Women’s History Month may be coming to a close, but women’s health remains one of the lead topics in the news.

To that point, the Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in a case that could decide the fate of mifepristone, the widely-used abortion pill, in one of the most impactful cases of the post-Roe era. This comes shortly after President Biden signed an executive order to advance women’s health studies and shine a light on necessary research in this space. Additionally, several health brands have launched marketing initiatives challenging the stigmatization around menopause and female sexual wellness

Recognizing the increased focus on women’s health and the need for authoritative voices, Dr. Jennifer Ashton, the chief health and medical correspondent for ABC News, is publishing a free weekly newsletter. The first issue of Ajenda will be delivered on Wednesday and feature Ashton’s insights on menopause and weight management.

Ahead of the launch, MM+M caught up with Ashton to discuss her venture into the world of newsletters, the importance of prioritizing women’s health and shortfalls in HCP/patient communications. This interview has been edited lightly for length and clarity.

MM+M: Given that you already have a sizable platform on ABC and a magazine, why launch a newsletter? 

Ashton: Over the course of my career, people have told me that I’m their go-to resource for information and they appreciate my straight up advice that separates fact from opinion. Because of this, it feels like the natural next step to leverage my experience and credentials into a personalized newsletter that speaks to and educates women. 

Also, I feel that there is often a detached or removed feeling when watching television or reading a magazine, because it is more unidirectional in nature. Someone needs to pick up the magazine or turn on TV to connect with the content or messenger. With newsletters, it comes to you; all you need to do is sign up, so to me it feels more like a two-way street. 

Lastly, the cadence of newsletters is such that it can be both proactive and reactive, in terms of the content it provides. News television is generally more reactive (what is happening now) and my magazine is more proactive (due to the longer lead time in print), but a newsletter is somewhere in the middle. That’s exciting and interesting to me.

What newsletters do you read or take inspiration from? 

I love Headlines by Abe Burns and Robyn Arzon’s newsletter, but what I used as my inspiration was the mantra of authenticity. I want Ajenda to be an extension of me, so I went with what I thought made sense in terms of my style of communication. 

What are the biggest misconceptions surrounding menopause and weight management? 

For starters, menopause is often seen as a negative, when it’s a natural part of life that presents so many opportunities. I want women to feel empowered to handle this next phase and hope Ajenda will remove the stigma and shame that sadly comes along with it. 

I also often see nutritionists helping women with their diets and gynecologists helping women with their hormones, but it’s siloed and uncoordinated. With Ajenda, I want to holistically address both so women are receiving a proper science-backed “prescription” that helps with perimenopause, menopause and weight management at the same time. 

Are there plans to expand the newsletter’s scope beyond menopause and weight management?

While there are so many issues affecting women, menopause and weight management are arguably two of the biggest health topics in the U.S. today. Given my experience and credentials, these are the areas the Ajenda newsletter will focus on. 

However, if I start seeing women inquiring about other issues, I will certainly weigh in and consider expanding the variety of topics to focus on. We also have plans to expand Ajenda beyond a newsletter, into television production and development in the women’s health and wellness space, so stay tuned for upcoming announcements later this year.  

From your experience, where is there room for improvement in HCP/patient communications? 

Unfortunately, insurance constraints on HCPs limit the time that they can spend with patients and this has negative effects on both the patient and the provider. Also, I’ve learned in the last 20 years that merely having access to information is not enough to transform someone’s health. There is no shortage of information out there today. 

But as the saying goes, “Sometimes the messenger is as important as the message.” I feel strongly that having the right person to help women interpret that information, and understand how it affects them personally, is the game-changer. Unfortunately, this is elusive today across all socioeconomic groups. I want to change that. I want to help women learn how to think like a doctor and Ajenda is the first step in that mission.