Exclusive Interview

Trista Sutter Gets Really Candid About Going Through Menopause

The OG Bachelorette turned 50 in October, and wants you to know that you don't have to suffer alone.

Ariela Basson/Scary Mommy; Getty Images

It’s been two decades since Trista Sutter became the very first Bachelorette in ABC’s original Bachelor spin-off — and she knows better than most that some things get better with time. Not necessarily the franchise itself (we’re all aware it's had ups and downs) but, for Sutter, the end result: a 20-year marriage to husband Ryan Sutter.

“It evolves. We grow together,” Sutter tells Scary Mommy over a recent Zoom chat. “That’s the hope, right? That when you’re married, you grow together and not apart. It changes, but I feel like in the best way.”

For Sutter, the secret to enjoying time as it passes is pretty simple: meet it where it’s at.

“It’s like having kids ... What’s your favorite age? Well, I love all of ‘em, because my kid was a different version of themself through all ages. It’s the same with marriage, just appreciating every stage and trying to grow together [and] appreciate life together.”

Of course, as the first Bachelorette, Sutter is acutely aware that society doesn’t make it very easy for women to appreciate aging. How does she stay in a healthy headspace when it comes to the pressure to “age well”?

“Sometimes I don’t,” she says with a small laugh. “Sometimes I look at my friend’s Instagram pages and just think, Oh, to be that young again. So pretty. But I think that as I’ve gotten older, it’s also about accepting the fact that I’m truly wiser and have more life experience. And I think that’s actually a cool thing. I can say I have been through all of this life, and it’s been an incredible life.”

Still, she isn’t immune to the same intrusive thoughts the rest of us have. “To be honest, there are days I do wish I was 30 again. Or wish I was 20,” she says, reconsidering before adding with a laugh, “Well, maybe not 20.”

Aging in the public eye can be unforgiving, and it’s only gotten more difficult since Sutter made her reality TV debut.

“I truly don't think that I would've done the show had social media been around, because I'm just so sensitive like that,” she shares. “But I think it's just about trying to stay focused on the positive stuff. ‘Cause if you focus on the positive, that's what you see, you know?”

Sutter also believes that, for women, one of the greatest tools we have in our toolbox is transparency — whether it’s sharing candid, filter-free photos on social media or not being afraid to talk about the things affecting our bodies as we get older.

It’s what drew Sutter to a partnership with TENA, the world’s leading incontinence care brand, as part of their #MyEvolvingbody campaign. The goal of the campaign? To encourage a more open dialogue around women’s evolving bodies... particularly surrounding the changes that take place during menopause.

According to a 2022 survey by TENA, 43% of those who’ve gone or are going through menopause or pre-menopause felt “completely alone” during it. A shocking 50% didn’t tell their partners they’d begun experiencing menopause — 77% didn’t even tell their mother.

“I just turned 50 in October. I am currently going through menopause and have been for years, and so many of my friends are as well,” Sutter says. “I just don’t think that people talk about it as much as we should because it’s still a taboo topic ... And I think that’s really sad because it’s something that half of the population goes through.”

Although research shows that one in three women suffers from urinary incontinence, typically during postpartum or menopausal phases of life, it typically takes them six to eight years to bring it up with a doctor.

“We still don’t want to talk about it because we worry that we’re gonna be judged, or just because it’s scary,” Sutter says. “It’s scary if you’re going through something where your body is changing and you don’t know how to handle it. You don’t know how to cope, and you feel like you’re alone.”

For Sutter, there was a trifecta of menopause symptoms she wished someone had talked to her about before she started experiencing them.

“Hot flashes, for sure ... I have a really hard time sleeping with the hot flashes because I get so overheated.”

She continues, “The mood swings are also our problem. I bit Ryan’s head off the other day for no reason, and I felt really bad afterward. But I’m like, OK, I’m just gonna chalk it up to menopause — and not that I’m a mean person.”

Then there’s the one no one really talks about: incontinence.

“I was just with friends, and we were laughing because one of them was talking about how they have a trampoline and their kid was asking them to go on the trampoline with them. They're like, ‘Uh, no, absolutely not. No more trampolines in my life.’ Trampolines, sneezing, laughing hysterically — how sad is that, that you can't laugh?”

Enter the importance of women talking to each other. A good place to start, according to Sutter? “Wine,” she jokes.

But, in all seriousness, she says it begins with being willing to put everything out there.

“Connect with your friends. Set up a night where you can get together, open a bottle of wine or have some tequila, and really sit down and talk frankly, authentically, openly, honestly about what you’re going through,” she suggests.

“If someone brings up menopause or postpartum or peeing in your pants because you went on a trampoline or you laughed too hard or whatever, actually talk about it and don’t gloss over it. That’s how you get more comfortable — actually talking about it.”

“Dig in and get into the conversation,” she emphasizes, “because I feel like that's the only way we are going to change the culture.”

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.