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Dr. Arianna Staruch and Dr. Keira Barr

Featured Article

Thriving in Midlife

Hundreds of Women Gather at Bastyr to Take Control of Their Menopausal Health

Article by Shannon Perry

Photography by Sam McJunkin

Originally published in Bellevue Lifestyle

”We’re not stopping with menopause. It’s just the beginning to the second half of a woman’s life. We’re preparing women now as they go through this hormonal transition for long-term health concerns.” –Jill Angelo, CEO of Genneve

Vibrant. Sexy. Powerful. That’s what most women in their 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond truly are, but if you say “midlife woman,” or—heaven forbid—“menopausal woman,” that’s probably not the image that comes to mind. Jill Angelo, CEO of Genneve, is out to correct that picture in your mind’s eye. Genneve (pronounced gen-ev) is helping women have an easier menopause by connecting them with health care education, practitioners and products via an innovative digital health solution.

When women arrive at Genneve, they’re invited to take Genneve’s ob/gyn-created menopause assessment to get a clearer picture of where they are in the menopause transition. From that, they receive information and resources tailored to their particular experience and set of symptoms. And they’re given the opportunity to sign up with that unicorn of health care practitioners: a menopause specialist.

“There’s already a shortage of ob/gyns in the United States, and those who remain are usually much more focused on the reproductive years of a woman’s life," Jill says. "The shortage is already a real problem for women in rural areas, and it’s predicted to get much worse. Our telehealth offering fills that access gap by providing not just health care, but health care focused on the menopausal woman, given by experts who can help her understand and manage the changes happening in her body.”

One way of connecting women and experts is through local events, like one Genneve held recently at Bastyr University.

“The M event” was the first-ever local women’s health event targeted entirely at women maturing into menopause, and it brought together some of the foremost experts on women’s midlife health," she says.

The 300-plus in-person and online participants heard from Dr. Lisa Mosconi, a neuroscientist at Weill Cornell Medical College who is in the vanguard of research on women, estrogen and Alzheimer’s risk.

Attendees learned about the very real dangers of heart disease post-menopausal women face and how to lessen that risk from Dr. Sarah Speck, a renowned cardiologist and medical director at Swedish Heart and Vascular Institute. Dr. Arianna Staruch, dean of the School of Naturopathic Medicine at Bastyr, spoke on complementary remedies and the power of proper nutrition. Dermatologist Dr. Keira Barr encouraged participants to “get naked” and let their skin reveal secrets about their internal and external health; nutritionist Nicole Negron spoke on the intersection of hormones and diet, and Genneve’s own Director of Health and OB Hospitalist at Swedish Women’s Health, ob/gyn Dr. Rebecca Dunsmoor-Su, shed a little light where the sun doesn’t usually shine: on vaginal health and sexual function.

Obviously, not all the conversation was on symptom relief; estrogen loss can affect the rest of a woman’s life through increased risk of heart disease, dementia and osteoporosis. So, much of the M event focused on relieving symptoms now and laying the groundwork for a healthy, vibrant future.

”We’re not stopping with menopause. It’s just the beginning to the second half of a woman’s life. We’re preparing women now as they go through this hormonal transition for long-term health concerns,” Jill says.

Why give up most of a Saturday to hear about hot flashes, insomnia and Alzheimer’s risk? Because while many of us live in blissful ignorance about menopause, women in the throes of it are really suffering. Brain fog makes it hard to concentrate at work; hair loss, weight gain and incontinence shake a woman’s self-confidence to the core; vaginal dryness and loss of libido affect intimacy and drive a wedge between couples.

And we don’t talk about it.

Women’s bodies—particularly aging women’s bodies—are still taboo in our culture. As a result, women suffer in silence, often unaware that the weird things they’re experiencing are caused by the fluctuating hormones of perimenopause that can start years before they buy their last box of tampons.

Jill carefully curated the M event not only to provide the best experts and innovations in women’s midlife health but also to jump-start a long-overdue conversation.

“At Genneve, we joke that menopause is the world’s ‘worst-kept secret.’ Half the population goes through it; 6,000 women enter menopause every day in the U.S. alone," Jill says. "And yet, so many of those women are lacking the basic knowledge and medical care they need to thrive during this time and be ready for the years ahead. We’re fixing that.”

  • Dr. Sarah Speck
  • Dr. Lisa Mosconi
  • Dr. Rebecca Dunsmoor-Su
  • Jill Angelo, CEO of genneve
  • Dr. Arianna Staruch and Dr. Keira Barr
  • Nutritionist Nicole Negron