We invited Eileen Willett, Co-founder of Cucumber Clothing to tell us about their cool clothing range, the story behind it and why she and her Co-founder are trying to take the best of technology to help women not just look better but feel better.
It’s 2019 and technology seems to have seamlessly inserted itself into every aspect of our lives. From buying a flat to renting a dog, everyone knows: there’s an app for that. When we launched our company, Cucumber Clothing in 2017, our whole USP posed the question – what happens when fashion meets technology? We were intent on using the latest cutting edge fabric technology with all the extraordinary benefits it brings in a brand new way.
Roll back two and half years, when Nancy, my Co-founder, and I had just returned from a holiday with a group of like-minded forty to fifty year old women. We were astonished to find that so many conversations were dominated by the topic of getting too hot, disturbed sleep and the severe knock-on effects these could have on day-to-day lives. When we returned home we did a quick Google to discover that the options for solution-based clothing were minimal. Not only that, they either appeared medical or depressingly geriatric.
We knew from experience that the fabrics used in sports and athletic kit were amazing – they kept you cool and dry, whether trail running or downward dogging in hot yoga, never seemed to crease, washed easily, dried quickly and seemed to repel odours. We got our heads down and did a huge amount of research and testing to find a fabric that not only did all of these things but also felt and looked gorgeous to wear.
We found The One and our first small capsule collection was put together to test the waters. It was very much sleepwear focused with six mix and match pieces. Two days after our launch, the Fashion Director of the Daily Telegraph, Lisa Armstrong wrote a piece about us and our fashion + tech, solutions based brand. Our website went crazy and since then we have had a non-stop incredible response, not only from the press, but most importantly, from women all over the world who were looking for a solution.
We believe this is in no small part due to the fact that consumers have become used to products that are designed well. The deep frustration we feel when there’s a glitch with our email is not dissimilar to the one we feel when we’re rushing around on a hot day and our clothes let us down, whether with fabric wrinkles, sweat patches or just a dank, clammy feeling, except somehow, with clothing, it feels so much more personal. The technology exists, now there is no reason not to wear clothing that not only looks great on, but also keeps you feeling great too.
Since our launch we have been led by our customers. Straight away we received a huge amount of feedback about how great our clothes were for travel/living in a hot climate, for young mums, for curvier women, for women going through medical treatment as well as, of course, for women going through hormonal fluctuations. All the positives of wicking, anti-crease, anti-bacterial (odour), cold wash, hang dry translates brilliantly to the everyday lives of women of any age.
Since the cornerstone of Cucumber Clothing rests on our fabrics, people are often understandably curious about how they work and what they are made of. In an era when sustainability and corporate responsibility is at the fore, this was something we have thought long and hard about. We definitely feel that a significant part of our roles as manufacturers is education. Any company that creates anything uses energy and resources – the only real way to dress sustainably is to not dress at all! Many women also have a predilection or even prejudice towards using only ‘natural’ fibres, particularly cotton. We are here to bust that bias. Our fabrics are made with a large component of polyester. Yes, we acknowledge poly is very much a human made fibre, but as a result of this, we call ourselves ‘slow fashion’. Our clothes last up to six times longer than cotton, they require very little washing (cold washing) and little or no ironing; over the lifetime of a garment the energy used is minimal. Our clothes are created with the idea that they will form part of someone’s wardrobe for years to come, not just for this season. We also need people to understand that some natural fibres, in particular, cotton, are the cause of devastating environmental damage – just google the Aral Sea Basin to see for yourself. We’ve learned there is no one right way to be sustainable, but with every collection we are getting that bit better. (Plastic free since June 2019!)
Our newest fabric incorporates 37.5® Technology which uses 50% plant cellulose made from sustainable beechwood forests and volcanic material (in itself a completely natural product). The best thing of all? It starts to cool you down as soon as your body strays from the ideal core body temperature of 37.5°. Fashion tech!
We wrote at the beginning of this piece that technology has become an integral part of our lives. It’s clear that this can be a force for good as well as bad. With Cucumber Clothing, we’re trying to take the best of tech to help women not just look better, but feel better, we hope you’ll give it a try.
Using alternative therapies for menopause relief can be extremely helpful in enabling you to relax and de-stress. If hormone replacement or other forms of medication are not for you, do not despair as there are other alternatives. At the end of the day it is whatever works best for you.
