It was a night that WPIX news co-anchor Tamsen Fadal will never forget — Friday, November 8, 2019. At 10:30, the 13-time Emmy winner was doing a live broadcast when she started to feel unusually warm.
Warm quickly turned to hot. And then to nauseous. She could not read the words on the teleprompter. Then she started to panic. She couldn’t breathe. Or concentrate. She was on fire and feared that she was having a heart attack.
Someone pulled her aside and took her to the bathroom. She lay down. About 45 minutes later, it was over. Fadal needed to understand. What was going on?
She soon learned that she’d been experiencing symptoms of menopause, Fadal told an audience at the Propelify Innovation Festival in Hoboken last month.
Fadal and her interviewer Rachel Braun Scherl, a business leader, marketing strategist and innovator in women’s health, were on hand at the fifth annual festival to discuss her fame as a menopause influencer and advocate. And to answer the question posed that day: “Has the Sexual Wellness Movement Climaxed?”
The answer: No, it has not.
“That was the first time, and I never thought that was what I was dealing with. So, I did a deep dive into it. I realized I am not 35 anymore. There are some things happening to my body. I started being honest about myself and other women dealing with symptoms,” Fadal said.
“Women’s health is an overnight sensation [that was] centuries in the making. The size of the opportunity, the importance of finding solutions and the needs have always been there. We are now seeing the fruits of our labor driving change to bring these critical issues to the fore.
“There were a lot of women who were dealing with symptoms. They did not know what to do,” Fadal said, noting that she believed she had an obligation as a journalist to talk openly about it.
That quickly paved the way to her joining a popular TikTok platform that informs women about all things menopause, including hot flashes, anxiety and hormonal changes — all told, the 34 symptoms of menopause.
Her sexual wellness page on Instagram is @tamsenfadal, 50+ menopause advocate. She’s had a great start. One of her first videos went viral, and she now has 167,800 followers.
“I wasn’t breaking news by any stretch. I was ready to talk about it. It demonstrated how interested people were to just get the information,” said Fadal. “I have been on television for 30 years and not once did I say the word menopause. I didn’t know what perimenopause was.”
The reasons for the growth: It’s about momentum, she pointed out. “One of the reasons we are having momentum is because there are a lot of people in [the field], whether it’s from the investor side or whether it is from an entrepreneur side, whether it’s people who are in that stage of life.
“Lots of companies now have celebrities, like Naomi Watts, who are entering menopause. And like many other people, find themselves totally unprepared.”
She continued, “I think things have definitely changed. We are 50 percent of the population and we have a lot of economic power growing every day. Women in menopause are at their peak in terms of their ability to contribute to organizations, their families and philanthropies they are part of.”
Braun Scherl agreed. “The size of the prize and the challenges have always merited attention, but are now finally having their day,” she said, adding that “1.1 billion women will be in menopause by 2025, and we still hear that that is a niche — half of the world’s population. And 43 percent of women have sexual concerns and difficulties at some part of their lives, compared to the 30 percent of men who suffer from ED [erectile dysfunction], but ED is a dramatically larger and better developed market. Ten percent of women have never experienced an orgasm. One-third of women will suffer from incontinence.
“We control the majority of the household money and medical decision-making and are now exercising our power,” Braun Scherl continued. “I’m excited to be able to talk about different things. I think in the media now, we’re talking with people, and we are able to assess what people want to hear. I’m excited about that.”
According to Fadal, women have economic power. “About 80 percent to 90 percent of the decisions in the household are made by women” and that includes health care. “We are the decision-makers in the home. We have the money. And all the conditions we deal with are enormous.”