RALEIGH – In 2022, a long-term study by the Women’s Health Initiative examining the use of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) was cut short after the team determined that “the adverse effects outweigh and outnumber the benefits.” The media jumped on the news and HRT became villanized. Once the most commonly prescribed menopause treatment in the United States, prescriptions plummeted.

“It’s literally like the vaccine and autism all over again. But you know, it’s the Women’s Health version.”

Brittany Barreto, a Raleigh resident, is a women’s health advocate and founder of Femtech Focus and FemHealth Insights.

“[The] study that was done was less corrupt in terms of the vaccine-autism connection,” clarified Barreto. “They saw that connection with breast cancer and other gynecological cancers that weren’t necessarily there. They weren’t bad players, but it was just a lack of understanding of female health and a lack of data.”

Women’s health has often been overlooked or misunderstood. Women display very different symptoms and respond to medicine in very different ways than men, but despite this, the defacto medical training is based on male bodies. As Barreto pointed out, doctors receive, on average, only 4 hours of menopause education throughout their entire medical training. According to a recent New York Time article, 20% of residents have not had a single lecture on the subject of menopause.

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Women’s Health column

Barreto is a busy lady, but she has recently found time to take on a new project. She is now writing a “Tech Talk” column for Healthy Women on the subject of innovations in health care for women. Her first column topic: menopause.

As her column points out, much of the struggles for menopausal women extend beyond the physical symptoms. Depression and anxiety are major concerns for women as they experience the physical and mental changes that come with this transition.

“[We’re] just like teenagers when we get new doses of hormones coming in. We’re emotional teenagers, right? That is what menopause kind of is, but it’s the inverse. It’s the loss of your hormones that you always used to be able to depend on. And unfortunately, it’s not a gradual decline. Sometimes women can still get their period. They won’t have their period for six months thinking ‘okay, I’m really into menopause now’, and then they get their period, so then they have the influx of estrogen, the influx of LH, and progesterone. So it really is kind of that roller coaster.”

Finding a Community

Part of the tragedy of menopause is how little it’s discussed, not only in the medical community but among women.

“People don’t talk about it so they don’t necessarily know what to expect. And then they’re also dealing with the trauma of their body and their brains not working the way that they expect them to,” said Baretto. “It’s the feeling of isolation. ‘I’m different. I’m broken. I’m the weird one’.”

Her menopause column highlights an app that facilitates virtual support groups, encouraging community and providing access to women who have gone through the process.

“[As women,] it’s in our biology to seek community and rely on community. In many cultures, menopausal women getting together is part of the culture, right? They’re seen in some cultures as the wisest humans that should be trusted and leaned on and respected. We don’t do a very good job of that in America.”

FemTech revolution: Co-founder Brittany Barreto of FemTech Focus leads the charge in the Triangle

The menopause column also includes several apps that can be used for finding telehealth support systems and for tracking symptoms in several ways, including via biometric monitoring.

Barreto has many more insights and lots of support to share. A recent Tech Talk column covers at-home diagnostic tools; next month’s column will look at migraine treatments. Her company, FemHealth Insights, is also planning an upcoming release of software to provide data on emerging FemTech start-ups.


FACT BOX – Brittany Barreto


  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine
  • Bachelor’s degree (BA) in Biology; minors in Public Health and French, Drew University


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