Crowdsourcing menopause

Posted by on Sep 27, 2010 in menopause | 4 comments

Crowdsource has become the buzzword of the oughts and the interwebz. Defined as leveraging mass collaboration in order to achieve a common goal, it’s not unusual to find businesses crowdsourcing charity efforts, authors crowdsourcing written works and musicians crowdsourcing performance pieces. However, can healthcare be crowdsourced?

I believe it can, as witnessed by the burgeoning epatient movement (aka participatory medicine). In fact, this week, I’m taking a break from my regular schedule to attend ePatient 2010 in hopes of gaining a better understanding how participatory medicine, collaboration between consumers of healthcare and their practitioners and empowered patients will drive the cultural shift that is taking place within our healthcare system.

More importantly, however, is the fact that I believe that as women, being empowered, i.e. educating ourselves, asking hard questions and participating in decisions in our healthcare, is the only way that we can truly take back our transition to midlife and menopause and remove the decisions about managing it from the hands of industry and practitioners who insist on medicalizing it.

So, where does crowdsourcing fit in?

Last week, I wrote a post about Hot Flash Havoc, the documercial that’s about to be screened in Washington DC and other cities this week. In the process of writing about the film, I realized that the director and producer had unwittingly crowdsourced their piece by asking a lot of pro-HRT experts and patients to join forces to promote so-called discrepancies in the Women’s Health Initiative Study and the foibles of the National Institutes of Health. In the case of this particular project, crowdsourcing actually did a disservice to the multitudes of women who remain confused and lack guidance about HRT and its risks and benefits.

Simultaneously, however, screening Hot Flash Havoc for a group of women provided a glimpse into how menopause could be crowdsourced in more positive and empowering ways. In fact, once we moved on to the broader topic of menopause, the post-film discussion focused on our lives, our personal challenges with menopausal symptoms and most importantly, strategies for dealing with them. Not surprisingly, this conversation continued a week later, when a smaller group got together for drinks and dinner and once again, started discussing the film in general and dealing with menopause specifically.

Women are strange creatures. They often share the most intimate of details with strangers but they can be embarrassed to discuss health concerns with their close friends. Two women can find a bond instantly with little forethought or effort and yet, that bond can be a barrier when things get too personal, or as one friend put it, “embarrassing.”

Why do we continue to be embarrassed to discuss menstruation, hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings and headaches or joint pain? Since when did it become taboo to find ways to utilize our common grounds for a larger cause?

So, this is what I’d like to propose:

Let’s start talking…to each other, to our practitioners and to the world. Let’s figure out what we need, research the hell out of it, seek second and third opinions and insist on making decisions with our practitioners rather than going along with decisions without questioning them, especially when they feel wrong.  Let’s take back menopause and midlife and the transition and make it an acceptable and natural part of aging. Let’s stop making and treating it as a disease and put an end to self-loathing and stigmatization.

Let’s crowdsource menopause in a positive, proactive way.

You in?


  1. 9-29-2010

    As a friend of our says: “You go girl.” While your report of Hot Flash Havoc being crowdsourced to promote HRT is disheartening, your personal resolve to find solutions for yourself and other women facing menopause is extremely heart warming. (I have not yet seen Hot Flash Havoc). Being in this business as a holistic practitioner for 25 years, I’m all for natural. I tend to be quite cynical about the pharmaceutical industry and its hold on modern medicine. Natural solutions for menopausal complaints abound. Some match the effectiveness and far exceed the safety of HRT.

    • 9-30-2010

      Thanks for stopping by and for taking the time to comment. I truly believe that when it comes to menopause, the adage “strength in numbers” apply. I want to take it back and start looking at it as a natural part of a woman’s life, not a disease that requires treatment. What a better place to start that movement than amongst ourselves?

  2. 9-26-2011

    I’m in! Superb commentary.

  3. 9-27-2011

    Terrific! Spread the word!


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