The Chicago Tribune this week looks at why marketers love menopause.

“In the not-so-distant past, the word ‘menopause’ could clear a room,” writes Kristine Blenkhorn Rodriguez. “Now it’s everywhere. Books, articles, clothing — even a popular musical — all trumpet the word.”

Ultimately, it’s all about demographics — as an estimated 37 million women are now menopausal and a female baby boomer turns 50 every seven minutes:

These same 37 million women are part of a privileged buying pool, one that has transformed menopause from a verboten word into a marketing phenomenon. And the Boomers who make up this group are attempting to do with menopause what they have always done: Blaze a trail.

Boomers wield an estimated $2.1 trillion in spending money, according to the MetLife Mature Market Institute, the information and policy arm of insurance company MetLife. They spend it on kids, vacation homes, apparel — and their biggest life transition.

“We are the healthiest, wealthiest, best-educated women to reach this age ever,” says Dotsie Bregel, founder of www.boomerwomenspeak.com, a site for Boomer women. No numbers are available on how many menopause-related products are being sold, but such products seem to be more visible throughout popular culture than ever before.

Helping create the perfect storm for marketers is the utterly individual nature of menopause.

“It’s rare that any two women have the same menopause experience,” says Pamela Boggs, director of education and development for the North American Menopause Society.

Rodriguez sounds a cautionary note, however, as she warns that this marketing frenzy can feed on the confusion surrounding a controversial topic like hormone therapy. Yet the story doesn’t adequately address medical concerns about hormone therapy or alternative therapies such as bioidentical hormones.

Indeed, the closest thing to a critique of the Suzanne Somers school of thought is one doctor’s assessment that “there’s no proof that bioidenticals are any safer or more effective than traditional hormone therapy.” (As a reminder, a congressional hearing was held in April on the misleading and potentially illegal and dangerous claims that some online pharmacies make about bioidentical hormones.)

Newsweek reporter Pat Wingert, co-author with Barbara Kantrowitz of “Is It Hot in Here? Or Is It Me? The Complete Guide to Menopause,” does offer some appropriate advice for those looking for a quick fix:

Women must beware of companies that offer hope in a jar — or on a cotton swab, says author Wingert, who spoke at a menopause panel discussion held early this year at the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago. Some companies, for example, say that if a woman sends in her saliva on a cotton swab, they can help her through a cocktail of supplements and hormones.

But it is Dr. Margery Gass, professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and director of the college’s Menopause and Osteoporosis Center, who best sums up the dilemma women face: “They want one answer, and doctors can’t give it to them because doctors don’t agree on what’s right.”

Christine

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  • Carolyn Hahn June 2, 2007 at 9:24 pm

    I guess I am lucky in not having had anything that would require remediation (except osteopenia, for which I briefly took Fosomax), but why do I feel deeply suspicious that the interest is in finding something [relatively normal] that they can make a buck out of?

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