Hotflash inc has moved to Substack! What does this mean for you? Well for one thing, a comments section, aka a community. (More on that in a bit) Very little else will change other than the look of the newsletter, which I’ll work on in the weeks ahead, and maybe a few sniggles and snaggles as I try to work this platform out.
I do have plans to launch a paid service in the coming months, which will include expert interviews, features, helpful lists (think books, supplements, remedies, etc) essays, breaking news and exclusive audio and video reports. But this issue will always be free. There are more than 6,000 Hotflash inc subscribers in 45+ countries and growing. This is a community of clever people who like to go beyond the media narrative, who get that the truth lies somewhere between the shouty poles on either end of an argument, and that finding out what’s right for us takes some digging, lots of questions, patience and a good dollop of common sense. So let’s get talking! My vision is for the comments section to be a bit like all those menopause Facebook groups that came before us, although a bit savvier and with less unrelenting misery. But please don’t feel like you have to sugar-coat anything — this is hard, and you are among friends. Above all else, Hotflash inc is a place to be real.
So… who’s going to be the first person to leave a comment, hmmmm?
This week a very big celebrity indeed decided to talk about menopause, in the form of Courteney Cox dropping a brilliantly cut old Tampax commercial. One thing I just could not get over, however, was the unintentionally damaging language in both videos — coming about two of the most vital things that happen to us, yet almost 40 years apart.
In 1985: “Tampax protects internally, so you feel cleaner”. (Ummm, no wonder GenX is fucked up about our bodies, right? What’s ‘unclean’ about going with the flow?)
In 2022: “Menopause will eat you alive. It’s horrible.” (Really? Like, you can die from it?)
Hey, a celeb gets to grumble too, we all do. But we know from the research that how we view menopause can actually impact how we experience it, which is why although I made an exception, I don’t usually share this kind of enterpainment on my social media channels. It smacks of the hurtful chin hair jokes that people who went before us had to grin and bear.
(On another front, a lot of people on social media sniped about another celebrity “jumping on the bandwagon”, which makes no sense to me. You want to build awareness, right? You complained about celebrities when they weren’t talking about it, right?)
For what it’s worth, I’m glad Cox is continuing the conversation in her own way. She never stopped talking about menopause back in March when she was promoting the first season of her Starzplay horror-comedy Shining Vale, in which a mom-of-two tries to figure out whether she is “depressed or possessed” while being dismissed by everyone around her. As the 58-year-old actress and entrepreneur told a British podcast: “I think that women probably go through a lot more than people realize — I mean, between menopause, depression, being a mom to teenagers”. That, my friends, is using her platform.
Another huge celeb social media post this week came via Stripes founder and Australian actress Naomi Watts, who back in 2020 told Women’s Health she invested in the NYC clean beauty store Onda after having a reaction to chemicals in traditional products along with “the hormonal changes I was going through”. She made a whimsical Instagram Reel titled The Upside of Menopause that will leave you feeling better about everything, not just this.
Please check out this fascinating and unintentionally disturbing report by The Guardian, HRT: inside the complex global supply chain behind a $20 billion market. I sometimes call myself a recovering journalist, and indeed, if I wasn’t doing this platform I’d probably be doing that one. Nonetheless, be careful what and how you read out there.
1) As all UK reports do, it skips over the real reason for the UK shortages (which you can find in my interview with the British journalist Emma Hartley). Hint: the call is coming from inside the house.
2) The paper calls early HRT enthusiast and Brooklyn ob-gyn Robert Wilson a “major influence” while failing to mention the 2002 revelation by his son Ron that he was paid by a pharmaceutical company to write the 1966 pro-HRT book Feminine Forever, and that the same company also funded all his research.
3) The article references the previously poor treatment of North American horses who provided the urine necessary to make the synthetic estrogen Premarin. A spokesperson for Pfizer (which bought the company that used to make it) says that’s all in the past, animal welfare is paramount, and all those horses are okey-dokey now.
4) The toxic solvent methanol is one of the chemicals used to make synthetic estradiol, and the reporter asks nary a query about what – if anything – that means for those later ingesting it.
5) There is a total rejection of the existing evidence on the power of phytoestrogens to ease menopause symptoms and help with overall health and disease prevention; only a vague mention of “naturopaths” who might be magically thinking about it, with a predictably dismissive quote courtesy of the medical director of a pharmaceutical company.
6) Most of the article focuses on the making of synthetic HRT, with a few paragraphs spent on increasingly popular but once-demonized bioidentical hormones, which have been rebranded as body-identical in the UK. But then it wraps up with this: “So called body-identical hormones extracted from plants, particularly those made using modern methods, are associated with less risk in relation to breast cancer and blood clots than older drugs, says Dr Paula Briggs, chair of the British Menopause Society.”
7) No one even begins to address one of the biggest questions of all: With everyone telling us we need to go on this, what’s to happen if it all breaks down?
The more you know.
PS - I’m happy to be challenged on any of these points! You know where to do it!
What helped me
Now that I look back on it, I was in perimenopause from at least the age of 42, 10 years ago now. Because I, like a lot of you, had no idea that I was in perimenopause, I spent a lot of time and money trying to get to the bottom of a series of mysterious symptoms. And you know what? I did pretty well, considering. So I thought I’d start a new series sharing that hard-won knowledge with you. Here goes:
Somewhere around 42 , out of nowhere, I developed a serious fear of flying. The 14-hour flight Toronto-Abu Dhabi flight became a private hell. Take-off and landing were excruciating. Any tremor of turbulence would send fear ripping through my body. I was filled with dread at the thought of having to board, and the anxiety would start from the moment I woke up on traveling day. It made no sense at all. But it does now, after hearing multiple reports of women who have developed other sudden fears, like driving at night. (According to experts and research, anxiety is a commonly accepted symptom of menopause. It can develop or be exacerbated by fluctuating and declining hormones, which then impact certain pathways in the brain — presenting differently in each person, with some commonalities. And because we are feeling a loss of control about everything that is happening to us, even if we aren’t fully aware of it yet, it can make whatever we are anxious about worse.) This went on for about five years, and I dealt with it as many nervous flyers do: stiff drinks, wherever I could get them. (Ever really stopped and looked at an airport bar? They may look calm, but those are some terrified people) If I could snag an Ativan for the trip from someone, I’d do that too. As those are in short supply in the UAE, sometimes I’d resort to a couple of Panadol Night’s. Then a colleague wrote about how her own fear was cured by a couple of hours in a flight simulator, so I gave it a whirl. It turns out I’m not pilot material (I landed my plane on the roof of the virtual Dubai airport) but she was right, and flights were immediately easier. A few months later I realized that I’d skipped my pre-boarding date with three fingers of Jack Daniels, and I’ve been fine ever since.
Do you have a similar story to share? You know what to do! I’ll keep tabs on these and share them all down the road…
Dr Jenn Salib Huber is a Canadian registered dietitian, naturopathic doctor and intuitive eating coach on a mission to help women thrive in midlife. She’s also one of the first people I connected with when I started out in this space. I just love her ‘undiet’ take on the way we eat, and her overall vibe about this transition. Check it out where you get your podcasts or over at my sweet new platform, Buzzsprout.
Click, watch, listen, follow, read….
• If you read one thing this week, make it Mona Eltahawy’s essay Menopause is shit. Menopause is amazing Feminist Giant
• Do men do this? State of Menopause CEO Stacy London is gathering a group of her counterparts, even ones she competes with, for World Menopause Month. “It really is an all ships rise together movement for this community,” she tells Forbes
• I wrote a thing on my other platform that’s been about 10 years in the making: Are you done with therapy? Livehealthy
• The Apple Watch 8 is going to be measuring skin temperature at two locations on the wrist. The feature is aimed at ovulation tracking, but it has obvious applications for monitoring the rate and severity of hot flashes and night sweats that I’m very surprised Apple hasn’t decided to market to us. Mashable
• How do you say ‘hot flashes’ in Arabic? Always x Saudi designer Nasiba Hafiz launch the world’s ‘coolest’ fashion collection Campaign ME
People, this was a week. (Excuse my language) I was sick three days, with something vaguely stomach-related that came with a helping of terrible mood, body pain and extreme fatigue. When I started to feel better and tried to catch up, I couldn’t upload the latest podcast, and got NO SUPPORT AT ALL from the platform hosting it, and literally wanted to throw myself off my balcony and QUIT Hotflash inc altogether. I finally got over myself and hired the savvy young person who has helped me with all the other things I could not do before this, which led to an entire weekend switching my entire podcast and newsletter platforms, because why not just get it all done, and then dealing with all the LITTLE FREAKING THINGS THAT CAN GO WRONG when you do things like this. But change is good, and underneath the chaos and panic, there is a knowing it’s going to a better, more process-driven, saner place.
Kinda like this whole menopause thing.
Except unfortunately we can’t hire a young person to help with that. AMx
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So interesting- never made the connection between newer fears and menopause before. Definitely more anxiety too, which I didn’t realize was a symptom either. Thanks for the info!
The only way I knew about Courteney Cox comments on menopause was because I knew about her depression connection. She was one of the first to bring up her struggles....