Jill Angelo is a walking reminder that midlife is just the beginning. After working in the tech industry for 20 years and becoming an executive at Microsoft, Angelo’s gaze began to shift toward women’s healthcare. How can we better support women going through menopause? How can women better support themselves? Through community, trust, and telemedicine, Angelo began to answer some of these questions. In 2015, she founded genneve, a rapidly growing digital platform that supports women in midlife, all around the world.
Tell us about genneve. Whom does it aim to serve?
Our community consists of women in their early 40s, who are starting to experience hormonal changes in their bodies associated with menopause. There are 34 symptoms associated with women’s transition in menopause. Women experience a lot, and no woman goes through it the same way. We have both the services component, where you can even get a prescription if you need to, or you can shop for over-the-counter products in our marketplace.
Talking about menopause seems to make a lot of people uncomfortable. How is genneve pushing back against these weird cultural taboos?
For one, we’ve coined the hashtags #menopause, #NoTimeToPause. A lot of people think menopause is the end. That it’s the end of a woman’s reproductive health or whatever, but we say it’s just the start. It’s the kick-off to the whole second half of life, and there are so many amazing things for women in our emotional and physical health that are in a better place as we move into that second half of life. If we can make menopause a kick-off, versus the end to something, that’s the win in my mind. Then the stigma will start to break down.
What do you look for in genneve’s telemedicine practitioners?
We have a pretty strenuous interviewing process. We want M.D.s and nurse practitioners who have actually worked with women in menopause. It truly is not something that the general medical profession is educated on. Oftentimes, women hear, “You’re just gonna have to deal with it,” or, “It’s all in your head,” and they’re not getting the quality of care they need. We make sure that the quality of care we’re providing is actually going to meet their needs.
A family friend of mine went through early menopause, and her primary care doctor simply didn’t believe she was experiencing what she was experiencing. What can genneve patients expect differently from their doctors?
Unfortunately, we hear that a lot. What we hear most often from new members to the genneve community is, “Well, thank God; I’m not going crazy.” We’ve tended to be a last resort, not a first resort, because we’re new. How we deal with that differently, is we truly believe that menopause starts with a conversation. There’s a way and a solution to feel better, and if they can find that right practitioner, and have that conversation, that can change their well-being in a big way.
Do you think this form of telemedicine is the future of healthcare?
Yes, absolutely. There’s a recent statistic that shows telemedicine will be the platform for how exchanges between patient and physician will occur in the future. It’s growing by 15 percent year after year. Huge opportunity here economically, not only for the businesses who are offering these services, but also it’s a cost-saver for the patients. You don’t have to drive to the clinic, pay for parking, wait for your appointment. We know it’s a paradigm shift for some people, but it’s worth it to make it accessible.
Having had several careers in your life, what advice would you give to other women who are thinking of changing career paths?
You’ve got to just start it. Far too often, especially as women, we wait until we have everything kind of perfectly thought out, lined up, and planned, so we can make the switch really elegantly. That’s going to hold you back. It’s never going to be perfect. It’s always going to be messy. Just start doing. When I started genneve, what we had as a business in that point in time was not what we have today.
What advice would you give a friend who is going through menopause?
The moment you start to experience any changes, like your period fluctuating, talk to a practitioner. Far too often, no matter where we are with our health, women tend to wait until something’s really wrong to go talk to a doctor. I’m very much a prevention advocate. There’s a much better way to go through all of this than most women do, because they’re just not informed, and they think they have to wait until something’s really wrong to go seek out help.
Any other advice you’d like to offer our readers?
I have to underscore to women who are moving into their 40s and 50s: Just take control of your health. We’re learning to have our financial planning and wealth management in place — do the same thing with your health. We have so much life left to live in midlife. Be attentive to your body and your mind, and your spirit, and your soul. #NoTimeToPause. Just get after it, and feel your best.