Comedian Sarah Silverman Talks 'Wackadoodle' Body Changes
Never one to shy away from a sensitive topic, stand-up comedian Sarah Silverman recently dished about "wackadoodle" body changes and estrogen treatment.
The 52-year-old Generation X podcast host pulled back the curtain on menopause, sharing how the natural stage of life has impacted her on the Jan. 19 episode of "The Sarah Silverman Podcast."
Silverman is the latest in a string of celebrities who have opened up about personal experiences with menopause, shining a light on a seldom-mentioned topic for the next generation of menopausal and perimenopausal women.
Each year, more than 1 million women enter menopause, generally regarded as the time when monthly menstruation ceases and estrogen levels decline. The symptoms associated with menopause—hot flashes, night sweats, painful sex, insomnia, anxiety, depression, vaginal dryness—can be debilitating for many women.
Menopause typically affects women from the ages 45 to 55, however, symptoms of perimenopause, the stage before menopause when estrogen levels begin to decline, can begin as early as a woman's 30s.
Described by the New York Times as a "Gen X Mister Rogers with a topknot ponytail and a profane streak," Silverman answers callers' questions about an array of topics on her podcast: anything from severe weather to how to best handle a close family member not attending your wedding.
Silverman began her Jan. 19 show with a frank, hilarious conversation about her "topsy-turvy hormones" and what she is doing to help ease the transition.
"Hey, everyone, it's your old pal, Sarah Silverman," she said. "And when I say 'old pal,' I'm not old, but I'm kind of old. I went off birth control, my body is changing, my hormones are topsy-turvy. Wackadoodle. And I talked to my doctor, went to my OB-GYN, figured it out. Everything is perfect now. But what I have to do is: I shove this pill up my p---y like twice a week. And boy, everything's better, even better than better."
The comedian explained her doctor prescribed Vagifem, a local estrogen therapy, also known as estradiol. Different from other estrogen treatments, estradiol is applied directly into the vagina with a disposable applicator. Other hormone treatments deliver estrogen to the whole body via gels, injections or sprays.
Silverman joked about her embarrassment after asking her local CVS pharmacist for five boxes of the prescription before she began her new stand-up tour, "Grow Some Lips," which kicked off on Jan. 20. The pharmacist politely declined her request, simply because of the quantity, she said, to which Silverman quipped, "Do you think I'm going to become addicted to Vagifem?"
Poking fun at the name of the product, Silverman questioned why medication marketed for female gynecological problems sounds more embarrassing than names of prescriptions marketed to men.
"Everything's called Xeljan or Xanax. Everything sounds like it's the name of a new planet," Silverman said. "Then when it comes to—even dick pills are called Cialis or Viagra, yeah, we know what they mean now, but at least it's not called dick pills, it's not called soft peen…Come on, you can't call it something else?"
Silverman provided levity to the topic of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). The comedian described the twice-weekly insertion of the "very sleek, long, thin" prescription estrogen applicator as "so bizarre."
"You put it in as far as it can go, it takes a lot of relaxing, then it's just a little button and then it's a little pfft," she said.
In recent years, researchers have noted the lack of science surrounding menopause.
About 44 percent of postmenopausal women in the United States take some form of hormone replacement therapy, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In recent years, researchers have noted the lack of science surrounding menopause, an issue that affects half of the global population. More than 1 billion women are expected to be menopausal worldwide by 2025, according to estimates from Bonafide, a women's healthcare company.
Women have a day dedicated to the stage of life, World Menopause Day, in October, yet lack sound science explaining, for instance, why some menopausal women are fairly asymptomatic, while others have crippling menopause symptoms.
Hormone replacement therapy is not free of risks. Some studies suggest estrogen treatments may increase the risk of blood clots, stroke, heart attack, endometrial cancer and breast cancer in some women. It is best to consult a physician before beginning any new estrogen therapy.