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What happens when Stacy London and some of the biggest names in menopause get together in NYC?
Dixie Laite reports from the Marvelous Mrs. Menopause featuring Dr. Somi Javaid of HerMD, Dr. Sharon Malone of Alloy, Dr. Kelly Casperson, and more
By Dixie Laite
It can be daunting making your way through the maze of elevators at the World Trade Center Building, especially when you’ll need to switch elevators to get to the Sky Lounge on the 74th floor. Roaming around, hoping I won’t have to be the feeble old lady asking the security guard for help, I suddenly saw a group of women and I knew I’d found my way. But it wasn’t until I was in the elevator I realized I’d found something even better – my tribe. Think about it, when was the last time you were in a crowded elevator completely surrounded by confident, stylish, sophisticated women over 50?
When I got to the sign-in table for the Marvelous Mrs. Menopause event hosted by Let’s Talk Menopause on October 4, it wasn’t the spectacular Manhattan view that surrounded the lounge that stunned me. Here I was in a room surrounded by all women, all over 40 (some of us, ahem, over 60). To most businesses, scientific studies, magazines – and let’s face it, men – women my age are invisible. And when something makes me un-invisible, if a stranger compliments my hair or outfit and then hears my age, they always say, “You don’t look 61!” But the truth is, I DO. And here I was in a room filled with older women like me — women who were smart, curious, courageous, joyful, angry, and I’m betting we all had pedicures.
We were all here to learn about menopause.
Menopause, you know, something that happens to more than half the population for a third of their lives. Ask someone about it now — whoever is sitting nearest. Maybe someone in the next cubicle or plane seat next to you. Do they have anything more to say than “hot flashes” and “weight gain”? Or are you too embarrassed to say the word out loud? I’m an educated woman who reads the news daily and I’m happy to say I have lots of friends and colleagues my age. But let me be the first to say that I really don’t know shit about menopause. Our culture and health professionals almost never talk about it, and as far as science and medical studies are concerned, women over reproductive age just really don’t exist.
I was most impacted by the initial panel discussion with Samantha Skey, CEO of SHE Media, and Stacy London, midlife advocate and SHE Media Flow advisor. They talked about the ways women’s health is virtually ignored by the medical establishment, with less than 10% of the NIH’s research budget going to women’s health issues. You’d think that since they long ago solved men’s terrible, horrible medical problem, Can’t Always Get-It-Upus, they’d be able to move on to the vast unknown sea of medical issues affecting half of humanity. But…nope.
I was fascinated by Ms. Skey’s talk of the “block list” — words advertisers would prefer not to have their ads near. Sooooo, if your content has “repulsive” words like vagina, vulva, labia, uterus, and clitoris in it, the search algorithm puts you way down on the list. This means that sites focusing on perimenopause, menopause, or women’s sexual health issues, will be harder to find than the ubiquitous ads for over-the-counter drugs catering to erections.
Dr. Kelly Casperson, one of the less than 10% of female urologists, joked about how she was writing prescriptions for men all day while the wives they were going home to had nowhere to go for help with their side of the encounter. (Oh, did I mention the word “patriarchy” is also on the “block list”?) Women have had to look to one another for information to help them, whether it’s Facebook message boards extolling coconut oil or Substacks like E. Jean Carroll’s that gives you recs for the best vibrator. (Her fave is from JimmyJane. “That thing will pull the best orgasms from you, even if you are wary of it or a newbie. You, literally, cannot NOT have screaming orgasms.”)
Luckily, many women’s advocates and medical professionals are looking to remedy this unfair state of affairs. Lots of companies and online resources (like us!) are springing up to accommodate women’s midlife needs.
Entrepreneurs are actively working to serve women over 45, like the panel’s Dr. Somi Javaid, founder and chief medical officer of HerMD. It’s also up to women like us to call for (ahem, demand) increased federal funding for menopause-related initiatives. And here’s some easy homework: google “menopause” at least once a day, to help with the algorithm. Let them know we have problems, questions, needs — and money — and that there’s an awful lot of us and we’re pissed.
Here’s some easy homework: google “menopause” at least once a day, to help with the algorithm.
Aside from “menopausal teas” in the gift bags and lots of feminist anger that I unloaded on my husband after returning from the event, the main thing I came away with is this quote from Stacy London: “You need to know what you don’t know yet.” It’s time to avail ourselves of what’s out there to teach us what questions to ask, ask those questions, and then don’t stop until you find the answers and care you need.
Dixie Laite has been a second-grade teacher and mechanical bull operator, and for the past 25 years she’s worked for a variety of TV networks as a writer, editorial director, trainer, advice columnist, even an on-air personality. But primarily she’s trotted around New York City in one cowboy shirt or another, lurking around flea markets, gyms, and anywhere they’ll hand her French toast. Currently she lounges around her apartment with one husband, one dog, five parrots, and roughly 2,000 pairs of shoes.
Dixie is the main lady behind Dear Dixie (her advice column) and Age Against the Machine, a column about empowering women over 50. Read the free archive of Age Against the Machine on jumbleandflow.com.
Follow Dixie on Instagram @dixielaite and email her at email@example.com.