On the latest episode of her new podcast, Michelle Obama spoke out about the importance of discussing women’s health.
The former first lady said the willingness to have conversations about women’s health — including talking about sex education with kids and confiding in others about menopausal symptoms — is crucial.
“Our comfort level with our sexual health is directly tied to our physical, overall well being,” Obama, 56, told her guest Dr. Sharon Malone, a longtime friend and practicing OB-GYN.
“I want my daughters to grow up seeking out information about themselves, because sexuality ties to other things around health,” Obama said. “Mammograms, pap smears, all of that is like — if you can’t touch your breast because you feel like you can’t, you’ll never discover a lump earlier. If you’re not getting regular pap smears, you’re probably not going to the doctor at all, right?”
Obama said she was lucky her mother was open to having these conversations growing up, but she recognizes that wasn’t always the case for other women of her generation or previous generations.
The former first lady and best selling author said she always wanted her daughters — Sasha 19, and Malia, 22 — to “feel comfortable with their bodies” and to feel “comfortable asking questions” about their own health growing up.
“In order to do that, you can’t have anything that’s off limits,” Obama told Malone. “Especially when kids are young, the minute they see you clenching up about something, they notice that and they will never ask it again, or they’ll never ask you and instead they’ll go and talk amongst themselves.”
Malone, 61, agreed, people “need to normalize the conversation.”
During their discussion, the former first lady shared a story about having a hot flash while on Marine One before an event with President Barack Obama.
“It was like somebody put a furnace in my core and turned it on high,” she remembered. “And then everything started melting. And I thought, ‘Well this is crazy, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t do this.’ “
“What a woman’s body is taking her through is important information. It’s an important thing to take up space in a society, because half of us are going through this but we’re living like it’s not happening,” she added.
Obama said her discussion with Malone is part of the reason she wanted to start a podcast. She launched the Higher Ground-backed podcast on Spotify in late July with an hour-long interview with Barack.
“I hope you start asking those hard questions and having those conversations about your health, whether that’s with your doctor, or your girlfriends, or your partner, or your children,” she said at the end of the latest episode. “That’s really the only way we can get through any confusion or uncertainty — by talking through this stuff, together.”
The Michelle Obama Podcast comes out Wednesdays on Spotify.