As conversations around female empowerment continue to rise, the next women’s health sector to be disrupted is perimenopause. According to data from the North American Menopause Society, by 2025, more than 1 billion women around the world will have experienced perimenopause and be post-menopausal. Yet, perimenopause is often deeply misunderstood and misdiagnosed. Actress Halle Berry recently revealed in a conversation with first lady Jill Biden, that her perimenopause symptoms were initially diagnosed as the worst case of herpes by her doctor.

Enter New York-based wellness startup, Nnabi, a perimenopause (peri) only company on a mission to untaboo perimenopause and make information on this subject accessible. Launched in February 2024, Nnabi currently offer two supplements aimed to enhance the overall wellbeing for perimenopausal women. Its Peri Essential 5™ won the NEXTY Award for "Supplement Trailblazer" in March. We caught up with co-founders EJ Kim and Marina Pen to discuss the gap in perimenopause education and how they aim to help women thrive.

WEB Nnabi peri essential 5

Nnabi is a perimenopause company, why did you decide to focus on this specific life-stage?

Marina: EJ and I started exploring hormonal health and identified a space that we are going through ourselves. We realized there isn’t enough information or education out there on perimenopause and it felt like women were going through this by themselves. That’s when we made the call to focus on perimenopause. It is often the most misunderstood and least discussed phase of a woman's reproductive life although this impacts every single woman.

EJ: Our own research (N=400 women in the United States) revealed that only 27% of American women experiencing symptoms attributed them to perimenopause, with the majority blaming lifestyle factors. This misunderstanding underscores the urgent need for education and specialized support, which is at the core of Nnabi's mission. We want to change how women experience perimenopause so they can stop suffering needlessly and instead, thrive.

Can you describe what perimenopause is?

Marina: Perimenopause can begin around the age of 35 and is the time that comes before menopause. It is marked by the fact that your hormones go from normal fluctuations to very erratic. It is often described as puberty in reverse. When you're coming into puberty, you start seeing fluctuations in hormones and then you get your period. Perimenopause is this in the reverse, where you start having hormonal fluctuations and then at the end of these process (which can last 10 years) your period stops.

Symptoms during perimenopause years includes brain fog, mood swings, severe PMS, dry skin, low libido, and more, which can really impact your quality of life. It is also starting at a time when you could be at the peak of your career, in more senior positions, perhaps running your own business, or you have kids or planning to. There is a lot of pressure that women are dealing with in this time frame, and then you add the stressors of perimenopause, and it can really impact mental health as well as physical health.

WEB Nnabi pattern

How is Nnabi driving conversation and community around perimenopause?

EJ: There are three pillars in the Nnabi setup. The first is tackling the information out there making sure it is backed by credible knowledge. The second is community. Perimenopause is a lonely experience, a lot of the conversations we are having with women say [the experience] feels too private to talk about and worry about encountering ageism and sexism. Even amongst close friends they are not talking about it. The third pillar is how we stand as Nnabi, offering a natural solution that is specifically made for people going through peri, because we felt that the marketplace did not have anything.

A lot of perimenopausal women are asking a lot of questions and not getting a lot of answers. We’re learning that women are trying various things because there isn’t a one solution that fits all. So, I think there’s a combination of trial and error, which is frustrating and can be expensive. This is why community is key. By amplifying voices and stories of perimenopause, we validate these experiences and educate the broader public, transforming perimenopause from a taboo subject into a pivotal health topic that deserves attention and respect.

WEB both supplements Nnabi

Can you tell us about the two supplements you offer?

Marina: Both of our formulations target five key areas of health that address the foundational needs of women in perimenopause —supporting the nervous system, optimizing liver and digestive function, stabilizing blood sugar, boosting immunity, and reducing inflammation. Our Peri Essential 5™ and Peri Essential 5™ CBD supplements contain the same 6 high-quality herbs and adaptogens, for Peri Essential 5™ CBD, we added broad-spectrum CBD to provide an “extra zen” effect for women looking for additional support with sleep, anxiety and mood swings. Our supplements are not just about managing symptoms but enhancing overall wellbeing for perimenopausal women.

EJ: They’re also crafted with the expertise of leading health professionals, including an OBGYN, naturopathic doctor, herbalist, functional medicine doctors and pharmacist, ensuring our formulation is scientifically sound and effective. Their involvement guarantees that our products meet high standards of efficacy and safety, and they are still very much part of our journey.

What are your future ambitions for Nnabi?

EJ: Looking ahead, Nnabi is set to expand its reach and impact. We plan to broaden our product line to address additional aspects of perimenopausal health, intensify our educational efforts, and strengthen our community support platforms. Our goal is to be the leading advocate for perimenopausal health, providing innovative solutions and creating a network of support that empowers women to take charge of their health and thrive. Hopefully it will benefit some of us now. But we're even more excited thinking about the next generation of women entering this.

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