Watts, now 55, said she thought of menopause as “equating to the end” of her career, when she experienced it three years after her breakthrough performance in David Lynch’s 2001 psychological thriller Mulholland Drive.
In an interview with Times Radio on Thursday, the two-time Oscar-nominated actor added that the lack of conversation around menopause – or the end of menstruation – “told me that you don’t matter anymore”.
She continued: “So I kind of spent a lot of time spinning out and turning in on myself, feeling panicked about the end of my career, the end of my worth. If I can’t bring children into the world, my partner will probably leave me. What do I mean? Where’s my purpose?”
Watts has been advocating for greater awareness and sensitivity around the subject, with the actor launching her own menopausal beauty brand Stripes last October.
In the interview, she noted that, while women come together to discuss their periods, first kisses, or experiences with getting pregnant, the conversation around menopause has remained shrouded in secrecy and shame.
However, Watts acknowledged that she wouldn’t have spoken about her own experiences when she was younger.
Opening up about her decision to talk about going through early menopause publicly, she said: “Maybe it was just the right timing, maybe that the average age of menopause is 51. Maybe I just had to get past that milestone to actually admit that that was me.
However, Watts added, her outlook has since changed because she “got on top of the education” and has a better understanding of it.
“I’ve also got my friends,” she continued, underscoring the importance of having a community. “We can moan about it if we have to, laugh about it and share our experiences openly.
“I think when the conversation is off the table, that’s the worst part of it,” Watts said.
The Impossible actor has previously said that going through early menopause was “incredibly isolating”, with the NHS estimating that premature menopause – before the age of 40 – affects one per cent of women in the UK.
The symptoms are the same as perimenopause, or the years of transition leading up to menopause. These usually include changes in the pattern and/or frequency of menstrual cycles, anxiety, mood changes, hot flushes, and hair loss or thinning.