Some facts of life: A person’s first menstrual cycle is often celebrated as a symbolic, if not biological, shift into adulthood, and both pregnancy and becoming a parent are also lauded as positive milestones. But entering menopause, which is a biological inevitability for anyone who menstruates, is largely not only ignored, but also stigmatized: People simply don’t talk about it; some leave the workforce at the height of their career because they are not supported by their employers as they go through it; and the medical community reinforces the societal silence around menopause by not regularly training gynecologists to treat its 34 symptoms. But in 2022 and onward, thanks to product launches, new devoted health-care resources, and a focus on medical education and access, we can expect the shroud of silence that’s long covered this phase of life to be removed. Period.$600b
There is certainly a lot of development happening in the menopause industry, which represents $600 billion of opportunity, and big-name investors are helping shine a spotlight on (and add a cool factor to) this space. In June, Kindra, a menopause-focused supplements and lotion brand that also has a community network and is backed by Katie Couric Media, raised 4.5 million in seed money; in August, menopause platform Elektra Health, backed by Alexis Ohanian’s company, received $3.75 million in seed funding; and earlier this year, stylist and TV personality Stacy London became the CEO of menopause-focused beauty brand State Of. On the horizon for a late 2021 formal launch is Alloy, a telehealth company for women over 40 co-founded by former Marie Claire editor-in-chief Anne Fulenwider and Seed + Mill co-founder Monica Molenaar, which received $3.3 million in seed funding in October.
But why is this widespread growth bubbling up now? It’s largely generational, according to Elizabeth Gazda, a Well+Good Wellness Trends Advisor and CEO of Embr Labs, founded in 2014, which makes wearables that use thermoregulation technology to treat issues like hot flashes, insomnia, and stress—all side effects of menopause. With the baby boomer generation, she says, “you had a large number of women who fell into the category of [thinking], ‘I'll just suffer in silence like my mother did and my grandmother did.’ There wasn't a lot of information, there wasn't the Internet or technologies to help boomer women” as they aged into menopause.
”Gen X-ers found their own way,” Gazda says, and now are “spearheading the transition [to menopause care and acceptance].” Indeed, a critical mass of current innovators and founders in this space (including Gazda and others mentioned here) are members of Generation X. But it’s digital-native Millennials (the oldest of whom are now starting to enter perimenopause) who will ensure this progress isn’t fleeting. “[Millennials] are looking for information and they want to have help where they are, which is on their phone and with the aid of technology,” says Gazda.
“[In the baby boomer generation,] you had a large number of women who fell into the category of [thinking], ‘I'll just suffer in silence like my mother did and my grandmother did.’ There wasn't a lot of information, there wasn't the Internet or technologies to help boomer women [as they aged into menopause]." Elizabeth Gazda, CEO of Embr Labs
As the demand for information and tools percolates, the medical field is simultaneously evolving to provide a better standard of care, says Somi Javaid, MD, board-certified OB/GYN and co-founder and CEO of HerMD, an in-person and telehealth care provider that specializes in each phase of reproductive health for people with a vagina. “I have seen a very refreshing change from the medical community,” she says. “There are definitely more resources, more communities, and more education available for [providers] to learn how to treat menopause patients. There are more courses available, there is attention being paid in residency programs and in medical school.”
To set a standard for what it means to provide menopause-informed health care, the nonprofit organization North American Menopause Society (NAMS) has offered a menopause-practitioner certification since 2002. According to a NAMS representative, there are currently 1,200 NAMS-certified menopause practitioners in 17 countries, and the organization has seen an increase in the number of clinicians taking the certifying exam this year, indicating that menopause-management certification may become more sought after by practitioners.
Such menopause-informed care is something patients are increasingly looking for as well. Since Gennev, a telehealth platform for menopause care, launched in 2016, co-founder and CEO Jill Angelo says the number of patients seeking menopause-focused care has grown substantially. Currently, Gennev providers serve 500 patients each month, up from 75 patients a month last year and 20 patients a month two years ago, she says.
And, it seems people experiencing menopause want to come forward to share their experiences, learn, and create communities with people navigating similar issues. “We had an event in Minneapolis recently and there were so many questions about health and wellness, finding the right doctor, and libido,” says Sally Mueller, a Well+Good Wellness Trends Advisor and CEO and co-founder of Womaness, an educational and community platform with a line of skin-care and sexual health products and supplements for people experiencing menopause that launched in April (the products are now available at Target). “So once you give them a platform, they do want to talk about [menopause].”
With all the industry development, progress in the medical community, and destigmatization in the menopause space happening in parallel paths, there's hope that the estimated 1.1 billion people worldwide who will experience menopause by 2025 will do so with a newfound openness and support.
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