Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz Burns With Cool Fire
She's a gynecologist and integrative medicine physician known for illuminating the menopausal transition
Hello, Dr. Suzanne, and welcome to the Womancake interview! How is your workday going so far?
Insane, but good. The sun is shining, I'm working from home.
You're located in LA, correct?
I am in LA.
You are a board-certified gynecologist, and you are an integrative medicine physician. You are a regular on the Drew Barrymore show, and you're universally respected across your field. As a menopause specialist, when you look at the whole Menoverse right now, what are you most concerned about, and what are you most inspired by?
What I'm most concerned about is I think that [for] many of us who are in this space, it can be a little bit of an echo chamber, and I want to make sure that we are not forgetting that there are still a huge number of people who are not getting access to good information or to care. I mean, I think those of us who are both actually seeing patients clinically, and involved in sort of social media influencer stuff, I think we are aware of that, in general. But I think it's easy also to think Oh, everybody's talking about it now, [so therefore] everybody has access. And that's really not accurate.
This sort of leads to something that I think is a positive thing that I'm inspired by. I think that the telehealth organizations, look, they can only do so much, but they are doing a decent job of filling in the gaps. Now, here's the bigger problem and the thing that I'm more concerned about, and it's actually turning out to be one of my big focuses going forward: women who look like me and you are going to get what they need. We always do. And I've been involved in a lot of events that serve women that look a lot like you and me, educated middle-class and white. There are a lot of other women out there who are not getting served, either who don't have access, who don't have insurance, who are living below the poverty line who are working multiple jobs, who are women of color, who have a different experience, both with menopause, and just in the world.
I think that as things get more and more monetized, a lot of these people aren't gonna get served, because it's not going to make other people money. So that's a really big problem. I do think there are a lot of people in this space who are trying to address that, and who do understand that. I can go on and on and on where I feel the gaps are, [for example] we don't have enough research dollars devoted to it. We don't have enough people practicing menopause medicine. But what people don't really understand is, it's not just an education gap. It's an it's an insurer gaps, because if the Centers for Medicare services, they set the rates for the insurance companies, if they don't move toward what's called “values-based care”, and compensation, you [the] Menopause Society can pump out 5 million new grads from their certification program, and [graduates] are all going to go into cash-only practices. So having policy directives aimed at changing the much bigger system of how we deliver health care in this country [has] to happen if we really want to see a shift, or we're just going to be doing the same thing.
The intersectionality of it all is a big unaddressed issue, thank you for bringing that up. I have a question for you from the Womancake community. Some have noticed that they are experiencing a spike in mental-health challenges that have, up until now, been manageable, things like intermittent anxiety and seasonal depression. But here in midlife, there really seems to be quite a spike in symptoms. Everyone is very confused about whether or not that is something that HRT can actually help with, or if they should be seeking other kinds of medication, or other kinds of remedies or resources. Do you have any advice about that?