Managing Mighty Menopause.
During the next two days, we will explore certain ways that women and men experience their bodies aging in midlife. Ironically, both of the MEA alums being interviewed were in the same beta Baja cohort in April 2018. MEA co-founder Christine Sperber interviews Jeanne Chung in today’s post.
Christine. Hi Jeanne! Please tell us about your background, your journey and Mighty Menopause.
Jeanne: The pretty succinct description would be “ex-banker, ex-consultant, yogini/teacher/trainer and serial wellness entrepreneur” and even more succinct would be half-hippie, half-nerd. And now, founder of MIGHTY Menopause.
Like many founders, especially female founders of female health/wellness companies, MIGHTY was borne of my own personal frustration with perimenopause, seeking help in conventional medicine and literally being blown away at how utterly useless that experience was. By now, many of us are familiar with the dynamics at play: Gynecologists are not trained in menopause and few understand perimenopause as a distinct phase with its a distinct set of symptoms. Menopause is treated as a medical condition or even a disease as, often, women ailments get dismissed as psychosomatic. It’s such bullshit, especially in the 21st century...
But more importantly, as I started to dig around for remedies and was talking about menopause with people (you want to know how to shut a conversation down, especially with a guy? say the word “menopause” LOL), I came across experiences in complete opposition.
First, a girlfriend of mine who is a similar age, So Cal girl, cool, techie, burner and reiki master was like, “Oh, hell nooo!! I am SO not ready to deal with my aging” (insert scream emoji here) and had a full body negative response.
The second is more of an amalgam of encounters. Every single woman I’ve met well past menopause (late 60s, 70s, 80s) was radiant, vital, and happy. Their perspective was sort of like, “Darling, it’s SO fine over here! Menopause? It was horrible / I can’t remember / Who cares about it now?” (insert beautiful contented smile).
And then I knew it. I saw it. I needed to modernize menopause so that women can get to the other side - to be radiant, vital and happy. That’s why I created the other trademark: MIGHTY elevating women as they age®. My not-so-secret mission is to build a world full of badass elder women.
Christine: One of my surprises around menopause is the silence. We know as men age they experience roughly a 1% per year testosterone drop - but we women swing for the fences in our mid-forties. It can be intense, and it seems like a big secret. What’s up with that?
Jeanne: So much is up with that! Where do I start? If you do a Google ngram for perimenopause, you’ll see it didn’t start showing up until the mid-90s. No wonder no one knows about it!
It’s a confluence of many factors...let me count the ways. Women’s health was not considered a "thing" until only about 30 years ago. Women being poorly educated about their own bodies. Women are now living 50% of their adult life past menopause. The patriarchy (of course). The dearth of meaningful research and lack of longitudinal data sets of hormone levels. Youth-obsessed culture that doesn’t hold space for the aging woman in society at large nor in the mindset of individual women as they hit midlife, i.e., who am I now, who am I going to be?
Christine: I’ve always been intrigued by the way different cultures view and experience menopause. Perhaps it’s situational, or nutritional; any insights into places that do it better than others and lessons we could learn?
Jeanne: Yeah, it’s wild, right?! Reporting of menopause-related symptoms in Asia is lower than Europe which is lower than the U.S. Is it that Asian women just get on with it and American women are prone to complain and seek help? Is it diet? Cultural norms around the elder generation? So hard to say but many intriguing throughlines to follow.
Christine: If you had the world stage for 10 minutes, what menopause education would you drop?
Jeanne: Oh, this question gets me fired up. I have SO much to say how can I limit it to 10 mins? In these precious 10 mins, I would lay down two things.
First, the basics - the menopause phases - perimenopause (shit goes haywire), post-menopause (moving toward the new normal but not there yet) and later post-menopause (at your new normal, i.e., badass elder woman).
Second, the hope and the responsibility ~ the social context of menopause. And not in a corny motivational meme-y way. Menopause is not the end. But menopause is a very critical time. It may be rocky but if we catch each other, we can shift the trajectory from this “messy middle” into a new arc towards radiance and vitality. I want this for all women. I want this for society. The world will be a much better place. Wouldn’t you agree?
Christine: What are the unexpected pleasures of menopause? Is it true I may no longer have any or as many F’s to give?
Jeanne: Yeah, I am looking forward to not having to buy any more period products. It can’t come soon enough. And yeah, no more Fs to give … am looking forward to that, too! Even thinking about it is pleasurable, no?
Christine: Closing thoughts?
Jeanne: Menopause gets a bad rap. Like something that needs to be fixed. Let’s change that. It’s a thing. Totally natural and expected. All humans with a uterus and ovaries will go through it. Let it happen. Get support through the rocky bits and I’ll see you on the other side. I can’t wait to be badass at 80!
Jeanne Chung is the founder and CEO of MIGHTY. She has a unique combination of left brain and right brain talent and is an MEA alum from more than three years ago when MEA was only in its beta form in Baja.