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#TabooSmasher Spotlight: Katie Fogarty

Katie Fogarty is the host of A Certain Age – a podcast that shares the smarts and sparkle of women aged 40, 50, 60, and beyond. Through her podcast, she celebrates women who are aging out loud and shines an age-positive spotlight on midlife. A former journalist turned career coach, Katie’s day job running the career branding company The Reboot Group has taught her that many of us struggle with truly owning our age. 

Where are you in your hormonal health journey? Is there anything you wish you’d known about menopause before you began your journey?

I am post-menopause. I wish I had known that menopause has 34 symptoms that go waaay beyond that show-boating symptom–the hot flash. Hot flashes have an excellent PR agent! They are practically synonymous with menopause. Since I never had a hot flash, I thought I was sailing through menopause…that is until I got sidelined by persistent 3am wakeups and what doctors call “mood instability,” but what actually felt more like volcanic bouts of rage. It finally dawned on me–maybe this is my hot flash?!?

Menopause can be seen as a rite of passage and a communal female experience. What wisdom or advice would you like to share with other women who are entering or about to enter menopause?

You need a menopause support team. Find yourself doctors who get it. And find doctors early–perimenopause can begin in your mid-30s (and continue into your mid-50s).

Menopause touches every aspect of your life – your body, your brain, your sleep, your mood, your sex life (hello dry vagina!). You can and should be working with supportive doctors who are up to date on the latest science and treatments.

Not all doctors are equal; many receive next to no training on menopause. So, look for a certified menopause specialist. If you are working with a doctor who shrugs away your menopausal symptoms as simply an inevitable by-product of aging, find yourself a new doctor. Full stop.

And lean on your friends (or find new communities like Elektra Health or Revel) for support and information. Talking to other women not only makes you feel less alone but also helps surface new products, tools, or ideas to help you navigate this life stage.

Have you made any major changes to your wellness or beauty routine at any point in your menopause journey?

Absolutely! I shook up–or transformed–many of my health and wellness routines with the advice from doctor guests on my podcast,  A Certain Age. My new priorities include smarter nutrition, supplements, and better sleep hygiene (early bedtime and less wine) to help stabilize hormonal swings and clock better ZZZs. Other sleep fixes include blue light reading glasses before bed and daily movement (ideally in the sun to set healthy circadian rhythms). Dermatologists explained to me how the loss of estrogen affects skin moisture, plumpness, and cellular turnover, so I’ve added bakuchiol (a natural retinoid) and hydrating hyaluronic acid lotions and serums to my evening skincare routine.

Since the dry vagina symptom is real (and fixable!) I now use vaginal lotions, alternating between an estrogen cream and one with hydrating botanicals. My friends joke about how often I say “dry vagina” on the podcast, but if I save even one woman from dry vag, I am happy. I also want to thank A Certain Age guest Tracey Cox, author of Great Sex After 50: How to Age-Proof Your Libido and Transform Your Sex Life,  for coming on the show and stating that no woman over 50 should have sex without a lubricant. I additionally use the Honor Every Day Balm by Rosebud Woman, whose founder was another podcast guest. All Rosebud products are plant-based, organic, and work like gangbusters–the first time I used the balm, my husband was like, “what is this magical substance?”

On your podcast, you interview inspiring women, many of whom are in their second or third act in their career and life. Is there any one guest who really stood out to you or helped change your perspective on aging?

Oooh, this is hard! Each week, I am endlessly inspired by my guests who see midlife as an accelerant and not an ending. I’ve featured a researcher about love who married at the age of 73, a stay-at-home mom who launched a multi-million dollar events company at 47, a lawyer who quit her job to publish a NYT bestseller at age 50.

But one early guest said something that has stuck with me. Author Karen Dukess credits midlife confidence as a springboard for publishing her first novel, The Last Book Party, at 56. She told me, “You get to midlife and you don’t need permission. You can just do it because you want to do it.”

I adore this notion and have taken it on as a mantra: getting to midlife means YOU get to give yourself permission.

You talk about a “midlife bloom” instead of a “midlife crisis.” How can we encourage this paradigm shift on a larger scale?

Pop culture gets midlife wrong. Midlife is wildly liberating. We are comfortable in our skin, confident in our choices, and excited about what’s next. I see midlife women as being gorgeously in bloom – as experts, advocates, second-acts, and what’s-nexters, and I want them to see themselves that way too.

To shift the conversation around aging, we first need to be IN conversation around aging. I deeply believe that we can and should be able to “age out loud.” Normalize telling people your age. Normalize having years of experience. Normalize leaving the dates of your college graduation on your resume and LinkedIn. Normalize hiring (and retaining) a multi-generational workforce.

What else? Seek out the stories, the voices, the people, the platforms that support aging out loud. Embrace companies and brands that are age positive and don’t peddle products and messaging designed to make you feel diminished as you age.

Our power lies in numbers–let’s age out loud together.