The menopause is something every woman has to tackle – with hot flushes and mood swings galore it’s never a pleasant experience.
As the trend towards a longer and healthier lifespan continues, women are increasingly spending up to half their years in the post-menopausal phase of life.
A recent survey revealed over three quarters of women felt unprepared for the menopause and the affect it had on their confidence levels.
Forty six per cent of women claimed the menopause impacted on their confidence levels.
Menopause: The symptoms of menopause can cause a woman to lose confidence
A whopping 54 per cent women even went as far as to say low confidence can affect their whole day, leaving them in a bad mood which they struggle to shake.
Dr Sarah Brewer, Medical Director of Healthspan Nurture Replenish, the hair and skincare brand who commissioned the research said: “Weight gain, skin and hair changes coupled with hot flushes tend to come all at once for many women and this can knock our confidence and leave us feeling self-conscious and unattractive.
“Oestrogen levels start to fall for most women during their forties as we head into perimenopause which results in many of the symptoms that impact on confidence.
“Menopause is no longer a taboo subject and there are a number of specifically developed products to help women tackle the effects of what happens when oestrogen levels take a dive such as Nurture Replenish that contains natural plant phytoestrogens to help replenish what is naturally lost as hormone levels decline.”
Dr Megan Arroll, a psychologist and co-author of ‘The Menopause Maze’ added: “This survey highlights how appearance can impact confidence but we also know that confidence can influence how we feel about ourselves.
“When we feel more self-assured, we’re more likely to engage in self-care activities which can directly affect our appearance (i.e. taking good care of our teeth, skin and hair), which then acts as a loop as we feel our best and most confident. Hence, boosting confidence from within is a powerful tool for long term health – on the inside and out.’
“With regard to the menopause, research has shown women who feel more satisfied with their appearance report fewer menopausal symptoms.
“The key here appears to be self-esteem and confidence as the researchers took into account the women’s hormone levels. Therefore, in this study at least, feeling good about oneself actually made experiencing menopausal symptoms less likely.
“This is why self-care is so important – so do whatever makes you feel good, whether it is using a new shampoo that brings the shine back to your crowning glory or a high-quality moisturiser to refresh the skin.”
Menopause: Many women suffer from hot flashes during the menopause
Ten ways to rebuild your confidence during the menopause
1. Take action, create a plan and do some research
2. Consultant gynaecologist Tania Adib from The Medical Chambers Kensington in London says, As a first line of treatment giving back oestrogen – in the form of HRT. Talk it over with your GP. Alternatively, increase plant oestrogens in your diet (like alfalfa sprouts, tofu, chickpeas, sesame and pumpkin seeds and soy).
3. Make a decision to stop comparing yourself to your younger self
4. Rob Hobson, Healthspan Head of Nutrition said: “Weight gain came out as one of the top reasons why women struggle with the menopause middle as it’s referred to so now is the time to tackle weight gain before it becomes a problem.
“Find a plan that works for you and try to eat a Mediterranean style diet including plenty of plant-based foods like fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, pulses, olive oil and some fish and lean meat. Researchers suggest the high fibre in the diet can help stabilise oestrogen levels.”
5. Find products that have been designed specifically to take care of your hair and skin as it goes through hormonal changes such as the Healthspan Nurture Replenish range that has plant oestrogens and has been formulated specifically for menopausal hair and skin.
Menopause: Many women take HRT pills to put off the effects of the menopause
6. Nicola Addison, Personal Trainer and co-author of a new book Cheats & Eats says: “Keeping fit and maintaining good health can significantly improve your mood & health. Exercise also boosts levels of the potent brain chemicals serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine – which often help buffer some of the effects of stress & anxiety linked with menopause.”
7. GP and Medical Nutritionist Dr Sarah Brewer (drsarahbrewer.com): ‘Many find the emotional symptoms more difficult to manage than the physical ones. Black Cohosh and Sage leaf extract can help.
“Studies also show that regularly eating omega-3 rich foods like oily fish and seeds can regulate hormone production and ease depression and anxiety. B vitamins help support your nervous system to improve mood. Try Healthspan Opti-Omega 3, £12.95 and Vitamin B Complex, £8.95.
8. There are plenty of apps and free relaxation websites out there that can help tackle chronic and acute stress and research shows relaxation techniques may modify the experience of hot flashes and other common symptoms of the menopause.
Dr Arroll said: “We can influence our physical health via psychological means, such as relaxation, stress reduction techniques and with ‘talking’ therapies such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – a way of substituting unhelpful thought patterns with more positive ones) that may help.”
9. See if you can juggle your work hours. Dr Claire Hardy who is leading a research study at King’s College London in collaboration with the University of Nottingham is looking at ways to improve menopause for working women suggests the possibility of more flexible working: “The woman might have been having trouble sleeping so having a later start to work might be feasible for some women, or just to miss the rush hour.”
Talk to your boss or your HR department.
10. Do resist the wine’oclock. A 2017 YouGov survey found 28 per cent of women over 45 drank as much or more than their grown-up children.
Alcohol can temporarily help ease stress or anxiety at the end of the day but it is likely to disrupt your sleep and it is also a depressant and may exacerbate both the physical and psychological symptoms triggered by perimenopause and menopause.