It’s an eye-opening figure: By 2025 it’s estimated that there will be 1.1 billion post-menopausal women in the world. While everyone with a menstrual cycle will eventually experience “the change” in their lifetime, it’s still somewhat of a taboo subject. However, the current generation of women who are experiencing the often-uncomfortable symptoms of this very natural process happen to be Generation X, an age group that has been known to bring modern issues to the forefront. “Suffering in silence may have been the old motto for menopausal women,” explain Sally Mueller co-founder of the wellness brand Womaness. “However, today, as with many topics formerly considered not suitable for polite company, menopause is no longer considered a stigma, curse or, even worse, the end of a woman’s life.”
“Menopause is being recontextualized, and it’s the women of Generation X leading its rewriting, powered with a new sense of agency to define for themselves what menopause is or can be,” says sexual wellness brand Vella Bioscience cofounder Carolyn Wheeler. “As part of that, we are witnessing a shift to a more expansive understanding that positions it as an experience in a woman’s life that is no longer too sacred to talk about.” Here, experts and wellness brand founders share the ways women today have helped to change the narrative surrounding this unavoidable stage.
Pause Well Aging founder Rochelle Weitzner had her first hot flash in 2017 at 48 years old, and that’s when she learned that the menopause space for Gen X didn’t exist. “I started looking for products for ‘women my age’ but everything seemed rooted in the 1950s, either suggesting beauty ended at 40 or offering little to no information to assure me that what I was experiencing was normal or prepare me for what other changes I might encounter during this life stage. Because I had deep expertise in skin care already, that’s where I started.” Weitzner went on to develop effective solutions that met the unique needs of someone experiencing these sometimes-confusing changes. “I knew I needed to help women like myself find information and products that would empower them to age on their terms, not simply follow how society tells us to age.”
“What’s happening now is that we have women who, frankly, came into being after the women’s liberation movement who are now arriving at this major life event and actually asking the question: why did no one tell me? Isn’t there a better way,” says Catherine Balsam-Schwaber, CEO of Kindra, a menopause care brand that has products for better sleep, hot flashes and vaginal dryness. “We’re here to help her find it, so she doesn’t have to go it alone.”
Hormonal Skin Care
More and more women are also recognizing that as their skin changes during this time, so should their products, prompting more menopause-related brands like Womaness, Pause Well-Aging, Kindra, SweetSpot Labs and Stripes, a new line founded by actress Naomi Watts. “The hope is to build thick, healthy skin and hair before menopause and then maintain what you have from menopause and beyond,” notes Seattle dermatologist Heather D. Rogers, MD.
When natural Greek skin care brand Korres put their focus on developing a line of menopausal skin solutions, their research and development team found that we experience a rapid decline during those menopausal years, much faster than they’d previously realized. “Doing our bibliographic research on menopausal skin we were shocked by the drastic changes that happen,” says co-founder Lena Korres. “In just five years-time, the structural changes in our skin are bigger than in the past 30 years. We see a 30 percent reduction in collagen, 36 percent reduction of cell reproductivity and a 30 percent reduction in the skin’s natural moisturizing function.” It’s as if our skin is in triage during those years and thankfully, the latest menopause solutions can help bring it back to a healthier place. “It was obvious to us that we need to approach menopausal skin care in an innovative and extremely targeted approach,” adds Korres.
“Cosmeceuticals and the aging process was being heavily addressed from an understanding based on the loss of collagen and UV damage,” notes Newport Beach, CA dermatologist Zenovia Gabriel, MD, who developed her Dr. Zenovia skin care line to address hormononal skin. “Various known agents like retinols, peptides, or alpha hydroxy acids were tried and true; but we were missing the hormonal impact and hormonal products on the skin. That is why I began studying hormonal dermatology and created a line that addressed this issue.”
Weitzner also believes that Gen Xers being the first generation to be raised with internet access has helped expand the conversation. “Technology has really changed the in a variety of ways,” she explains. “Gen X women have a lot more access to information and the ability to connect with more women like themselves through platforms like Facebook Groups than previous generations. So even though menopause is still shrouded in a bit of mystery and remains taboo in broader society, Gen X women are finding each other, sharing their experiences in a way that normalizes them, and getting smarter about products and solutions that can help improve their journeys.”
In the past, women mostly accepted what doctors told them, which wasn’t always accurate, says Weymouth, MA OBGYN Julianna Arena, MD. She says there are more women today seeking answers beyond the conventional medical model to find solutions. “Patients now are more discerning” she explains. “I would like to think we are more educated about the physical, mental, and emotional changes that are happening. While we’ve come a long way, we still need more provider education on the latest advances in health and hormone balancing. Providers need to move away from the mentality of ‘what are your symptoms? Here is your diagnosis and a pill.'”
“The medical industry also has to dedicate more resource and training towards understanding this life stage and providing many more solutions than what we have now that include natural, holistic options,” adds Weitzner.
With a new attitude toward “the change,” comes new solutions for sexual wellness, too. New modalities for female pelvic health and increased sexual wellness, like Cliovana, Emsella, and nonsurgical vaginal laser treatments have helped eliminate some of the more often symptoms of the change. While previous generations did not have access to solutions like this, Korres says it’s “very Gen X” to try innovative means to remain youthful for longer. “I think what best describes this generation’s psychology is that they want to be unstoppable in the sense that they want to keep doing the things they were always doing. Going out, having fun, exercising, traveling, being active, flirting.”
“Gen X women are the coolest, smartest, most interesting women we know—women who proudly own their age and stage in life,” shares Womaness cofounder Michelle Jacobs. “Kudos to these women for no longer speaking of menopause in hushed tones. The more they speak up, ask questions, talk to their friends, spouses, and children about the changes they’re experiencing, the more they help destigmatize the conversation about menopause.”