What does menopause look like today? The answer certainly isn't the same for every woman. So, in order to capture a more inclusive snapshot, we sought out to ask a large segment of women what their experience has been, with the answers forming the basis for Bonafide's 2022 State of Menopause Report.
At Bonafide, our mission is to design better, safer and clinically validated solutions to support women who are going through menopause and dealing with the myriad of symptoms that can go along with it. This is why we've invested heavily in survey research. Speaking with a broad range of women of perimenopausal and menopausal age helps us better understand how women are experiencing this significant life shift and making decisions about their treatment options. That, in turn, gives us insight into what we can do to help.
Just as important, our research helps to spark a conversation that goes beyond the few thousand participants in our surveys. As word of our findings spreads, our hope is that more women, healthcare providers (HCPs), and partners/spouses will talk openly about the menopause transition. And more women may get the support and care they need and deserve in order to feel their best.
To be fair, menopause is being talked about more today than in years or decades past. Women are more likely to look to their mothers, aunts or women in their friend or family networks to help provide context. Even HCPs are starting to speak more openly on the topic. The Internet has exploded with a wealth of information – but there's still work to be done, and we at Bonafide want to be a part of it.
So, let's talk about what we've learned so far - and take a peek at the findings we’ve captured for 2022.
What We Learned in 2021
Our first State of Menopause Study was a fact-finding mission regarding the symptoms, treatments, and general dispositions of over 1,000 U.S. women in various stages of their menopause journey. When it came to learning which symptoms affected women the most and whether they sought treatment, the responses were telling:
- 73% of women stated they were experiencing, yet not currently treating symptoms of menopause
- 61% of menopausal women reported that their vaginal dryness contributed to painful sex, yet 41% of them admitted to never using lubricants or sex aids during sex with a partner
- Vaginal atrophy, which causes symptoms like vaginal dryness and painful sex, is treatable with vaginal moisturizer, yet 68% of menopausal women stated they had never used OTC vaginal treatments
The survey also provided a look into who women are (or aren't) talking to about menopause, how menopause is impacting their sex lives, and the treatments least likely to be considered by these participants. If you'd like to take a look at the complete survey and results for yourself, you can access the full 2021 report here.
What We're Learning Today
Our 2022 State of Menopause Study picked up where 2021 left off. This year, we doubled our survey participants and sought to dig deeper into the respondents’ menopause experiences and symptom management, plus we had the goal of better understanding where they felt they could be getting more support as well as garner a stronger understanding of their feelings toward aging, in a more general context.
Interestingly, we found that things are already starting to change, albeit gradually when it comes to women better understanding what to expect during menopause. Women are becoming more aware of the signs and symptoms that occur throughout the menopause transition, but still feel the need for greater education on the topic to better prepare them for this life change. Our data also seems to suggest a generational gap between women in their early 40s being more proactive versus those in their mid-50s regarding speaking with their healthcare providers before experiencing symptoms of perimenopause or menopause.
Regardless of age though, more than half of the women we spoke with said they felt unprepared for their menopause symptoms and wished for more awareness of what to expect. Roughly half of the women surveyed stated they were surprised by how much they were affected by hot flashes (52%), sleep problems (51%), and night sweats (49%), while brain fog and increased feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress followed closely behind as notable disruptive symptoms respondents were taken off guard by.
Menopause was also found to have a significant impact on participants' sex lives, with 43% of women experiencing lower libido and 33% reporting less confidence in the bedroom. While partners are stepping up – 58% of women say they feel supported by their spouse or romantic partner – so, there's still room for improvement. Nearly 30% of women reported that they felt a lack of understanding from their partner in regard to sex during menopause.
Where Do We Go from Here?
Our attitudes and approach towards menopause seem to be evolving. Just 25% of our 2022 survey respondents reported feeling a significant aversion towards this life phase. And while we wish that number was even lower, it suggests that many more women are embracing menopause, and exploring new ways to manage their symptoms and restore their quality of life, and that's something to feel good about.