“ER” Alum Gloria Reuben Says Menopausal Hot Flashes 'Wreaked Havoc' on Her Life: 'Dragon in My Belly' (Exclusive)

“It's like the silent movies where the steam blasts out of your ears,” the actress tells PEOPLE of her anxiety-inducing hot flashes

<p>Rebecca Michelson</p> Gloria Reuben

Rebecca Michelson

Gloria Reuben

For Gloria Reuben, symptoms of menopause came and “wreaked havoc” in both her personal and professional lives.

Six years ago, the ER alum started experiencing intense and frequent hot flashes (also known as vasomotor symptoms or VMS) that progressed until they began disrupting her day-to-day life.

Speaking to PEOPLE about her journey to find solutions, the 59-year-old recalls the embarrassment she’d feel as an actress when the hot flashes would come unexpectedly while on set.

“I would be in the makeup chair and I could feel that dragon in my belly right and up would come that fire,” she tells PEOPLE. “I could feel it like, ‘Oh, here it comes.’ I'm trying to stay cool and it's like the silent movies where the steam blasts out of your ears until I finally would be embarrassed and would just say, ‘I'm so sorry, I'm having a hot flash.’”

“Or being in front of the camera for a very intense, very intimate scene and it's a closeup. I feel that dragon again rearing its head and I start getting disjointed from my work,” she continues. “I start feeling self-conscious and I start worrying. And those two things for an actor… not good.”

Related: Celebrities Who've Talked About Menopause

Reuben says that because there was a stigma attached to menopause, she didn’t have anyone to talk to about what she was going through.

“I practically just grinned and bore it. I felt at the whim of these hot flashes and night sweats, I was filled with more worry and more anxiety,” she says. “There was such secrecy around it, a kind of silence. And I know that there are a number of women who feel alone in the process, even though we're not alone.”

Dia Dipasupil/Getty Gloria Reuben
Dia Dipasupil/Getty Gloria Reuben

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It wasn’t until last year when Reuben saw a commercial for Veozah — the first FDA-approved nonhormonal medication to treat severe hot flashes in menopausal women — that she was able to find a way to manage her symptoms.

The actress went to her doctor about the oral medication and was finally able to get some relief. She has since seen a significant drop in her hot flashes and the severity of them, boasting how “free” she is now.

“I'm working on a show called Elsbeth right now, and my first scene on this wonderful new series was a cocktail party,” Reuben explains. “I'm in the wardrobe room looking at outfits and the first dress that caught my eye was a green sequin dress. I knew immediately, ‘Oh my gosh, that would look awesome on me.’ But for a second, a kind of old habit, I felt ‘What if I have a hot flash in it? Maybe I shouldn't wear it.’”

Related: Could This Finally Be a Cure for Hot Flashes? FDA Approves Groundbreaking New Drug

She continues, “However, because I was having fewer hot flashes and night sweats, I didn't worry about it. I tried on that dress and everybody was like, ‘Yeah, that looks awesome on you!’ I was in that dress for five or six hours on the set with the lights and all of that, and I was fine. I’m just freer in my decisions and I’m so grateful.”

That’s why Reuben is now partnering with Astellas Pharma, the makers of Veozah, hoping that women hear her story and feel less alone in their menopause journeys and are encouraged to find solutions.

“The response in my body was fantastic,” she tells PEOPLE. “I can't promise what it will do for anybody else; however, I'm encouraging women to go to their doctors and talk about it. Have the conversation with your doctor to find a solution that's right for them.”

“I can use the platform that I have to get women talking to their healthcare providers,” she adds. “There's something wonderful about opening up the lines of communication to eradicate the shame or the stigma or the embarrassment. This is a natural process that women go through and as symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats might be very disruptive, there are solutions and treatment options.”

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Read the original article on People.