Massage is one of the oldest healing traditions. One of the immediate benefits of regular massage is a feeling of calm and deep relaxation – effects which last longer after the massage is over.
Aromatherapy is the practice of using natural oils to enhance psychological and physical well-being. The inhaled aroma is believed to stimulate brain function. Absorbed through the skin, they travel through the bloodstream and can promote whole-body healing. Uses include pain relief, mood enhancement and increased cognitive function. You can achieve the benefits of natural essential oils by mixing and using the oils yourself or you can have a regular aromatherapy massage. Geranium is said to be particularly effective for menopausal symptoms.
Many women have found that yoga including restorative and supportive poses can alleviate the troublesome effects of menopause.
Meditation is a time efficient way of dealing with issues between the physical and mental stresses of the day and the deep sleep needed to be able to function during the waking hours. Try this:-
Prepare a quiet, bland space and sit in a straight backed chair
Place a hand on your stomach
Concentrate on the sensation of your lungs filling with air as you take long slow breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth
Once you feel your stomach rise and fall under your hand you know that its working
One of the benefits is to clear your mind of all the worries of the world and this will come eventually, even it, at first your mind is flooded with them. It may help to concentrate on the sensation of your breathing or a singular item such as the sun, the moon, a flower, a palm tree, a sunset…
Mindfulness is basically a way of living your life. There are various techniques used by people to operate ‘mindfully’ in their everyday lives, but many choose to get their daily dose through meditation.
Helen Breward, International Hypnotherapist & Speaker and Pioneer of the nationally and internationally recognised Menopause Relief Programme. If this is something of interest to you, you may find Helen’s post heplful ‘Hypnosis – Mind Over Menopause’.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
CBT is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on modifying negative thought patterns and behaviours. This type of therapy encourages people to become aware of their negative thinking and respond to challenging situations in more effective ways. It’s free of any side-effects, suitable for everyone and is recommended by NICE (The National Institute for Health Care and Clinical Excellence) as an alternative menopause treatment.
A small study recently reported in the Journal Menopause concluded that CBT was particularly effective in improving hot flushes and night sweats, depression, sleep disorders and sexual concerns. Researchers stated ‘although future studies will be need to confirm the impact of CBT-Meno on anxiety symptoms, these results suggest that this protocol is effective in targeting commonly reported menopause symptoms.
Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine and a key component of traditional Chinese medicine in which thin needles are inserted into the body.
A small Danish study published in BMJ Open in 2019 suggests that acupuncture may be worth considering for ease of symptoms. The Danish study found that five weeks of acupuncture in women with menopausal symptoms reduced hot flushes, night sweats, sleep disturbances and emotional problems. However, researchers cautioned that they could not rule out that he results were as a result of the placebo effect.
Reflexology, also known as zone therapy is a non-intrusive complementary health therapy, based on the theory that different points on the feet, lower leg, hands, face or ears correspond with different parts of the body.
There is no absolute evidence based material backing reflexology for menopause relief, however, some women swear by it, so it comes down to what works for you.
Rest and Relaxation
The most successful and not to mention the most cost effective alternatives have to be the art of rest and relaxation. If you can facilitate time out for yourself for rest and relaxation as often as possible, these two things alone can make the most significant difference to your perimenopausal transition.
Kamma Sundgaard Lund et al. Efficacy of a standardised acupuncture approach for women with bothersome menopausal symptoms: a pragmatic randomised study in primary care (the ACOM study). Retrieved on 30 June 2019. Retrieved from https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/9/1/e023637
Chatha R, Nagarathna R, Padmalatha V, Nagendra HR. Effect of Yoga on cognitive functions in climacteric syndrome: A randomized control study. BJOG. 2008;115:991–1000. [PubMed]
What is Reflexology? Retrieved from https://www.aor.org.uk/home/what-is-reflexology
Green, Sheryl M. PhD et al. Cognitive behavior therapy for menopausal symptoms (CBT-Meno) a randomized controlled trialMenopause: Retrieved from https://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/Abstract/publishahead/Cognitive_behavior_therapy_for_menopausal_symptoms.97375.aspx May 15, 2019 – Volume Publish Ahead of Print – Issue – p
This is a guest post by Becks Armstrong. Becks is the creator of Clarity: an app to improve women’s health through mindfulness, relaxation and sleep.
