May 05, 2023



How Pharma Marketers Can Help Patients Navigate Perimenopause and Menopause

As women age, their bodies go through many changes, including perimenopause. By educating patients about this transitional phase that happens before menopause, pharma marketers can help women stay informed, engaged, and in control of their health.

Perimenopause is a natural transition that women experience as they approach menopause,  marking the period when the ovaries start producing less estrogen. It typically begins when a woman enters her 40s and can last anywhere from two to 10 years before ending with menopause.

But until recently, the tech and medical industries have largely overlooked and under-recognized perimenopause. The word “perimenopause” did not appear in The New York Times until 1997, and web searches surrounding this health season remained historically low. And according to AARP, only around 20% of obstetrics and gynecology programs provide training in menopause medicine. This is a problem, considering that many patients don’t realize their uncomfortable symptoms are related to perimenopause. 

Fortunately, the topic has started to gain more attention, with celebrity advocates like Oprah, Michelle Obama, Naomi Watts, and Viola Davis sharing their personal experiences to help destigmatize, educate, and empower other women. Here’s why starting conversations about perimenopause and menopause is a significant step in the right direction—and how pharma marketers can help perimenopausal patients advocate for themselves.

Misdiagnoses are Common for Perimenopause Patients

According to the University of Utah Health, 75% of women report experiencing symptoms during the perimenopausal stage. While menopause is often associated with hot flashes and night sweats, there are actually over 30 symptoms that can manifest due to hormonal imbalances and fluctuations, including anxiety, joint pain, loss of libido, and brain fog.

However, these symptoms are broad enough to be attributable to many other diseases and conditions, making perimenopause and even menopause all the more challenging to diagnose. For example, chronic fatigue, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, and fibromyalgia are common misdiagnoses that share the same symptoms as perimenopause. 

A 2022 Biote study found that 25% of women aged 50 to 65 have never been told by their doctor that they were in perimenopause or menopause, despite 92% of respondents reporting one or more symptoms in the past year. And the longer a patient remains undiagnosed, the harder it is for them to manage the source of their discomfort properly.

In fact, perimenopause and menopause can impact a woman’s life in significant ways, including work performance, personal relationships, and mental and emotional health. In the same Biote study, 40% of women said menopause regularly interfered with their work performance and that 17% have quit or considered leaving their jobs because of their symptoms. Menopause impacts work productivity so much that it costs American women an estimated $1.8 billion in lost working time per year. 

It’s important to remember that perimenopause and menopause are not conditions—but natural phenomena that all women experience when they reach middle age. As such, it’s crucial to raise awareness of the range of symptoms associated with both perimenopause and menopause. Such conversations can also improve medical professionals’ understanding of this phase of life to ensure that women receive timely and appropriate care.

Pharma Marketers Can Help Make a Difference

Perimenopause can be a challenging time for women, as symptoms vary from person to person and can be difficult to diagnose and treat. However, pharma marketers can encourage proactive conversations around perimenopause and menopause to empower women to take control of their health and well-being.

Inform and Normalize

Because many women experiencing perimenopause or menopause report changes in cognitive function and mental health, the International Menopause Society established new guidance for healthcare professionals to recognize and treat these symptoms. But as of 2020, only 12 of 177 medical trainees surveyed reported feeling prepared enough to manage symptoms related to menopause. Another survey found that most women struggling with perimenopausal symptoms were regularly misinformed and misdiagnosed due to limited knowledge, with nearly 61% stating they were never informed about symptoms associated with the onset of perimenopause or menopause.

Since perimenopause and menopause have been considered taboo for so long, many women may not be aware of these stages until they experience them. One of the most important things that pharma marketers can do is reassure them that their experiences are normal. Further, marketers can create awareness campaigns and extend research to both physicians and patients. Facilitating better discussions can help enhance the diagnostic process and empower women to better manage their symptoms during this phase of life.

Promote New Treatment Options

The perimenopause industry is now estimated to be worth $10 billion, with a growing number of pharma brands launching to help women who are experiencing symptoms, such as vasomotor symptoms (VMS), also known as hot flashes and night sweats. For example, Astellas is expected to introduce a new menopause drug for VMS called fezolinetant—the first pharmaceutical innovation in this space in a long time. It’s a promising new treatment option that could help women alleviate discomfort from unusual heat sensations, which are often considered the cardinal symptoms of menopause.

Encourage patients to explore their treatment options and grow their confidence to lead these discussions with their doctor.

Expand Resource Access

In times of apprehension and uncertainty, a sense of community is key. Pharma marketers can help bring comfort and ease to patients navigating perimenopause and menopause by leveraging online communities like the Perimenopause Hub, which was launched in 2019 to provide women with information, resources, and access to experts. A safe and supportive space for women to connect with others going through similar experiences can help break down stigma and isolation.

Other helpful resources that can assist patients as they learn more about their perimenopause symptoms include Healthgrades’ online appointment guide. This personalized to-do list prepares patients to lead engaging and productive conversations with their doctor about their symptoms. For more extensive research, our comprehensive menopause-focused Right Care Center can also empower patients, leading them toward actionable care.

The patient journey to manage perimenopause is filled with pain points. From a general lack of awareness to inaccessible resources, these barriers to care can make this phase challenging to live through, especially if a patient doesn’t know where to begin. As a pharma marketer, you have the opportunity to help women better understand their bodies and find high-quality care that’s effective, accessible, and life-changing.

Help Patients Demystify and Destigmatize Perimenopause with Healthgrades

At Healthgrades, transparency creates confidence. By becoming a Healthgrades partner, you can help educate women on perimenopause and menopause and motivate treatment discussions. Our best-in-class editorial content and resource hubs inform and empower patients to take the next step and seek the care they need—while giving your brand the opportunity to connect with low-funnel consumers when they’re deeply engaged.

As a partner, you can help patients find the right doctors when treatment is top of mind with our Guided Physician Search tool—integrated into our content and your Help your most relevant consumers find specialists, make appointments, and prepare for treatment discussions. 

Get in touch with us today to discover how your brand and Healthgrades can lead more productive conversations about perimenopause and menopause and destigmatize this ordinary stage of life.