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Menopause is the new Orange right now…why?

Navigating the Wave of Attention: An Interview with Claudia Mason of Speak with Penelope

In recent years, the narrative around menopause has shifted significantly, catching the eye of venture capitalists, insurance firms, and healthcare providers. As the founder of Speak with Penelope, a specialized healthcare service assisting women in managing perimenopause and menopause symptoms in British Columbia, Claudia Mason is at the forefront of this shift. We sat down with Claudia to delve into the dynamics of this newfound attention.

Interviewer: Claudia, the conversation around menopause is gaining traction, notably evidenced by the inclusion of a menopause panel at the recent Wired Conference. How do you interpret this shift?

Claudia Mason: This shift is a notable recognition in both societal and economic realms. The involvement of various stakeholders signifies a growing acknowledgement of women’s health issues, which were previously underrepresented or misunderstood. The Wired conference panel dedicated to menopause illustrates this turning point, marking a positive stride towards more comprehensive healthcare services and discussion around women’s health.

Interviewer: As the menopause space garners more attention, there’s a burgeoning commercial interest. How does this impact the quality and authenticity of care provided to women?

Claudia Mason: It’s indeed a double-edged sword. The commercial interest might overshadow the primary goal of providing authentic care and support to women going through menopause. As the space becomes increasingly crowded, it’s imperative for women to conduct thorough research to find trustworthy providers and sources of information, ensuring the services and information received are accurate, beneficial, and tailored to individual needs.

Interviewer: Speak with Penelope is a venture aimed at providing specialized care in this space. How do you ensure that the commercial aspects don’t detract from the quality of care?

Claudia Mason: At Speak with Penelope, our focus is on providing a comprehensive and personalized approach to managing perimenopause and menopause symptoms. Our initiative sets a high standard of care and information, ensuring that women’s health remains the focal point amidst growing commercial interest. It’s about building strong, trustworthy relationships with our clientele and keeping the conversation going on reputable platforms to ensure the narrative remains focused on authentic care and support.

Interviewer: As this sector continues to evolve, what steps should be taken to maintain a positive trajectory for menopause care and awareness?

Claudia Mason: Staying ahead of the curve through continuous learning, engaging with communities, and ensuring that the narrative remains centered on authentic care and support are crucial. It’s about shaping a positive trajectory for menopause care and awareness, which will play a significant role in the evolving landscape of women’s healthcare.

Interviewer: Claudia, as the founder of Speak with Penelope, you’re navigating through a nascent yet rapidly evolving sector of menopause care. Could you share your perspective on the key challenges and opportunities that startups like yours face in this industry?

Claudia Mason: Certainly. The menopause care industry is indeed experiencing significant growth as it strives to meet the needs of millions of women. However, startups face unique hurdles, notably the lack of precedents for traditional exit strategies like acquisitions or IPOs. This poses challenges for investors seeking proven paths to recoup investments. On a brighter note, as the sector matures, we anticipate an increase in M&A activity, with larger companies recognizing the value in innovative startups like ours.

Interviewer: The topic of insurance coverage and employer buy-in is a hurdle but also an area of opportunity as seen with some beginning to offer menopause benefits. How is Speak with Penelope working towards navigating this challenge?

Claudia Mason: Gaining coverage from private insurers is indeed a hurdle but a crucial one for enhancing accessibility and scaling in the long term. Currently, many in the space utilize direct-to-consumer models. However, there’s a positive trend with some startups initiating pilot programs with major carriers, and employer interest is also rising. At Speak with Penelope, we’re actively engaging with healthcare providers to validate the clinical credibility of our therapeutic approaches, which in turn, strengthens our case for broader insurance coverage over time.

Interviewer: With integrated platforms like Maven offering bundled health services, how does Speak with Penelope plan to compete or differentiate itself in providing specialized menopause care?

Claudia Mason: The competition from integrated platforms requires a strategic focus. While large-scale providers offer one-stop-shop convenience, niche specialists like Speak with Penelope have an edge in delivering customized, high-quality care experiences. Our specialized expertise allows us to provide clear value through results, ensuring that the personalized care we offer augments, rather than substitutes, existing care protocols. This way, we aim to thrive in a market that has room for multiple models.

Interviewer: The long-term viability of menopause startups is contingent on various factors, including the optimization of products and services, and engagement with payers and employers. What steps is Speak with Penelope taking to ensure its sustainable growth and impact on women’s health?

Claudia Mason: Realizing the scale required to impact millions of women involves navigating these challenges with persistence and creativity. At Speak with Penelope, we’re continuously optimizing our products and services, showcasing proven outcomes, and persisting in engaging with payers and employers. The opportunities to improve the quality of life for women going through menopause make all the growing pains worthwhile, and we’re committed to overcoming these hurdles to make a lasting positive impact in the menopause care industry.

1. Fierce Healthcare article discussing the challenges for investors and startup founders in the menopause care industry, including the lack of precedents for traditional exit events like acquisitions or IPOs[1].

2. SJF Ventures market analysis outlining startups disrupting menopause care and opportunities for investors, including the fact that menopause care remains a young, unproven industry with limited examples of successful exits[2].

3. Axios article discussing the growing menopause-at-work market and how companies like Carrot are gaining traction in the menopause market[3].

4. PR Newswire article discussing the challenges faced by women in the workforce due to menopause and the need for employers to provide age-inclusive fertility benefits for employees[4].

5. New York Times article discussing the movement to create “menopause-friendly workplaces” and how companies are realizing that offering help is a way to retain experienced women in the workforce[5].

6. Time article discussing the drive for menopause benefits in the US and how companies are taking menopause seriously as it can help their bottom line[6].

These sources provide insights into the challenges and opportunities in the emerging menopause care industry, including the lack of precedents for traditional exit events, the need for insurance coverage and employer buy-in, and the competition from integrated platforms.


There was a panel about the future of women’s health care at the last Wired Health Conference in 2023. The panel discussed various topics related to women’s health, including menstruation, menopause, and women’s bodies. Jennifer Garrison, cofounder and director of the Global Consortium for Reproductive Longevity and Equality at the Buck Institute in California, was one of the panelists. She emphasized the need to change how the medical field thinks and talks about menopause, viewing it as a medical transition that takes place over several years with many health effects, rather than a single snapshot in a woman’s life.


[1] https://www.wired.com/story/wired-health-future-womens-care-jennifer-garrison-geeta-nargund-kate-ryder/

[2] https://www.menopause.org/annual-meetings/2023-meeting/scientific-program

[3] https://www.menopause.org/annual-meetings/2023-meeting

[4] https://www.fromdayone.co

[5] https://youtube.com/watch?v=Cdkj-RmjePc

[6] https://www.mmm-online.com/home/channel/sponsored/evolving-landscape-womens-midlife-healthcare/

[7] https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/population-care/what-doctors-wish-patients-knew-about-menopause

[8] https://www.seattletimes.com/explore/careers/a-movement-to-make-workplaces-menopause-friendly/

[1] https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/health-tech/menopause-care-market-remains-largely-untapped-heres-why-investors-and-startups-should

[2] https://sjfventures.com/sjf-ventures-market-analysis-outlines-startups-disrupting-menopause-care-and-opportunities-for-investors/

[3] https://www.axios.com/2022/11/23/the-growing-menopause-at-work-market

[4] https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/women-in-the-workforce-face-significant-challenges-due-to-menopause-rank-their-50s-as-most-challenging-decade-at-work-yet-receive-minimal-support-new-survey-reveals-301630525.html

[5] https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/22/nyregion/menopause-women-work.html

[6] https://time.com/6290706/menopause-care-work-us-companies/

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