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Women’s telehealth startup Alloy turns up the heat on men to bring attention to menopause symptoms

In her 2019 Netflix standup special “Not Normal,” comedian Wanda Sykes jokes that if men got hot flashes, “they would blow the sun up.”

“There’s no way in the world men would put up with hot flashes,” Sykes muses. “No way in the world.”

Newly launched women’s telehealth and prescription delivery service Alloy Women’s Health puts that theory to the test, candid camera style, in a video that literally puts men in the hot seat while pondering the question: “What if hot flashes happened to men?”

Alloy lets viewers in on the prank, with text on the screen saying it invited 10 men between 45 and 55 years old to audition for a commercial. The video then shows each of the unsuspecting men walking into an empty room and taking a seat on a wooden stool. The text on the screen tells the viewer the men were asked to wait a few minutes while their auditioners set up.

While they’re waiting, the thermostat is cranked up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, simulating the sudden blast of heat women in menopause feel when they’re getting a hot flash, and the men begin to fan themselves and fiddle with their clothes. One rolls up his sleeves, while another is shown unraveling a scarf around his neck. As time ticks on, the men clearly are feeling more distressed, a few of them sighing heavily and dabbing at their sweaty foreheads.

“Unbelievable,” one mutters as the video returns to a blank screen with the message: “You think hot flashes would still go untreated if they happened to men?”

Alloy worked with creative agency The We Collective on a 60-second spot that debuted on YouTube and Alloy’s social media accounts this month. It aims to get people talking openly about menopause and the hot flashes 80% of menopausal women experience, sometimes for a decade of their lives or longer, Alloy co-founder and co-CEO Anne Fulenwider said in an interview.

“We just really wanted to get the story out there in a big, bold, unapologetic way that is lighthearted and also educates people,” she said. “There’s this idea that women are used to grinning and bearing it and suffering with it, and men would never stand for this.”

Describing itself as “health empowerment for women over 40,” Alloy is part telehealth, part prescription home-delivery service and part online community. Women can go to its website and fill out a medical intake form that is reviewed by a menopause-trained doctor and, if they qualify for medication, can receive generic hormonal treatments like estradiol delivered to their home through an online pharmacy.

Fulenwider, the former longtime editor-in-chief of women’s magazine Marie Claire, launched the startup with her best friend and New York City entrepreneur Monica Molenaar last fall because they felt too many women in menopause haven’t been able to get treatment for their symptoms.

The company points to a Yale study that found 75% of women who seek treatment for menopausal symptoms leave their doctor’s office untreated, while 80% of gynecologists in a separate Johns Hopkins study self-reported that they lack the training to treat these women.

“So many women my age just don’t know what the best treatment is. There’s so much confusion,” said Fulenwider. “We wanted to do a bold changing of the conversation, and this is the beginning of it. We plan to do much more.”