Menopause is an inevitability for every woman, or any person with ovaries, yet for so long it was only discussed in whispers. Besides the occasional joke about hot flashes or mood swings, women have been left mostly on their own about anticipating and managing the onset of changes that happen to their bodies. Gradually the stigma around topics like periods and fertility is beginning to fall away. Women’s aging in general is being interpreted differently. ‘Anti-Aging’ product messaging faces more scrutiny these days. The entertainment industry is becoming more age-inclusive. Now menopause is having its day. Last year, Phoebe Waller Bridge’s hit TV series Fleabag, included a hugely resonant monologue by Kristin Scott Thomas on the subject of menopause as ‘something to look forward to.’ In the same year, writer Darcey Steinke published ‘Flash Count Diary: Menopause and the Vindication of Natural Life’ where she recounts a ‘metamorphosis’ and describes both the physical and ‘spiritual’ challenges. This is not to say there hasn’t been artistic interpretations of menopause before, but this time the momentum feels undeniable. Not only are we seeing it in pop culture, but brands across several categories, are now offering products that finally address menopause-specific needs.
The average age for women in Ireland to experience Menopause is 50 years old. However there is also the lead up known as ‘perimenopause’ which often happens 4 to 8 years prior. According to Data from the United Nations, women experiencing menopause will make up 12% of the total global population by 2025. This will be nearly a billion people. Femtech is pioneering digital resources to meet this underserved segment. Gennev, for example, is a telehealth platform founded in the US. They offer online assessment to help women understand their symptoms, ongoing remote medical care, and educational resources and forums to demystify menopause. This year, Peanut, the social networking app for mothers, expanded into creating connections and community for women living with menopause.
Because of the hormonal effects of menopause on a person’s skin and hair, the beauty and personal care industries are beginning to specifically address it. Kindra, offers a range of supplements and lotions as well as an ‘essentials bundle’ for Menopause relief. MegsMenopause, which is sold at Boots, offers cooling mists and intimate lotions. Pause-Well Aging is premium skincare, specifically targeting menopause related skin issues like dryness or acne. All three brands are unapologetically marketed for menopause and do their part to educate and empower people to recognize and treat the symptoms. Fashion brands are also beginning to take up the cause. Become is a menopause clothing brand which uses their ‘anti-flush technology’ to help keep women comfortable when enduring intense fluctuations in body temperature. Fifty One Apparel, which prides themselves in ‘cool clothes for hot women’ uses NASA technology to achieve this.
There is still an enormous opportunity for brands to enter the menopause market as well as a real consumer need for more innovation. However it is important for brands to keep in mind that the culture that has kept menopause so private has also contributed to shame and misunderstanding. Women have long been made to feel invisible and less valuable as they approach middle age. Brand messaging should cast stereotypes aside—like this ad from Holland and Barrett last year. Each person’s experience with menopause is also unique. Women who experience it early in life, sometimes as early as their 30s, or transgender and non-binary people can also get lost from the conversation. The barrier for entry is genuine consumer understanding. With that, brands can do a lot of good in this space.