Marketing and politicizing menopause

The Associated Press reported this week on the marketing of a new line of menopause products – “a line of products that target 50 million American women who are or will soon go through menopause. Priced between $3.99 and $7.99, the line includes lubricant for vaginal dryness, panty freshener stickers and feminine wash for odor and cooling towelettes and roll-on gel for women having hot flashes.” Excerpt:

Feminine washes are usually not recommended by many doctors, says Dr. Lauren F. Streicher, a gynecologist and assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. And products that mask vaginal odor could cause people to not treat what is causing that symptom in the first place, she added.

“The idea of covering it up with a freshener is an inappropriate approach,” Streicher said. “I’m thrilled people are paying attention, but I don’t want to see people taken advantage of.”

And USA Today reports:

But do we really need more products that suggest women, basically, stink? The new “daily freshness” products — like all the sprays, douches and fresheners before them — might actually be harmful, doctors say.

“Vaginal odor is not a common symptom that patients come to doctors with,” or a problem that becomes more common during menopause, says Elisa Ross, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Cleveland Clinic. When a woman does notice an unusual odor, she might have an infection, Ross says: “Very few doctors recommend these wash products because they can mask symptoms that should be brought to a doctor’s attention. They can also cause irritation themselves.”

Also this week, Liz Scherer, on her Flashfree: Not Your Mama’s Menopause blog, wrote, “Politicizing Menopause.”   Read the entire post for yourself.  But I wanted to grab two excerpts:

  • “Is it at all possible that menopause has been overpoliticized, medicalized and poorly characterized, a “phenomenon not so much hijacked by medicine as gradually occupied, [with] authorities throughout the ages grimly trying and failing to define their subject?” “
  • “We’re drowning in politics, medicine and industry. And it’s difficult to discern truth from fiction, data from data, risk from benefit”

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Comments (4)

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Liz Scherer

July 16, 2012 at 9:09 am

Thanks Gary, for the inclusion. I was struck by the introduction of the line extension for Poise, most notably by the sheer lack of attention to the product itself and how it could mask symptoms that require medical attention. I have long believed that menopause would become the next billion dollar industry and I have watched that prediction unfold over the past 4 years.

Yvonne DiVita

July 16, 2012 at 10:02 am

We’re a society obsessed with ‘smell.’ Everything we use has perfume in it. Especially women’s products. I hope women in this target market refuse to buy these products. I hope they rebel and do negative reviews on all of their blogs. I hope they realize that menopause is far more than a worry about body odor. Puh-lease! Oh, and Kimberly-Clark does’t speak for me. So, I’m not impressed by their new product line. What they should be doing is marketing to women over 50 by reminding us how young we are, how vibrant we are, and how desirable. And then, maybe, we’ll listen to them tell us we smell. But, not likely.