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Navigating Menopause: Lifestyle Solutions with Dr. Jessica Shepherd, Co-Founder of StellaVia

Dr. Jessica Shepard Everlywell StellaVia

We had the pleasure of chatting with Dr. Jessica Shepherd, an impressive OB/GYN and women's health expert based in Dallas. As the Chief Medical Officer of Verywell Health, Co-founder of Stella Via, and CEO of Sanctum Med + Wellness, she's all about a holistic approach to women's wellness, especially when it comes to navigating menopause. We had a few questions for her that gave us an inside look into the importance of physical, sexual, and emotional health during this life stage. Renowned for her expertise in minimally invasive surgery and menopausal issues, she shares personalized tips for a smooth transition into this phase. And with appearances on big-name platforms like the Today Show, Dr. Oz, CNN, and MSNBC, we were thrilled to sit down with her and get some firsthand insights into menopausal health and StellaVia.

What motivated you to specialize in menopause, and why did you feel there was a lack of understanding and solutions for patients?

I felt drawn to specialize in menopause because I noticed a real lack of understanding and practical solutions for patients in this area. It was disheartening to see so many unanswered questions and unresolved issues among the patients I worked with. Beyond that, there seemed to be a gap in the overall awareness of menopause, stretching beyond just the decrease of estrogen to impact sexual and metabolic health. This realization pushed me to explore the subject more deeply, with the aim of offering comprehensive care and practical solutions for women navigating menopause.

I also couldn't help but notice the shortage of research and accessible tools to aid women during this stage, further fueling my determination to focus on this field. My goal became empowering women with knowledge and guidance during their journey through menopause, ensuring they wouldn't feel isolated or embarrassed about their experiences.

How do you emphasize the importance of seeking help and having conversations about menopause, rather than dealing with it on one's own?

I always highlight the importance of seeking help and fostering open conversations about menopause. It's crucial to acknowledge the often overlooked or unconnected aspects in the experiences of perimenopause and menopause. Seeking guidance from a professional allows women to understand their symptoms within the broader context of menopause.

Additionally, there's significant importance placed on communication and mutual understanding, benefiting both the person navigating menopause and their partner. In fact, engaging in open dialogue enhances comprehension and patience during this significant life phase. Fortunately, today, there is available information, products, and guidance tailored for women transitioning through menopause. This underscores the necessity of actively seeking help and resources to comprehend and navigate menopause rather than attempting to manage it alone. It’s important to note that seeking help and participating in open conversations about menopause facilitates understanding of changes, alleviates symptoms, and reduces feelings of isolation or shame.

As we learn more about menopausal women, we realize they seem to be one of the most misunderstood groups. What are some of the most important and misunderstood things that we as women, and men, need to know about perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause. And why do you think they are so misunderstood?

1. The Severity and Impact: One of the most common misunderstandings is underestimating how disruptive menopause can be to a woman’s quality of life. It involves a significant shift between mind and body, often leading to a disconnect because many women are not given adequate information before entering menopause.

2. Menopause is Not Just About Estrogen: Menopause is more than just a decrease in estrogen. It impacts sexual and metabolic health and can increase risk factors for certain diseases. For instance, a decrease in estrogen can lead to an increase in cholesterol and lipoproteins, impacting heart health.

3. The Symptom Variation: The severity and type of symptoms can vary greatly among women. Some might have intense hot flashes at an early age, while others might not experience them until later. This variability can make it difficult for women to recognize that they are entering menopause.

4. The Impact of Lifestyle: Lifestyle factors, such as diet and exercise, can impact the severity of menopausal symptoms. Western diets and sedentary lifestyles can contribute to more intense vasomotor symptoms, like hot flashes and night sweats.

Dr. Jessica Shepard StellaVia Working out

For women who are nearing the age for perimenopause, and for men who have women in their lives who are nearing that stage, are there any signs that women should be aware of to self-detect whether or not they are entering those menopausal stages?

Like I mentioned earlier, one of the most common misunderstandings about menopause, from my perspective, is the underestimation of its disruptive impact on a person's quality of life. It's crucial to recognize that many women lack sufficient information before entering menopause, leading to unpreparedness for the significant shifts in both their mind and body. Also, the societal taboo surrounding menopause, particularly related to sexual health, has unfortunately hindered open discussions about it. This is why I advocate for open communication, providing women with better tools to express their experiences, and fostering greater societal acceptance. I believe in the importance of increased research into menopause and its effects to dispel misconceptions.

Really, empathy and patience are vital aspects, both from individuals experiencing menopause and their partners. Understanding the challenges of this significant transition and being patient can create a more supportive environment for women going through menopause. It’s necessary to provide women with guidance, products, and information to support them during their transition through it and highlights the need for better resources in healthcare and society to improve the quality of life for women during this phase. To sum it up, promoting open communication, empathy, patience, and enhanced resources collectively contribute to dispelling common misunderstandings about menopause, and this is why I am passionate about my mission.

What are some lifestyle tips you have for women experiencing menopause that may help them lessen or alleviate some of their symptoms?

Promoting optimal health outcomes as we age involves an investment in our well-being. Improving dietary habits, minimizing alcohol intake, and avoiding a processed Western diet can positively impact our overall health. Regular physical activity, even in small doses, minimizes the risk of chronic diseases. I particularly stress the importance of exercise for overall wellness, which is supported by many studies.

Mindfulness, especially through practices like meditation, offers internal regulation amid chaos. Incorporating mindfulness, whether through meditation, yoga, or other methods, contributes to positive health outcomes during menopause.

How was StellaVia born?

The inception of StellaVia was a collaborative venture that was initiated by Carol, the visionary founder, along with myself and Dr. Shirkandi. Carol came from an extensive background in the beauty industry, including roles at major brands like L'Oreal, Keels, Sephora, and Estee Lauder, which helped her conceive the concept of StellaVia. Knowing Dr. Shirkandi professionally, she approached her with the idea, and when Dr. Shirkandi and I, being friends, got involved, we decided to embark on this venture together.

The creation of the brand spanned a year, marked by dedicated efforts to define the brand's identity and formulate a quality product line. In the initial stages, we didn’t even have a name and a clear vision of the final products, but our shared commitment to addressing the needs of women undergoing menopause fueled our journey, and now we’re here.

Despite being busy doctors with conflicting schedules and considerable time and effort invested, the shared vision and camaraderie among us three made the entire process very rewarding. The journey, that was driven by a common purpose, strengthened our resolve to meet the unique needs of underrepresented women navigating through menopause.

StellaVia Carol Dr Shepard

Which product do you personally favor, and what would be your recommendation for someone new to trying Stellavia products?

Choosing a favorite StellaVia product is difficult, but if I had to, I'd lean towards the chocolates–the patches are great too though. For someone new to StellaVia, especially those considering CBD-based products, I recommend trying the Spritz or Gumdrops as a gentle introduction.

StellaVia Products Patches Gummies Chocolate

Thank you for joining us and reading about Dr. Jessica Shepherd's holistic insights into menopausal wellness that provide a refreshing and empowering approach to women's health. We appreciate her time, wealth of knowledge, and StellaVia's impactful product line full of high-quality essentials to help support women on their menopausal journey. Till next time!