptoms.

The lack of knowledge about what was going on made it all the more difficult. Even medical professionals don't adequately prepare us for the experience. Yet Naomi's menopause soon became more manageable once she realized that she needed to be her "own best advocate", and that "seeking help and understanding more about what was happening" was the best way to survive a "challenging period of adjustment."

"Going through this journey led me to a deeper understanding of myself, and I came out on the other side feeling more authentically me," she explains. "A lot of freedom came in the self-acknowledgement. I had those voices in the back of my mind reminding me how old women are let out to pasture, but there was a lure to this desire to be authentic, to crawl from behind the invisible wall and just acknowledge for myself something that everyone could have probably guessed."

Naomi Watts partners with Menopause Mandate:

This enlightening introduction to menopause is the reason behind Naomi’s new partnership with Menopause Mandate, the not-for-profit organization that is on a mission to revolutionize midlife support available to American women. Building upon their success in the UK, Naomi is thrilled to be the US co-chair for the organization and hopes that the partnership will help women feel more supported and less alone, like she did in the early days. 

"I truly believe that if menopause hadn’t been such an off-limits topic when I first started experiencing symptoms, I would’ve had an easier transition," she explains. "I was part of a cycle that desperately needed to be broken. There was a lack of open conversation and resources to help women navigate the changes we go through. That’s why I’m now so passionate about raising awareness and encouraging more honest conversations."

Naomi Watts walks along the sandy beach© Ben Watts/Trunk Archive
Naomi has found joy and love after the menopause

Naomi feels positive about what the future holds for older women — especially those looking for love and new relationships at this traditionally challenging age. "The most valuable move for any relationship, partnership, workplace or family, is to just be open and honest about what you’re going through. Most times this gives people a chance to be empathetic and know how to respond. And plus hiding is so much more exhausting."

Women’s stories don’t end at a certain age

Naomi Watts

Naomi truly believes that "the tides are changing" and that "'age' is 'in'. "I'm proud to still be working; when the defining narrative used to be that if you were a hair over 40 you were basically forced into retirement, seeing that shift, that’s empowering. There’s growing recognition that women’s stories don’t end at a certain age...

Naomi Watts on Hollywood:

"Although Hollywood gets a finger pointed at it for lots of wrongdoings, we're a progressive industry, only because we're in the limelight, it happens in every industry, but Hollywood leans toward progressive thinking. So, I do see evolution, I do see people taking risks and identifying interesting female driven stories which is exactly how it should always have been. A women’s story is interesting at every stage, the longer the life, the deeper it gets and make for interesting stories."

"It’s a natural phase of life which half the population is going to go through. The more normalized the conversation can be, is going to present an opportunity for everyone to understand. Let’s hope it becomes as easy to talk about this stuff as it’s been to talk about periods."

Naomi Watts poses in a blue sweater with a sandy beach backdrop© Ben Watts/Trunk archive
There’s no age limit to falling in love

And while Hollywood is catching up, Naomi knows there are a lot more midlife stories waiting to be told - and she's excited to be a part of that journey. She feels passionately that menopause "hasn't been adequately portrayed' on the big screen and she’s eager to put that right. 

"It's a side comment here or there, barely even a secondary plot line, but menopause can consume a significant portion of a woman's life - some people it can last over a decade. How is that not worth writing stories about? So many things can happen in a women’s life during this time; caring for elderly parents, an emptying nest, a divorce, a career shift, getting back into the work force. High stakes! All great fodder for meaningful and rich storytelling," she adds. "Watch this space!"

Do you have a menopause story that you’d like to share? Visit Menopause Mandate, we’d love to hear from you. 

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