Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. is a Gynecologist, Director of the New York Menopause Center, Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Assistant Attending Obstetrician and Gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is a board certified fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Allen is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board and the Women’s Health Director of The Weill Cornell Community Clinic (WCCC). Dr. Allen was the recipient of the 2014 American Medical Women’s Association Presidential Award.

This address was delivered by Patricia Yarberry Allen at the Women’s Voices for Change Gala held Nov. 21, 2005. Photos of the event are available here.

I thank you Liz and Ann for your beautiful introduction.

Thank you all for your presence this evening. I am going to speak very briefly about why we are here.

As you know, I am a doctor. For 23 years, I’ve taken care of women in menopause. I am on the front lines, a first responder. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to see who managed menopause well and who did not, to see what worked and what did not.

I began to focus on the menopausal transition in 1991, when Gail Sheehy asked me to consult with her on her book “The Silent Passage.” What an incredible and unique opportunity.

I was 42 and menopausal. I traveled across the country with her to talk to groups of women just like me in this stage of life. I was deeply affected by hearing first-hand how women felt about what was happening to them.

Some women experienced few symptoms. However, so many felt a loss of youth, loss of sexual vitality, loss of visibility, loss of power and loss of hope.

I am not saying that this passage is easy, but there is no reason for women to experience shame, isolation, confusion and fear of the unknown.

Menopause is a universal experience. It is not a disease.  Each woman experiences it in her own unique way. Menopause will define one-half of your life. Decide how you want to live it. How can you be the best you can be?

We believe that with accurate knowledge and current information, you can harness the tumultuous energy of hormonally-induced change to transform your life.

Last year, Dr. Wulf Utian asked me to help the North American Menopause Society take their message beyond the scientific and medical communities. This organization is the preeminent professional organization devoted to women’s health in midlife and beyond.

You’ve probably never heard of the North American Menopause Society. Women’s Voices for Change, its first collaborative partner, intends to change that. This collaboration will connect each of you and the 50 million women in America in the menopausal transition to the great work of the North American Menopause Society.

In collaboration with the North American Menopause Society, we are working on a national scale. Closer to home, to assist underserved menopausal women, we have created Project Esperanza, a fully-funded clinical outreach project that is providing copies of the North American Menopause Society’s Guidebook on Menopause, translated into Spanish, for the first time, as well as free bone density exams for 1,000 underserved Hispanic women in New York City over the next year.

Most importantly, in partnership with New York Presbyterian Hospital, each woman in Project Esperanza will be offered a medical home at that hospital. We are hopeful that Project Esperanza will become a prototype for similar programs across the country.

We’ve come a very long way since my travels with Gail Sheehy in 1991. Your support has allowed us to create this new organization, Women’s Voices for Change, and your presence here tonight will help us change the perception of menopause.

This is the Era of the New Menopause. Tonight we are going to change a little history. Our ambitions are not modest. We are not only going to change how people think of menopause, we are going to change how women experience it.

You are the 400 founders of women’s voices for change. The power of coming together and putting a face on and giving a voice to this organization cannot be underestimated.

Four-hundred plus women over 40, unescorted and in their most beautiful gowns, have courageously chosen to be part of this new social movement.

We are veterans of other movements. We have changed perceptions before. We know how to do this.

Please stand up. I want to look at all of you. We are clearly visible, powerful, sexy and committed to change.

This is our coming out party, and we are here to show others that on the road ahead for menopausal women, the best is yet to come.