Future of Health: Spotlight on Kindra

Kindra CEO Catherine Balsam-Schwaber shares her journey to destigmatize menopause.
By Christine Choi, Emilee Gu

Last Updated: July 13, 2022

Published: July 13, 2022

Catherine Balsam-Schwaber never thought that one day, she would end up at the doctor’s office, trying to put into words the ache she felt in her body as she went to sleep every night.

At 48, she had just been offered her dream job at a large media company. But she was not feeling well. Every night, she felt uncomfortable and not like herself with symptoms that felt like a fever. The ache and discomfort occurred to her like clockwork. Catherine went to the doctor knowing something was off. She knew her own body but couldn’t quite put her finger on it, and neither could her physician.

“You have fibromyalgia,” said the doctor. He suggested a potent steroid for six months before the next visit. Catherine was puzzled by the diagnosis nor was she ready to start a prescription regimen without enough evidence or data. As Catherine recalls, she “had enough chutzpah” at the time to tell him, “I just don’t think that’s right.”

Listen to the full conversation here

Moderator Brooke Baldwin and Kindra CEO Catherine Balsam-Schwaber discuss what it takes to educate more people on women’s natural aging and how Kindra is solving this problem.

Fast forward to when she met her new OB-GYN (now a key Kindra Medical Advisor) who explained to Catherine, “You're 48 years old. This is perimenopause.”

Catherine was surprised not only at this revelation but that the doctor so quickly and assuredly provided the steroid answer. She had friends of the same age, and yet nobody was talking about menopause. She thought, “I'm too young. I don't have hot flashes. I still get my period. How can this be?”

Menopause is a lot more complicated than hot flashes. Perimenopause is a major physiological shift that has an impact not only on the physical but also emotional self.

Stigmas: women’s health and natural aging

There are many systematic barriers to destigmatizing women’s health. Society expects women to strive to remain youthful, and the emphasis on aging women’s “health” is often on how to maintain a youthful appearance. Ignoring or stigmatizing a natural stage of women’s lives has resulted in little information and education about health, aging, and wellbeing.

Catherine saw an unmet need not only for education and insight but also to bring support and solutions to the millions of women experiencing peri to postmenopause. In March 2020, she launched Kindra knowing that her diverse work experiences across media and politics, paired with the lived experience, would help bring an authentic company to life.

Women are the driving force behind Kindra, inspiring everything from the questions answered by medical advisors to educational live stream topics and solutions they are desperately seeking. The result? Safe, effective, physician-backed, hormone-free solutions targeting top pain points of menopause symptoms so women can find relief and thrive in their current life chapter.

Kindra is now the fastest-growing direct-to-consumer menopause company in the US. Its core focus is to help women have conversations around menopause and deliver support with products that work. Its platform has over 200,000 women including Gloria Steinem and Katie Couric and a growing number of physicians and women’s health experts.

Changing the landscape with humor, facts, and choice

It is an open secret in the industry that having online conversations about women’s health is difficult. “The algorithmic system of Facebook and others is set up to flag things that look like female genitalia,” says Catherine. “So we just keep running ads that have things that look like vaginas.” She shares that Kindra recently posted a popular TikTok featuring men on the street being interviewed about menopause (they don’t know what it is).

While humor helps to lighten the mood and bring an important topic to the forefront, education is the tip of the spear for Kindra. The menopause transition can impact a women’s health and wellbeing for years to come; for example, menopapuse is an independent risk factor for heart disease. Kindra connects the dots across data and research, creating an open multidirectional highway for medical providers, health experts, and the consumer.

Menopause symptoms can vary across a wide spectrum of age as early as 35 into 70+ so not every person needs medical or prescription intervention. Catherine says, “While medical information and access is important, we have to balance with not over medicalizing. This is related to my own story. As we grow, one responsibility is to be incredibly thoughtful about how we deliver this kind of information and care to consumers of all kinds.”

Kindra’s aim is to strike a balance with its community because navigating one’s health with the latest guidelines and protocols is one’s choice. Harnessing the insight and expertise of interdisciplinary women’s health experts and board certified OB/GYNs, Kindra helps women embrace their natural hormonal shifts, offering robust community support for women navigating this critical period of their health journeys.

To learn more about our Future Perfect health fireside and why we invest in the future of health, check out our event roundup blog and health investment thesis.