At the moment you can’t pick up a newspaper or magazine without a reference to mindfulness. At times it can feel like it’s a catch-all panacea for everything that’s going on for us in the modern world.
But what is it and what can it do for you during menopause?
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a form of meditation (as is transcendental, zen and even yoga). Mindfulness in particular is where you take a moment out of your day to purposefully stop what you’re doing, focus on your breathing and tune into your body and how it’s feeling right now, without any judgement – just observing.
It’s not a long form of meditation, in fact you can spend as little as 2 minutes a day in your practice. Who doesn’t have 2 minutes? (If you can sit daily for 10-15 minutes the better the benefits.)
When was the last time you just stopped and didn’t judge an event, action or pain? While it’s easy to say it’s actually a little trickier to do (which is why we call it practicing mindfulness).
We know that the world is getting busier and that our stress levels are increasing. The problem with this increase is that it has a direct impact on our menopausal symptoms.
Because a lot of the symptoms of menopause can affect your mental health (feeling overwhelmed, irritability, anxiety and lack of sleep to name just a few) the higher your stress levels are the bigger the impact on your daily life and wellbeing.
That’s where practicing mindfulness comes in.
There are a few interesting studies that have shown how mindfulness can impact how you feel about your menopausal symptoms, for instance hot flushes or generalised anxiety or even improving your sex drive.
Learning to take the time out to connect with your breath and observe thoughts without judgement can help you lower your stress levels and improve some of your symptoms. This can be in severity but also in frequency.
The trick is you need to practice mindfulness daily – and I say trick because we can remember to take a pill daily but for some reason we don’t prioritise our wellbeing to focus on our breath as consistently.
Will it cure my menopausal symptoms?
Sadly there is no one thing that will “fix” or “cure” all of your menopausal symptoms, though there are many small lifestyle changes or medication to make an impact on how you’re feeling.
The beauty of mindfulness is another tool in your armoury. It doesn’t matter if you’re taking HRT, alternative remedies or nothing at all, you can still be mindful.
Your attitude can make a real difference
Fun fact: the attitude that you have going in to your menopause transition will affect your experience of it. For instance the more fearful or panicked you feel as a hot flush starts, the more intense they will be. That’s why I created InstaCool – listening to the session will help you learn to welcome the rush of warmth in and then balance your body with cool imagery. Leaving you feeling positive post flush.
More and more research is being carried out about how your mindset can impact things like sleep, your understanding or feelings of pain and also loneliness. Taking small but consistent steps towards a more positive mind set from even the darkest space will help you to feel better.
Building a daily gratitude practice in every night as you go to bed, for instance, can help stop the re-run of the day’s stressors as you fall asleep. Allowing your mind to relax and put you into a deeper and more restful sleep.
So don’t we all breathe already?
There is a big difference between the breathing that we do during our day and mindfully taking a nice slow deep breath in and a longer and relaxing slow breath out. It’s similar to what you do in a deep sleep.
Sadly most of us don’t breathe in this deeper way because of the onslaught of our day to day activity. Running around after everyone else and giving yourself no time to just stop and focus on your breath.
Have you ever said you don’t have time to do meditation? Many of the symptoms of menopause can be psychological (feeling overwhelmed, brain fog, anxiety, or insomnia anyone?). It makes you feel like your brain is literally full or exhausted. By managing to practice mindfulness daily you will find that you don’t feel as tired, that you can prioritise better and it is easier to focus.
The scientific research on the benefits of mindfulness and taking some time out to slow your breathing is really compelling – it helps with focus, improving anxiety, helping us sleep. It can even increase your body satisfaction. Who wouldn’t want that?
So how do you start?
I created Clarity with a lot of help from women that are either perimenopausal or menopausal. I created a 10 day introduction to help you understand how to do it – all you have to do is decide to make the time to listen daily. They are all under 10 minutes so set an alert on your phone to put the time aside.
From there you can find what you need by symptom (the star) or by checking out the packs on the app to find one you’d like to try.
I know that menopause is a rocky time for many women and with daily practice I hope you can (at the very least) start padding the edges a little.
To help you along with your practice I’m delighted to offer you a one month voucher to the app. Just go to https://voucher.clarity.app/ and put in the code CFA-WW to get the access.
