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As a menopause care specialist here in one community in the Midwest, I thought for a while I was on a lonely path. One of the benefits of my decade leading MiddlesexMD is that I know I’m far from alone. Every week, it seems, I meet another woman who’s starting a company to help other women to understand and maintain their sexual health. A few of them are physicians, like me. Others are women—must I confess younger women?—who have watched their mothers caught off guard by symptoms of menopause; they’ve flexed their entrepreneurial muscles to find solutions for their family members and the broader community of us.
Recently, I received a gift from one of those start-up companies: Tabu. The founder, Natalie Waltz, was raised by a Middle Eastern Muslim woman who, affected by cultural taboos, didn’t talk about sex. Ever. Until Natalie’s thirtieth birthday, when they happened to have a conversation about the sexual effects of menopause. Caught off guard, Natalie checked in with other family members and friends of friends. The common ground? Women were hungry to talk about their experiences. They felt let down by doctors, who didn’t provide enough information before or after menopause. They felt shame and embarrassment with their partners, who also lacked the information to navigate “the change.”
Natalie learned the same thing that led me to launch MiddlesexMD a decade ago: Doctors agree that products like vibrators and lubricants will help women (with or without partners) stay sexually active, at a time when “use it or lose it” is a real thing. And yet… especially for women who’ve never said “vibrator” out loud, those products are difficult to search out and buy.
That gift I received in the mail? It was Tabu’s first product offering: a kit that includes a lightweight, discreet vibrator (with optional heat to stimulate blood flow), an organic lubricant, and educational content designed to help women in perimenopause or postmenopause to begin and maintain a sexual wellness routine. If you’d like to check it out, Tabu is offering MiddlesexMD readers a 10-percent discount with the code DRBARB. The packaging is lovely, I can say from experience, and the motivating information—that we need sexual wellness routines—is right on track. Consider sending a kit to your mom, aunt, sister, or a friend.
Because we are all, as we age, on this path. And the more we talk about it, the less alone each of us will believe herself to be.
Dr. Barb DePree, M.D., has been a gynecologist and women’s health provider for almost 30 years and a menopause care specialist for the past ten.