The Scoop: Women in the United States — and around the world — are often not well-informed about menopause. That means many can’t identify their symptoms as menopausal and don’t seek treatment for their discomfort. Gennev set out to change that dynamic through its informative and empowering online platform. A tech expert and an OB/GYN joined forces to develop Gennev, and the platform provides information, individualized health care plans, and access to telehealth appointments to help women better understand menopause. Gennev plans to expand globally to teach more women what to expect during that stage of their lives.
When girls first hit puberty, they often have mothers, sisters, and friends to help guide them through what to expect. But when women enter menopause in their 40s, 50s, or 60s, they are less likely to have that same support system. According to a study in the journal Maturitas, 65% of women are unaware of what to expect during menopause.
Jill Angelo, a long-time Microsoft executive, recognized how many women didn’t understand the natural life phase. She also saw how technology could help spread much-needed information about menopause and its treatments.
“I came to recognize this huge untapped market. Women in midlife are hitting the top of their game in terms of confidence, wisdom, and finances, but menopause can wreak havoc on their quality of life,” she told us.
Her solution was Gennev, an online platform that helps women identify their symptoms as menopause and make positive lifestyle changes. Jill felt so strongly about the project that she left her career to devote her time to Gennev.
“What drove me to leave was that I’ve always had a passion for helping women and girls. I created Gennev to redefine how women view menopause and get help,” she said.
The first step in creating Gennev was assembling a team that could assist in spreading awareness about such a multifaceted issue. Jill contracted with an OB/GYN who could serve as the company’s Chief Medical Officer and lead the platform’s health efforts.
She also brought in specialists to help build personalized health plans and communications specialists and educators to inform users through accessible resources.
“Our users are suffering, and often the first piece of feedback they give is gratitude for letting them know that what they’re going through is normal,” Jill said.
Menopause: A Misunderstood Life Phase in American Society
Many women who reach menopause don’t understand what is happening to them. In turn, they often aren’t aware of the treatment that could alleviate their suffering. While they may know about symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats, the other 34 symptoms they may experience during that stage are less commonly known.
“Many women suffer in silence or are unprepared; they don’t even know what’s going on. There are so many symptoms, including anxiety, painful sex, loss of libido, inability to sleep, and muscle fatigue, that women don’t even associate with menopause,” Jill said.
Menopause can also be exacerbated by symptoms that last much longer than women expect. Some symptoms can linger for 15 years or more and require treatment to ensure that they can still live life to the fullest.
For example, menopause can boost a specific type of cholesterol that can increase a woman’s risk of heart disease. Lifestyle changes, including diet modification and increased exercise, are necessary to lessen that risk.
Other menopause symptoms include weight gain, changing thyroid function, sleep problems, and brain fog. Some women also want to know that they can still get pregnant after menopause or if they can still enjoy sex.
However, even if a woman is suffering, her doctor may not alleviate all of her symptoms — either through prescription drugs or suggested lifestyle modifications. A recent AARP article even found that 3 out of 4 women who seek treatment for menopause symptoms don’t receive the help they need.
A Platform That Offers Resources for Women Seeking Relief
Women experiencing menopause often fear that the most important parts of their lives are over. Some may even think they have no choice but to accept painful sex or a low sex drive.
Jill and her team designed Gennev to make the platform accessible to everyone and to reassure women that they can still lead fulfilling lives after menopause.
“This is pioneering work; no one has done anything in menopause before,” she notes. “We are always thinking, ‘If we position it this way, would women identify with it more?’”
Gennev offers four main features to expand its reach and appeal to as many women as possible. The first is an assessment that allows women to track their symptoms and decide if what they’re feeling is menopause — and normal.
“A woman will take the menopause assessment first. From there, we can showcase where they are on their journey. We’re trying to create a road map to menopause,” said Jill.
Next is the HealthFix plan feature, which offers women personalized, OB/GYN-designed plans that help them cope with bodily changes — including mood swings and weight gain — post menopause.
“We want to help women get the right lifestyle behavior, prescription drugs, or over-the-counter product. Our team then checks in with them on their quality of life and asks if they’re experiencing anything new,” Jill said.
Menopausal women can also receive help through a telemedicine video or chat where they speak with practitioners and nutritionists about what they’re experiencing, no matter where they’re located.
“A lot of our telemedicine appointments are in rural areas — that shows we’re addressing an underserved demographic,” Jill told us.
Finally, Gennev links women to products and services they may find useful for the symptoms they experience — including insomnia and vaginal dryness.
Gennev is on a Mission to Demystify Menopause
Women face many issues during menopause, and Gennev strives to keep them more informed about treatment options so they can manage their symptoms.
One area Gennev can particularly help is in relationships, as menopause is a factor in many divorces. Menopause may make women more anxious and cause them to lose interest in sex, which, in turn, can create problems within a relationship.
Jill said that a recent survey discovered menopausal and post-menopausal women wished their partners would be more understanding about their struggles. That’s why partners of those women are also encouraged to use Gennev to be more aware of the experience.
Its comprehensive strategy has helped Gennev reach women in more parts of the U.S. and other English-speaking countries than Jill ever expected. While her team thought the platform would reach women on the coasts, it is also attracting users throughout the country. That diversity is essential, as women from different regions and ethnicities may have different conceptions of menopause and its implications.
“Women in the Southeast may have different symptoms or deal with things differently in the Pacific Northwest. We see cultural differences,” Jill said.
Gennev plans to expand its language offerings to meet the needs of an even more diverse range of users. First, it plans to roll out a Spanish-language version of the platform. Jill said she has received many requests to gear Gennev toward women in India and the Middle East, who often face even more misinformation about menopause than American women do.
But Gennev wants to ensure that it doesn’t sacrifice the quality of the platform.
“We have to win in one place first before we go beyond. So we need to decide how to better apply our data and scale our technology to help more women,” Jill said.