Gabrielle Union on learning perimenopause is not ‘an old woman thing’

The actress, who began having symptoms at 37, dishes on her new diet after gaining 27 pounds during transition

For most women, perimenopause begins in their early 40s. For others, like Gabrielle Union, it can start in their 30s.

Union is the latest celebrity to open up about their experience during the transition, when she said she gained 27 pounds and suffered hair loss.

“I was just like, not me. I just left the club. That’s like an old woman thing,” “The Perfect Find” co-star told People.

“It’s really changed everything,” she added. “I didn’t want it to be true because I love all the things. I love cinnamon rolls and real butter, lard, like a lot. So it’s been a journey. And there’s days I backslide, and when I backslide, especially around vacation, my symptoms are going to come right back.”

Union shed light on feeling “like less of a woman,” as she recounted her perimenopause journey, which began when she was 37. While her symptoms are common, there are a few most might not be aware of.


During perimenopause, the ovaries gradually make less estrogen until the body stops releasing eggs. According to WebMD, it usually starts around eight to 10 years before menopause hits. Here are the most common symptoms.

  • Hair loss and weight gain
  • Hot flashes and night sweats, or vasomotor symptoms
  • Worse premenstrual symptoms and irregular periods
  • Fatigue and lower sex drive
  • Vaginal dryness or discomfort during sex
  • Leaking urine when coughing or sneezing
  • Having an urgent need to urinate more frequently
  • Mood swings
  • Trouble sleeping and concentrating
  • Short-term memory problems

So, how does the NAACP Image Award winner handle it now? She aims for balance with fitness and diet routines, focusing more on weight training and cardio options that go beyond the average trek on the treadmill.

“I like to mix it up so I don’t get anxiety staring at the treadmill,” she told Women’s Health. “Cardio could be jumping jacks, running up my driveway, side shuffles like I used to do in basketball, an elliptical, treadmill or sled pushes.”

Foods to avoid

With aging, the body becomes fickle about what it can digest. During perimenopause, it’s important to avoid foods that could not only make you gain weight but also worsen other symptoms.

The “Bad Boys” star said she drinks lots of water and enjoys gluten-free pancakes, salads, healthy fats like avocados, fruits and veggies.

If you’re wondering where to start on changing your diet, here are four suggestions, according to Everyday Health.

  • Avoid ultraprocessed foods like potato chips, cookies and fast foods
  • Spicy foods can trigger hot flashes
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Avoid fatty meats like bacon and brisket

Although that list leaves out some tasty treats, there are healthier options those going through perimenopause should add to or increase in their diets. According to Healthline, healthy fats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and quality protein can help with perimenopause symptoms and lower the chance of gaining a substantial amount of weight.