Becks Armstrong has dedicated her life and career working towards improving the lives of women of all ages and in all situations. She leads Clarity now to create awareness and support for the issues that uniquely affect women getting ready for and going through menopause..
As an experienced COO in high-growth tech start-ups in London as well as being a degree educated acupuncturist, Chinese medicine practitioner, mindfulness coach and doula, Becks combines operational excellence with a deep understanding of women.
Book Review: Men…Let’s Talk Menopause: What’s going on and what we can do about it by Ruth Devlin.
We all understand the importance of the men in our lives understanding what’s going on with us during the menopause transition but it’s not always easy to get our point across without becoming mildly hysterical!
This book offers a comprehensive, succinct, evidence based guide to menopause which has been written for men to encourage them to understand and support their partner.
Men…Let’s Talk Menopause addresses all the important aspects of the menopause, including the physical, psychological, genitourinary and long term symptoms that can occur. It also provides essential information on the options available to cope with these symptoms including HRT, alternative remedies and therapies. Additionally, it provides practical lifestyle advice for men and women. There is also a useful checklist for you both to refer to at the back of the book.
I commend Ruth on writing such a succinct book (not an easy task) that can be read in one hit whilst the short chapter and bullet style of the book also makes it easy to dip in and out of. Ruth writes in a friendly, humorous, no waffle style and the book has been humorously illustrated by her eldest son Harry.
I would highly recommend that any woman going through menopause asks, persuades, cajoles (whatever it takes) into reading this book. In less than an hour they will have a much clearer understanding of what you are going through. If they share it with their friends – even better!
Ruth comes from a nursing background. She set up Let’s Talk Menopause in 2014 to raise awareness about the menopause. Ruth gives regular talks on the menopause and has spoken on the subject of menopause on BBC radio and TV.
We’ve invited Jane Dowling a clinical exercise specialist to discuss with us why exercise keeps us young during menopause and beyond.
Ageing and menopause come hand in hand and both can be a struggle. However, those who know me, know I strive to feel as young as possible but this can be harder when menopausal due to both menopause symptoms and the ageing process.
Jane Dowling, Clinical Exercise Specialist.
If we are feeling good then looking good shines through. This is highlighted by the research undertaken by the charity Women In Sport.
Women in modern day Britain have 6 core values those core
values change when we hit menopause and feeling good over looking good is key.
I know if I am not on my A game with exercise and eating
well not only does my mind and body suffer it shows in my face, skin and how I
move. Waking up feeling stiff is common, but with daily mobility and stretches
helps me feel like my younger self.
Our skin becomes less elastic and firm; however, our
ligaments and tendons become stiffer, our joints become less mobile and we lose
power from our muscles. So, we need to tackle both our body from the inside
When I exercise, I feel energised and the bags under my eyes
disappear, my skin looks better along with my muscle tone and how I hold
Exercising helps promote sleep; the body repairs itself when we sleep, you know yourself how you feel and look after a bad night’s sleep.
Sleep can be a problem during menopause and I understand it is hard if you are suffering with night sweats and waking up at in the middle of the night, I have been there and glad that part of my menopause has passed. If you are having problems, then you might want to read my blog from “Why I feared my bed”.
Moving and challenging your body will have amazing benefits not only physically but mentally. I post regularly on Instagram and my Insta stories about how I move on a daily basis – it isn’t just about going to the gym; it’s just about moving and becoming breathless on a daily basis and I try and demonstrate this. I also talk about how I am feeling and coping with life and menopause which is always linked back to how much I move, what I eat and if I am practising mindfulness or meditation; I have been in the health and fitness industry for 25 years, but even my halo drops occasionally!
I have been active most of my life; from being a gymnast
when I was younger to teaching aerobics for a long time at the beginning of my
career. The worst time of my life was
when I entered menopause, at the same time, I was also recovering from a car
accident and life changing shoulder surgery.
I was very inactive; not only did I feel horrible I looked
My body felt old, I felt and looked tired all the time and I
could not see the positives in life and really thought I was finished.
I rehabbed my injuries and slowly became active over time; I
am happy to say (touch wood) that if I am careful, I can pretty much do most
When I exercise not only does it have a positive impact on
how I feel right then, it has longer term health benefits. My skin glows and I
feel energised, I feel more positive and I am certainly more productive.
