Halle Berry’s doctor misdiagnosed perimenopause symptoms as herpes

Oscar-winning actress now wants to use her platform to make a difference for other women

Halley Berry recalled the moment she learned she was perimenopausal.

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

Berry’s misdiagnoses sparked continued debate on social media about Black women’s health care experience. According to a January 2024 study, women and racial and ethnic minorities are 20% to 30% more likely than white men to experience a misdiagnosis.

During an open conversation with first lady Jill Biden to discuss menopause and women’s health, Berry admitted to having to put her ego aside, detailing how she was in great shape and how she managed to “get herself off of diabetes,” something she was diagnosed with when she was 20 years old.

After her doctor said she had herpes, the Oscar-winning actress confronted her partner, Van Hunt, a Grammy Award-winning musician — and they both got tested. Their results were negative.

“I realize after the fact, that is a symptom of perimenopause,” the actress said. “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.’”

Perimenopause affects 1 billion women worldwide and can start eight to 10 years before menopause. For some, that means in their 40s and for others, it can start in their 30s. Here are a few perimenopause symptoms to consider, according to WebMD.

  • Hot flashes and night sweats, or vasomotor symptoms
  • Breast tenderness
  • Worse premenstrual symptoms
  • Lower sex drive and fatigue
  • Vaginal dryness or discomfort during sex
  • Leaking urine when you cough or sneeze
  • Having an urgent need to urinate more frequently
  • Mood swings
  • Trouble sleeping and or concentrating

Irregular periods are common and can often be overlooked. If you’re experiencing very heavy flow or have blood clots, your menstrual cycle lasts several days longer than usual, are spotting between cycles or after sex, or your periods start to happen closer together, experts recommend making an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible.