Bring up menopause in friendly conversation, and the mood is likely to plummet. While you may find comfort in knowing that you’re not alone, talk turns quickly to the miserable experiences of menopause: breaking out in a visible sweat while in an important business meeting, waking up drenched at 3 a.m. and not being able to go back to sleep, gaining weight around your middle despite not changing your eating or exercise habits, or flying off the handle when your partner looks at you the wrong way. And many women continue to suffer since traditional care often leaves huge gaps in providing them the relief they need in menopause.
With predominantly negative images surrounding menopause, it may come as a surprise to find out that it’s possible to feel AMAZING during this stage of life. “You don’t have to suck it up and grin and bear it,” says Jill Angelo, founder of Gennev. “Ninety-four percent of our patients report an improvement in their symptoms as a result of working with Gennev providers. Our mission is to improve the standard of care for women in their post reproductive years. This can be a high point in women’s lives. Why allow menopause to hold them back? Let’s catapult them to what’s ahead.”
Gennev’s successful standard of care is Integrated Menopause Care, a team approach between you, a medical doctor, and a health coach. “Women need medical care and lifestyle change to manage their menopause,” says Angelo. “There’s no one prescription pill that can do it all. There’s no one vitamin or behavior change that can do it all. It’s the two working together that makes menopause symptoms manageable.”
On the medical care side are Gennev’s doctors, who are board-certified ob/gyns with experience in treating women in menopause. Many are also certified by the North American Menopause Society as menopause practitioners or are working on their certification. They also follow Gennev’s evidence-based protocols for treatment.
To help women make the necessary lifestyle changes that support their health during their post-reproductive years, Gennev has a team of health coaches who are registered dietitians and often use cognitive behavioral therapy approaches when appropriate. They guide women to create plans and set goals in nutrition, fitness, sleep, mindfulness, and stress management. Then, they help them implement those plans and provide accountability and support so women can achieve their goals, feel better, and live longer, healthier lives. All of the coaches have training and experience working with women in menopause, in addition to following Gennev’s protocols, working in lockstep with Gennev’s doctors.
“It’s truly a care team approach,” says Rebecca Dunsmoor-Su, M.D., the chief medical officer for Gennev. “Every woman’s menopause journey is as unique as she is, so the best treatment for menopause for her will generally require a little experimentation and tweaking to get just the right formula. The care team works together, keeping each other apprised of what’s going on, so a woman doesn’t have to worry about updating her providers.”
Gennev offers a multi-level, in-depth, personal approach compared to traditional menopause care. Most women go to their primary care physician or ob/gyn when menopause symptoms start. Unfortunately, in traditional settings, few doctors are trained in menopause care, and women can end up with multiple medications, general advice, and even misinformation. “Women often leave appointments feeling dismissed and frustrated, as well as with prescriptions that are just addressing the symptoms and not dealing with what’s at the core, which is hormonal change,” says Angelo. Treating the whole person is the only way to improve a woman’s quality of life versus just band-aiding the symptoms.”
This model draws from the broader definition of Integrated Care as defined by the NHS as, “Integrated care is an organizing principle for care delivery with the aim of achieving improved patient care through better coordination of services provided. Integration is the combined set of methods, processes, and models that seek to bring about this improved coordination of care.”
Estrogen affects more than just your reproductive system, which is why the symptoms of menopause are so widespread. Estrogen receptors are found throughout a women’s body, causing this hormone to affect nearly every system in the body, from bones and muscles to the heart and brain. “Because of hormonal shifts during menopause, this is the one time in your life when certain things will set off other things,” says Dr. Dunsmoor-Su. “If a woman’s not sleeping well, it also correlates with her gaining weight because you gain weight when you don’t sleep well.” The effects also go beyond physical health. They affect women mentally and emotionally. In addition, how you manage the changes that are happening now impacts your health down the road.
“When you think of a women’s health, post reproductively, it starts with menopause, and menopause frames up your long-term chronic health,” says Angelo. “Until now, women were never educated on how taking care of our menopausal symptoms also has preventive aspects for our long-term chronic care when we’re in our 50s, 60s, 70s, specifically to heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia.”
With all of that at stake, it’s even more critical to ensure that you’re receiving integrated menopause care. Unfortunately, even major organizations like the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology provide little support in menopause, making it hard to find this type of care. That’s why Gennev created its telehealth approach so no matter where you live in the United States, you have access to a menopause specialist.
Menopause isn’t diagnosed by a physical exam or blood test. Menopause is the point when you’ve gone an entire year without menstruating--the one-year anniversary of your last period. Likewise, there’s no definitive way to determine where you are in perimenopause, the transition to menopause, or how long it will last (typically four to 10 years).
Despite expensive diagnostics, including hormone level tests, or multiple prescription medications, many women continue to suffer. Quality menopause care starts with a conversation. Menopause-trained doctors know the right questions to ask, and at Gennev, our doctors have the time to really listen to you and understand what you’re going through. Unlike traditional doctor appointments, where you get only 10 to 15 minutes with your doctor, your initial appointment with a Gennev doctor will be 30 minutes. And then, your care continues with follow-up visits and recurring appointments with a health coach.
“Everything started going haywire about a year ago,” says Kristine, 50, a Seattle-based realtor. “I was waking up three to four times a night with night sweats. I was fuzzy during the day. My body started changing shape, and I was gaining weight in my middle area even though I was exercising more. My anxiety was out of control. It was affecting my mental health as well. And the thinning hair and drier skin, I felt like I was aging at a rapid pace.”
Kristine tried all of the usual routes to find relief. Her mom wasn’t any help; she had very few, if any, symptoms. Her much younger doctor, who’s a nurse practitioner and naturopath, had little experience with menopause. While she offered suggestions, including prescribing bio-identical hormones, nothing helped. “I got very frustrated with the whole process,” she says.
When she finally started talking to her girlfriends about her symptoms, one of them suggested Gennev, a company focused on helping women through this transition. “It was the specialty I really needed,” says Kristine, who has had two doctor appointments and two health coach appointments in the time it would have taken her to see her regular doctor.
Kristine’s virtual appointment with one of the Gennev doctors couldn’t have been better. “She was confident that we could get this under control, which was such a relief for me,” she says. “She knew her stuff inside and out.” Even though Kristine prefers to avoid medications in favor of natural remedies, she agreed with the doctor’s recommendation to try an estrogen patch. “My symptoms were so severe that I just couldn’t keep living the way I was,” Kristine says. “We talked through my concerns, and I felt comfortable going that route.”
Within about a week, all of Kristine’s menopause symptoms were subsiding. “Everything is moving in the right direction,” she says. But her care didn’t stop there. She started to meet regularly with one of Gennev’s health coaches who’s helped her implement healthy new behaviors into her life like meal planning, eating more protein, and lifting weights. “I learned that women lose muscle mass as they get older, so putting on muscle is now my goal,” says Kristine, who is impressed with the quality of care that she’s getting at a price that’s less than what many of her friends pay for coaching. “Recently, we had an appointment on a Thursday and over the weekend my health coach checked in and sent links for meal prep and recipes for high-protein snacks. It feels like she cares and has a vested interest in my success. It feels like it’s the next level of care.”
In the amount of time Kristine would have been suffering, waiting for an appointment with her regular doctor, she thrived. “I’m not waking up at all in the middle of the night. My anxiety is way down. I’m feeling stronger. My clothes are fitting better. It has been life-changing,” she says.
While Kristine’s journey to feeling better started with a friend’s referral, you can begin your journey now to finding relief from your menopause.
It starts with a simple intake or quiz we call the Menopause Assessment. It provides you with personal health insights about where you’re at in menopause. It also sets up your initial visit with a Gennev doctor, providing information essential for diagnosis, medical guidance, and prescription support.
The next step is to meet with a Gennev health coach to implement a lifestyle plan based on health concerns you shared in your Menopause Assessment and with your doctor. The plan often includes nutrition, movement, mindfulness and stress-relief tactics, and sleep practices to address your personal situation.
As the weeks go by, you control how often you connect with your health coach—whether via appointment or text messaging. She is there as an accountability partner and supporter for you as long as you need her. And if you need to see the doctor months down the road—to check in on a prescription or to report changes in your symptoms—your coach can help you decide when that moment is right for you.
That’s the power of integrated care, and Gennev is bringing this proven approach to treating menopausal symptoms. “Let’s get you feeling better and improving your quality of life now so that you can function and thrive in life, and at the same time, prevent long-term chronic illness,” Angelo says.
It’s time to experience Gennev’s proven integrated care model for menopause. Get started by scheduling an appointment today.