If Stacy London’s face looks familiar to you, then you might have been a fan of TLC in the early aughts, when her hit show, What Not to Wear, debuted on the popular network. When it wrapped after 10 seasons, the star stylist took some time to prioritize her health, including undergoing spine surgery to address chronic back pain. Fast-forward a few years, and London is now the CEO of a company that aims to take on what she calls a “crisis” in healthcare. Read on to find out what she told Best Life about her mission—and why many people are suffering “for no reason.”
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The years after What Not to Wear ended weren’t easy for London: After her back surgery in 2016, she dealt with depression and financial troubles. Then in 2018, her father died after a months-long illness during which “I was in the hospital every other day,” as she told People. At the same time, she was suffering from night sweats, mood swings, and forgetfulness so severe that she wondered if she was developing early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
In fact, she was in perimenopause—the period of time leading up to menopause, which is defined as the cessation of your menstrual period for a full year.
“It never occurred to me that what was happening … had a reason,” London told Best Life. “Menopausal symptoms are so disconnected that if you don’t understand what’s happening, you could dismiss any one symptom as being something else. You’re tired, or you’re anxious because you’re up for a new job … There are so many things that you wouldn’t automatically tie to menopause.”
The experience led London to take on a new venture as the CEO of State of Menopause, a company dedicated to helping people “feel their best during menopause.”
The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) “only recognizes two medical symptoms of menopause: hot flashes and vaginal dryness,” London says. “There are 34 common symptoms of menopause that the FDA is ignoring.” These include headaches, burning mouth, fatigue, joint pain, trouble sleeping, thinning hair, weight gain, overactive bladder, brain fog, and anxiety.
“I mean, let’s just start with those,” she says. “That’s enough to make somebody feel unhinged. When you have anxiety that shoots through the roof, you have depression and rage. It’s like you become a version of yourself that is completely foreign to you.”
A survey commissioned by State of Menopause found that a whopping 73 percent of women aren’t treating their menopause symptoms—something London aims to change through her work. “Seventy-three percent of women not treating their issues in menopause is really a combination of ignorance and embarrassment,” she tells Best Life.
“We don’t have enough conversations about this. We haven’t normalized the conversation, which to me is very different from destigmatizing it,” London explains. “Normalizing it is about encouraging people to speak with their significant other, their doctor, their family, and their friends in a way that allows for a support system.”
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One of the things that can help ease the many symptoms of menopause is hormone replacement therapy (HRT)—but many people have been scared away from HRT, says London. (Some studies have found a possible link between HRT and certain cancers.) “I think that women have been white-knuckling for years because hormones have been vilified since the 90s, when in fact, it’s a very small percent of the population who can’t take them,” she notes. “Why we make women suffer for no reason is insane. To me, it’s appalling.”
State of Menopause offers a plethora of products designed to help people deal with their menopause symptoms. “If you can’t take hormones, if you don’t want to take hormones, or if you cannot afford hormones … what are your options?” London asks. “We need things that are affordable and effective.”
“There’s a much bigger conversation here than just menopause,” London tells Best Life. “I see menopause as a crisis of confidence.” And that’s where her current venture dovetails with her past as a stylist. “I’m not known for being in wellness,” she admits. “I’m known for being a stylist, but … I was never concerned about the clothes. It was about, what what can the clothes do? [It] was always an enterprise in self-awareness and self-esteem and self-love.”
London says she’s frustrated by the perception that women aren’t of value once their fertile years are over. “Women are not baby farms—that’s not our sole purpose,” she says. “We value youth because we’re fertile. That’s that’s how we further the progression of the human race. But societally, culturally, women over 40 aren’t making substantial contributions to our society? That’s ridiculous! Of course we are.”
With State of Menopause, London is helping to shift the narrative around middle age and menopause. “We need to reassess [middle age] as being a huge opportunity,” she says. “The middle is the best part of the book, it’s the best part of the plot. It’s when you get a plot twist!”
If you’re experiencing any of the 34 symptoms of menopause, you should speak with your doctor about your options—and check out State of Menopause’s line of products that are designed to help with everything from breast tenderness to painful sex.