4 tips to get through menopause and why you shouldn’t suffer in silence
This World Menopause Day, Vitality is opening up the conversation and exploring four small ways to support the journey
The rise in nationwide surveys, documentaries, celebrity-led podcasts is finally giving perimenopause and menopause the public attention it deserves.
But with 2.2 million British women perimenopausal and over a third not knowing what it is, according to Wild Nutrition’s report, the conversation can’t start soon enough.
Kathy Abernethy, founding Clinician and Menopause specialist at Vitality partner Peppy – an employee healthcare platform that supports those on their menopause journey – emphasises the importance of balance when women are going through this phase of their life.
“Making healthy lifestyle choices can definitely improve your experience with menopause,” she tells Vitality Magazine. “Eating well, exercising and looking after your mental wellbeing can help with symptoms during perimenopause and menopause.”
Today is World Menopause Day, and to support those going through the menopause and who are about to embark on their journey, Vitality Magazine is exploring four small incremental changes that can make a big impact to your experience.
More than 85% of women experience hot flushes during menopause. This can make it uncomfortable to sleep, and it can be rather debilitating, with most experiencing them at night.
“You wake up with this unbearable heat all over your body, from your head to your toes,” Joanne, aged 56, explains. “You feel restless, sweaty and cold all at the same time. When you do manage to get back to sleep, generally you don’t want to get up. You’re so tired from being awake for a good portion of the night.
“Invariably, you’re like a bear with a sore head, you’re anxious, emotional, crotchety and completely irrational. Whilst you know it’s the menopause making you feel this way, you find it hard to accept it, but once you do, you realise you’ve been suffering with so many other symptoms.”
More so than anything else, setting up a bedtime routine that works for you and improving sleep hygiene can be incredibly beneficial for when experiencing disruptions such as this. What does it mean to have strong sleep hygiene?
According to the Sleep Foundation Organisation, it means “having both a bedroom environment and daily routines that promote consistent, uninterrupted sleep”. Here are some ways that you can improve you sleep hygiene:
- Set your sleep schedule
- Follow a night-time routine
- Nurture healthy daily habits
- Enhance your sleeping space
Take time for your mental health
Changes in your hormones can impact your mental wellbeing, as well as the physical, says the NHS. The impact is often overlooked and underestimated. Kathy says: “The changing hormone levels experienced during menopause can cause mood swings, low mood and anxiety.” So, it’s incredibly important to look after your mental health during what can be a challenging time.
If you’re new to looking after your mental wellbeing, try yoga, meditation, or a wellness app, guiding you through breathing exercises, soundscapes and wellbeing courses to explore mindfulness.
Enjoying wellness activities, such as group or individual yoga classes, heading out for a walk/run into nature, or taking part in other physical activity like visiting a gym or going for a swim, are proven to have mental health benefits dealing with the emotional aspects of menopause, as well as with insomnia and cognitive function.
As a Vitality member, you could get a 12 month Headspace subscription on us. Available with qualifying health insurance and life insurance. Log in to Member Zone for the details.
Eating the right foods
Peppy explain that it is common for women’s bodily functions to shift as our hormones decrease, which means energy and blood sugar levels change and weight gain begins to occur.
Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet and including foods like soy, dried fruits and nuts that are high in phytoestrogens – an oestrogen-like compound naturally found in plants – can support the body in dealing with the effects of menopause.
Reducing the amount of caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and spicy foods has also been found to significantly improve symptoms, says the NHS. You can give it a try by setting yourself goals.
If you’re a regular coffee drinker, try having your favourite cup once in the day or switching it out for something new, like hot water with lemon or a lower-caffeine replacement drink. Alternatively, limit alcohol consumption to weekends if you find yourself drinking more frequently than you would like.
Reach out, get support
More than just coping with the mental impacts of the menopause and hot flushes, women go through a handful of physical changes too. Conception, for one thing, is no longer a possibility, which may be something you want to know more about or plan for.
That’s why two years’ ago, Vitality partnered with the Peppy app, to offer support for more members who are perimenopausal and menopausal.
Peppy offers one-to-one chat and virtual consultations with a menopause expert, as well as a content library of on-demand articles, videos and events, and more, helping to make this chapter one of the best yet.
If you’re a qualifying Vitality health insurance member, download the Peppy app by searching for “Peppy Health” in your app store, and registering using your Vitality membership number.
Or if you’d like to find out more about Vitality health insurance, visit vitality.co.uk.
 Bansal, R. & Aggarwal, N., 2019. Menopausal hot flashes: A concise review. Journal of mid-life health. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6459071/
 Anon, 2017. Dealing with the symptoms of menopause. Harvard Health. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/dealing-with-the-symptoms-of-menopause
 CF;, C.M.N.L.C.C.L., Efficacy of phytoestrogens for menopausal symptoms: A meta-analysis and systematic review. Climacteric : the journal of the International Menopause Society. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25263312/
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