To honor all the ways we menopause and to celebrate World Menopause Month, you’ll meet four women who are at various stages of their journey, from peri through to post, and learn about their experiences and top tips and tricks for navigating midlife.
This week, we chatted with the founder and CEO of Joylux Colette Courtion.
Please introduce yourself in whatever way you see fit?
I’m Colette Courtion, the founder and CEO of Joylux. Prior to founding Joylux, my background was in medical aesthetics, working with the latest in energy-based technologies to tone and tighten skin.
When I was pregnant with my son, my friends started to warn me about the changes that my pelvic floor would experience, including incontinence. After learning that, I thought, “Why can’t we create a home-use device to tighten the vaginal canal and restore the health of the vaginal tissue using the same energy-based technologies that we do in facial aesthetics?” So I partnered with a team of engineers, gynecologists, and light scientists and together we created Joylux, a platform of life-changing solutions with high-tech devices, digital tools and products that address menopausal-related health concerns.
Do you remember any person in your life going through menopause before you? What were your impressions?
Some of my friends had experienced menopause before me. I recall them being frustrated that their doctors weren’t always well-versed in menopausal health, and feeling like they had to figure things out on their own. Did you know that medical residents today only receive one or two hours of training on menopause? As a society, we have much more work to do in supporting this normal, natural phase of life—one that half of the population goes through.
How did you know you were in perimenopause?
I realized I was in perimenopause when I started waking up in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat. I soon connected the dots and realized that these were night sweats, which are one of the first signs of perimenopause that many women experience.
How did you feel when this change happened?
I was lucky enough to benefit from the wonderful menopause education that we offer at Joylux, so I felt well-armed with knowledge about the perimenopausal phase and what to expect.
Of course, the uncomfortable physical and emotional changes that come with this transition still affect me, but understanding what I’m going through makes me feel more confident, and more empowered to manage my symptoms.
Have your feelings about menopause over the years changed?
Like many women, when I was younger, I thought menopause was all about hot flashes and it heralds the beginning of old age. As I got older and had the opportunity to talk about this phase with friends, leading Ob-Gyns, and menopause experts, I realized that while hot flashes are one of the most talked-about symptoms, there are actually 34 symptoms of menopause—some of which are rarely discussed. I also discovered that women can (and do!) feel young, vibrant, and confident well beyond menopause.
What’s helped you / how have you gotten support through menopause?
I’m lucky to have a circle of supportive friends who feel like we can talk about anything, from sex and intimacy to peeing your pants. These friends helped guide me during my pregnancy, and we continue support each other as we go through perimenopause together.
The support that I find at Joylux has been invaluable on my journey as well – from the education we provide, to my colleagues who are experiencing the same changes that I’m going through.
What’s something that’s gotten better since perimenopause?
If you feel knowledgeable and well-prepared for it, there’s a certain freedom that menopause can unlock in yourself. I love the self-confidence that growing older has given me, and going through perimenopause has amplified my passion for helping women navigate the changes that come in mid-life.
What’s one thing you’d like to tell pre/ perimenopausal women who are worried about this next phase?
1.3 million women go through menopause every year in the United States. Know that you’re not alone, and menopause isn’t something you should feel embarrassed about. Thanks to advances in science and technology, there are a wide range of medical and wellness solutions that can help you find joy and confidence in this phase of life.
What do we still need to do to move the conversation around menopause forward? What would you like to see happen?
The most important thing is to talk openly about it. The taboos about menopause, vaginal wellness, and sexual health have been holding back progress for too long. Perimenopause and menopause are underrepresented in medical research, in the media, and in fundraising. Making ourselves heard is the first step to finding the solutions that we need.
As a leader in a company, what do you think businesses can do to better support women who are struggling with menopausal symptoms quietly?
The conversation often needs to begin with women in leadership positions experiencing menopause. Not only does speaking up help other women feel like they have a voice, but it also helps to educate those around them. Simple acts like excusing yourself from a meeting during a hot flash or taking a mental health day when you’re feeling overwhelmed can help other women open up about their experiences. It’s estimated that approximately 20% of the US workforce is quietly dealing with their menopausal symptoms, so this is an issue that affects almost every workplace.
Fill in the blank. If there’s one thing I want to take away from menopause, it’s:
Confidence. That is the one thing that we’re most passionate about providing for women as they navigate this journey, and something that I think every woman deserves.
How do you plan on celebrating your #Menoday?
When my Menoday comes, I love the idea of throwing a Menoday party with my girlfriends. While this time in our lives often comes with a variety of symptoms, there are many things to find joy in, too: freedom from periods, more confidence in who we are, and the wisdom that we’ve gained along the way. Those all sound like something to celebrate!