Chia Chia Sun, Founder & CEO of Damiva Inc., a brand of women’s wellness products aimed at breaking the taboos around talking about menopause, spoke at our What Mama Didn’t Tell Us event in Toronto last November. Recently, we caught up with Chia Chia to learn more about what happens as our bodies age, and the innovative Canadian company she founded.
PF: I’m going to come right out and ask… How do our bodies change as we age?
First, our body fat composition and distribution changes. As we age, fat starts to accumulate around the middle and hips due to depletion of hormones as our ovaries begin to shut down in peri-menopause.
You see, abdominal fat is a great receptor for hormones such as estrogen. As our ovaries age and begin to shut down, the body’s natural response is to build abdominal fat that can store estrogen. The “menopausal midriff” is a common issue for women over 40 (and also for men I might add).
PF: What about wrinkles? Can we get wrinkles on our intimate parts?
Just like we get wrinkles on our face, our mucous membranes (mouth, gut and vagina) are also “drying out” or losing moisture. Yes, our vaginas are aging too. All women will experience vaginal dryness after menopause – some to a greater degree than others – and, just like our wrinkles worsen, so will our vaginal tract.
This was the reason we developed Mae; it helps to combat vaginal dryness with an all-natural insertable ovule.
PF: We often focus on the physical affects of hormonal changes, but not so much the mental or emotional. How do hormonal changes at 35, 45 and 55 change how we feel?
Age 35: Between ages 20 and 35 is generally a very nurturing time for women, except for women who are postpartum. Women who are postpartum typically experience some of the symptoms of menopause, e.g. depression, mood instability and vaginal dryness. This is due to the extreme drop in progesterone (the nurturing hormone), which is built up during pregnancy and then goes back to normal (or below normal) after birth.
Age 45: Women will start to experience changes that they may not have had since adolescence. These include acne, pre-menstrual syndrome, hormonal headaches and psychological symptoms. One in three women, never diagnosed with depression, are at risk for depression between the ages of 40 and 50! The primary reason for the negative mood changes is the loss of progesterone, the nurturing hormone.
Age 55: Menopause typically starts at age 50 so by age 55, many women will have experienced the worst of the transition and achieved some equilibrium. The hormone fluxes are not nearly as severe but the new reality is that many women will experience “flatness” due to a constant level of low “female” hormones. It’s kind of ironic because we deal with our monthly hormonal changes for so long, and then we have to deal with not having them!
PF: Why is it important to use all natural products in and on our vaginas?
The use of chemically-laden products can disrupt hormones. For any woman who cares about what she’s using on her body, the use of 100% natural products for vaginal moisture is important. It’s crucial though that women read labels carefully as I see a lot of products labeled as “natural” that have terrible ingredients in them. They might contain a few natural ingredients but these “disguise” the chemical preservatives listed in fine print.
PF: What are you most excited about for the future of Damiva, and what kind of impact will your products have on the lives of women?
We are rapidly becoming the company that solves menopausal problems. We have a second product, Cleo by Damiva, a labial moisturizer, which has just launched, and we also have created an incredible content database that we will share with women soon so that they can have vital information at their fingertips. I myself am very privileged that when I am experiencing a certain symptom of menopause, I have all these products and information at my disposal. I want all women to have the same level of support that I do.
About Chia Chia
Chia Chia Sun is a pharmaceutical executive turned women’s health entrepreneur. As CEO of Damiva Inc., a women’s health company developing innovative natural products for women 40+, she has dedicated her career to making the last 40 years of a woman’s life happier than the first. Chia Chia has worked as a C-level executive for life sciences companies based in the U.S., U.K., and Canada. In her spare time, she loves to get teased by her teenagers, knit and cook for her partner, and read about taboo-breaking companies.