Have we solved hot flashes yet?

Last week, team genneve flew to Philadelphia for the 2017 North American Menopause Society (NAMS) conference. Attended by health care professionals who focus on women in midlife, the annual meeting is the perfect place for us to find out what’s being researched, what innovations are in the pipeline, and if anyone has solved hot flashes yet.

It’s also a good place for us to represent you by asking the questions you’ve asked us and letting attendees know there’s a large and growing audience who’d very much like solutions and information … now, thanks.

So, no on the hot flashes, but we did come away with the very clear and very reassuring feeling that the medical community is listening and recognizing how underserved women in midlife are – still – when it comes to health care.

Here are the two big takeaways we wanted to share with you:

One: Sex is on everybody’s mind.

In years past, women’s sexual concerns have been badly neglected while pharmaceutical companies scrambled to solve erectile dysfunction. There’s a notion in our society that once women are no longer able to have babies, sex really isn’t a high priority for them anymore.

We disagree. And judging from the comments we hear from you, you disagree too.

Here’s the good news: at NAMS we saw a lot of innovation around women’s sexuality – devices to strengthen the pelvic floor and promote healthier vaginal tissue and the Lioness to track orgasms; lubricants to suit every woman and purpose; supplements to help ease menopause symptoms and rejuvenate the libido; procedures that provide an alternative to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for making sex pleasurable instead of painful.

We were especially pleased to see a focus on both the effectiveness and safety of vaginal lubricants. Not all lubricants and moisturizers are created equal, so there was a lot of enthusiasm for genneve’s pH-balanced formulas after an early-morning session on healthy lubricants.

The takeaway: we need to keep talking about sex.

We get it that for doctors concerned about a woman’s risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cervical cancer, osteoporosis, etc., painless, pleasurable sex might seem like a “nice to have.” For women, however, healthy sexuality is very much a priority when it comes to quality of life, and we need to continue making that very clear.

There are tremendous health advantages to a happy sex life; it’s time to throw some real money and time into solving the problems women have around sex in midlife. Talk with your doc about all your options, from lubricants to lasers. The more we insist on answers and solutions, the sooner we’ll have them.

Two: More data is great, but how do we use it?

Thanks to social media sharing, wearable smart devices and apps, and online communities, there’s a whole lot more personal information out there, and there will likely be even more in future.

Menstrual cycle tracking, calories eaten and burned, heart rate, steps taken … we already get those from apps on our smart phones. Online communities like Facebook groups are starting to reveal how common many problems are but how differently different people experience the same issue. (Think of hot flashes – some women are barely bothered while others are showering multiple times a day.)

We’ve just begun to scratch the surface of the information that will be available in the future. But how do we use that information to make our lives better, now and in the future? Technology is great, but it needs to be in service to better health and – best case – have a qualified professional providing guidance.

The takeaway: the medical community needs to catch up to technology

The health care community – as many professionals we talked to agreed – is behind in adopting new technologies, in large part due to privacy concerns and regulations. However, the information a user captures with a sleep tracker or heart monitoring app could literally save their life.

Technology can provide so much information that could help a doctor know her patient better, especially now that in-person appointments average only 15 minutes. Diet, sleep patterns, exercise levels, hydration and urination, etc., could give docs valuable additional insight when making diagnoses or determining a course of action.

Instead of resisting technology because it’ll be complicated to fold it in, we think now is the best time to begin integrating new data. Yes, there needs to be a balance between privacy and information sharing. That’s why the genneve platform is being built with such attention to maintaining privacy.

But we also know that every woman’s experience of menopause is different because every woman’s body is different. The more we know about a woman, the more we can tailor solutions to her needs, habits, and physiology, and that could make data from her app or smartwatch very valuable indeed.

If you have questions about NAMS or the conference, or thoughts on the use of technology to track health issues and habits, please feel free to share in the comments. You’re also welcome to join the conversation on genneve’s Facebook page or Midlife & Menopause Solutions, genneve’s closed Facebook group.


Shannon Perry

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