Nathalie Bonafé, PhD is a holistic menopause coach. She is a biochemist and molecular biologist with 25 years’ experience in biomedical research. Nathalie offers customized education for women to navigate and thrive in times of change, vulnerability, with self-care, self-love and self-determination. She helps fill the gaps in care, supports women understand the change, advocate for themselves, and thrive for the rest of their lives. Nathalie is also an experienced Elder care and end-of-life doula. She believes that each of us has the right to know about options and possibilities as we age — and that this starts at midlife. Focusing on your values, Nathalie gives you the tools and courage to embrace your fears of change, find peace within, and achieve inner freedom so you can create new choices for yourself.
Far from being a narrowly-trained specialist, Dr. Bonafé prides herself on being a generalist – the glue or catalyst that brings and holds all possible support systems together for her clients.
Nathalie was born and raised in France. She was 26 years old when she arrived in the United States for her post-doctoral fellowship as a Fogarty International research fellow at the National Institutes of Health. In 1998, she moved to New Haven, Connecticut, that has become her home. Before starting her own enterprise as a women’s health advocate, she worked with several interdisciplinary research groups first at the Yale School of Medicine, then in the Biotech industry.
When and why did you start working in women’s health?
I feel I have been working in women’s health from a young age. My research training in biological sciences, biochemistry, and in biology and health in France made me aware of the amazing power of the human body. My thesis was on muscle contraction. But it’s probably not before I started working on breast and ovarian cancer research at Yale School of Medicine in the OB/GYN department that I became aware of the specific health challenges women were encountering. I was in my early 30s, my mentor was a female surgeon in her late 40s, operating daily on women with gynecological cancer; friends of mine were having babies; I just had an abortion; I was having marital difficulties that eventually lead to a divorce; young colleagues of mine had been diagnosed with ovarian or breast cancer or even bipolar disorder; I was exposed daily to research on infertility and endometriosis through discussions with colleagues in labs down the corridor from me; it also coincided with my niece being diagnosed with thyroid cancer at the age of 18. So the change was gradual but inescapable, really.
What are the three most valuable lessons you’ve learned in the process?
- Every woman is unique
- The human body is a very complex system, a very complex system of interacting subsystems.
- A holistic approach is key to any recovery from any disorder. The way the body works, is that an unbalance in one tissue or organ affects the entire balance (homeostasis) of the person.
Where do you see femtech technology going in the years to come?
Femtech is starting to address women’s biological/health needs. If we look at venture capital investments, it’s still in its infancy. But it’s actually steadily expanding, breaking so many taboos on the way. From menstruation tracking helping with fertility control, to silent wearable breast pumps, sexual wellness, kegel-tracking devices, to temperature-regulating wearables that help monitor changes during the surgical process, the potential is colossal. While I am still reasonably skeptical about the current precision of some devices to predict ovulation as a birth control method, I am extremely optimistic when it comes to technology that targets wellness, such as the Zone, the smart personal thermostat providing heating and cooling sensations initially designed for women (and men) suffering from debilitating hot flashes. The market is huge, and the need is tremendous.
Of the work that you do, what aspect matters most to you?
I thrive to provide individualized support at menopause transition, i.e. combination of approaches, because there is no one-size-fits-all approach to Menopause. Every person is unique and no two women are alike.
Favorite anecdote from your work so far?
I had been preparing a party for the day I reach Menopause, being the day after going 12 months without a menstrual period. I shared my excitement about planning the event with a client to inspire her. A few days later I had my period, which meant I had to postpone my party at least one more year!
In your opinion, what do women need/want to cope with and/or navigate their health/menopausal journey?
I believe that every woman over 40 needs individualized support to develop full awareness of their own bodies, anticipate physiological and emotional changes and learn to communicate their needs to better advocate for themselves.
What are the three things folks in the Zen Zone should read, watch, or do for their own comfort this week?
Read “The estrogen question” by Dr Sandra Rice.
Start lifting weights under supervision.
What are your thoughts on the potential impact of the Zone on folks experiencing thermal discomfort?
I think the Thermaband wearable has enormous potential to help millions of women at menopause and men who undergoing prostate cancer hormone therapy, who suffer from debilitating hot flashes/night sweats sometimes for years, despite other therapeutic approaches (such as HRT for women). I can’t wait to give it a try myself.
Likewise, in my opinion, the potential of femtech technology goes beyond the control of symptoms, or information gathering. It has the potential to bring more awareness, increase self-worth, self-compassion to those who have been suffering in silence for too long, to women in general who have historically not been taken seriously, to people in situation of vulnerability, who can take control of their lives, and live more fully. It is time women invest in themselves, in their wellness, in their quality of life, and believe in their worth. I trust this has the potential to influence generations of women to come. And it’s just the beginning.