Women’s health is undergoing a generational change

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When it comes to women’s health, Americans – and the advertisers who market them – are getting more blunt.

What is happening: Women’s health is undergoing a generational cultural change. Younger women are talking more openly about their periods and sexual health issues – and more companies are marketing them with messages women whispered just a few years ago.

Why is this important: The change in conversation and what people feel comfortable addressing head on could ultimately lead to changes in the health care women receive.

  • “Consumers and women today are more empowered than they have ever been to talk about issues that have historically been stigmatized or referred to shamefully,” said Varsha Rao, CEO of Nurx, a telehealth company. for women.

Much of this change came with changing expectations among Generation Z.

  • A survey of more than 2,000 women aged 18-38 by menstrual cup company Lunette found that 83% of Gen Z felt menstruation was a totally natural process and should be discussed by everyone. world, including men. In comparison, only 72% of millennials agreed.
  • There is a “profound seismic shift” from previous generations, Deena Shakir, partner at Lux Capital, told Insider.

There was also a better understanding of the market power of women’s health in recent years.

  • Women-led healthcare brands such as Maven, Elvie, and Nurx have become more mainstream in recent years, raising hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital for technology solutions focused on women’s health issues.
  • In 2019, the “femtech” industry generated $ 820.6 million in global revenue, according to PitchBook.

Inventory: Accompanying this change, messages from marketers are much more candid than before.

  • Just ten years ago, menstrual hygiene company Kotex was banned from showing its ads in the United States for using the word “vagina.”
  • But last year, menstrual underwear brand Thinx ran an ad showing women struggling with period stained sheets before finding out about their product.
  • Far from using the euphemisms of intimate washes, the advertisements of Lume deodorant encourage women to apply the product to fight against their “crotch and butt odors”.
  • Schitt’s Creek actress Annie Murphy told viewers, “Welcome to my vagina,” before touting the benefits of non-hormonal contraceptive gel Phexxi, while an ad for estrogenic drug Imvexxy exclaims: “Your vagina is queen. “

This level of openness can be useful in setting the tone for conversations with health care providers.

  • It can allow “women to think about their pelvic health in a way that doesn’t embarrass them,” Verywell Health chief medical officer and OB / GYN Jessica Shepherd told Axios.
  • Rao de Nurx said that “here we are talking about gonorrhea the same way some people talk about the common cold.”
  • “What we’ve found is that when you start talking about these issues it’s very liberating and that’s when you’re able to provide the best possible care.”

Yes, but: Some topics are still off-limits. Pitchbook wrote last year that Facebook rejected an ad from Lily Bird, a subscription-based startup that offers products against bladder leakage to postmenopausal women, who exclaimed: “Laugh more and flee less.”

  • Language restricted. A 2020 Columbia University Irving Medical Center study found that women who identify as non-heterosexual may not seek preventive sexual and reproductive health care at the same rate as their heterosexual peers because their providers do not use a inclusive language.
  • Inequalities persist. A 2020 study from Indiana University at Bloomington found that black women reported having conversations about their sexual activities (for example, condom use) and were offered tests for diseases sexually transmitted more often than white women.

The bottom line: We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.


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