Gabrielle Union is shedding light on the changes her body is experiencing.
In a recent interview with PEOPLE, the actor opened up on how she's navigating perimenopause and how she uses her platform to encourage others.
"The Perfect Find" star told the outlet “I just felt off, that's probably the most accurate way I could describe it,” before she got a full blood panel that confirmed she was perimenopausal.
The Mayo Clinic cites perimenopause as when your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years. The site also indicates that changes within a woman's body typically occur within the 40s, but can start as early as the mid-30s.
You've hit menopause after 12 consecutive months without a period. During perimenopause, you may experience irregular periods, trouble sleeping, mood changes, vaginal and bladder problems, loss of bone density, increased cholesterol, changes in sexual function, and hot flashes, which can carry over into the menopausal period.
“I was just like, not me. I just left the club. That's like an old woman thing,” she joked.
As someone in the limelight, this has been a complex moment for her.
“All of it can feel very isolating and you can feel like less of a woman, especially as a Black woman where our hair is our crown. There's literally the CROWN Act and I'm like, uh, my crown looks more like a barrette at this moment,” she quipped.
Additionally, she has suffered other symptoms that have been taxing on her mind and body.
“It was the hot flashes, the night sweats that could happen at any time of day, brain fog, mood changes, ongoing sadness, anxiety that felt more like terror, hair loss, and then random weight gain,” she said. “That’s when it really hit home for me.”
She continued, "You just feel defective, right? You could be short with people, you could be super irritable, you could be just really sad, which some of those things may add up to people wanting to pull away from you or having extra commentary about your mood or how you are being.”
To manage symptoms, she has reduced her intake of gluten, dairy, caffeine, and alcohol.
Union also said having a safe space to talk about this significant moment in her health helps her feel less lonely.
“It's very easy to write off women of a certain age as you're just a b - - - -, you're just bitter, you're just whatever. And you can start isolating,” she added. “And the more you are isolated, the less people are able to track any sort of changes and it's very easy to go deeper into darkness.”
Now the "Bring It On" star is an ambassador for Clearblue's latest product, Menopause Stage Indicator, which is a urine test paired with a health tracking app to help women identify their menopause level.
"Anything that can help women advocate for themselves in a time that is usually shrouded by secrecy and is very taboo and nobody wants to talk about it, I'm going to do my best to make sure that women have resources and options and can learn new ways of advocating for themselves," Union told the outlet.