My point I am trying to make is that exercise keeps us young! So, take small steps today and over time you will feel and look younger. Do 1 thing today to make you feel better, even if it is lying in bed stretching, tomorrow you could go for a walk, by this time next year you will feel and look a whole lot better!
Jane is a clinical exercise specialist and has over 20 years’ experience in the health and fitness arena. She is a public speaker and blogger, as well as running a successful fitness studio in London Bridge. Inspired by her own menopause experiences she founded MENO&ME which offers evidence-based exercise, diet and lifestyle advice to women on how to find their fabulous again through menopause and beyond! Jane has extensive experience in dealing with a variety of clients, including older adults suffering from heart disease and osteoporosis. This ignited a passion to help educate younger women on how to take preventative measures towards improving their overall health www.menoandme.com
Large numbers of women have downloaded and started using the
app, collecting invaluable data which they have shared with the gynaecologist
with whom they consult, free of charge, through Dr Morton’s. We have been
struck by the severity of symptoms and the degree of distress experienced by
many women, such that we have decided to change the registration pathway, to
ensure that the first step is registration with Dr Morton’s so that medical
help is available immediately. The setting up of your account with Dr Morton’s
also ensures that your identity is confirmed by the correct authorities prior
to starting the study and prior to the start of collecting data.
The fantastic work of people like Julieann at Menopause Health Matters is gaining more and more
momentum, but just talking about it is not enough! Action is needed and
sometimes that involves treatment. My description of women as being
‘putter-uppers’ is simply too true.
So, we are so thrilled with the project that we are continuing
recruitment in order to get as much statistically significant data as possible.
If you are perimenopausal you can join the study and in
doing so get three months’ Free
access to expert gynaecologists plus Free
download of My Dr Morton’s Menopause app for
recording symptom data, to benefit (hopefully) both you as a user to see
patterns and monitor treatment, and by sharing it with your gynaecologist, that
they too may see objective evidence of how their treatments are working.
Women between the age of 45 and 55 years. Women may be peri or postmenopausal and can either be taking treatment for menopausal symptoms or not
Must own a Smartphone
How it works
Women will click through to the Dr Morton’s Menopause app and provide their sign-up details and agree the terms and conditions of the study.
Once you have done this a link will be sent to your email which will take you straight into the Dr Morton’s registration process for the Free gynaecology consultations.
Women who register with Dr Morton’s – the medical helpline will be asked to set up a GoCardless account to confirm online identity and in case they wish to have medication prescribed or decide to use any of Dr Morton’s other services.
All your medical consultations with Dr Morton’s gynaecologists or our GPs for other medical issues will be Free for three months from full completion of registration with Dr Morton’s – the medical helpline.
You will then be sent a second link by email to download Dr Morton’s Menopause app and start monitoring your symptom and wellbeing data. The app encourages you to keep a daily journal and helps monitor treatment, as well as providing you with interesting and up to date information about menopause topics.
After two weeks, you will receive an email asking you to tell us about how the data collection is going.
We suggest that you collect data for two weeks before ringing the Gynaecologist for an initial consultation. If, however you feel you need to speak to the gynaecologist before that time then please do so.
The doctor will ask if you are happy for them to view your Dr Morton’s Menopause app data at the time of the consultation.
Treatment may be prescribed or may be recommended for you to go to your GP to ask for a prescription.
Any difficulty in using the Menopause app will be addressed by the Medopad support team.
As part of the study we aim for you to have at least 2 consultations with the gynaecologist before the three-month trial is over.
We ask that you complete a short questionnaire that will be emailed to you on a monthly basis and at the end of three months. This is to assess if you found the collection and sharing of symptom and well-being data helpful in ensuring your problems were taken seriously.
Consultations with our gynaecologists are available from 7pm to 11pm and no appointments are necessary. Our GPs are available from 7am to 11pm and they will be happy to help with any medical issue.
As an outcome of the study we are looking at things objectively and would like to know if collecting symptomatic data prior to a consultation was it helpful in your decision-making process? The doctors will similarly be asked whether the availability of data improved their ability to help you.
Women will click through to the Dr Morton’s Menopause app and provide their sign-up details and agree the terms and conditions of the study.
Places are still limited so we do advise that you do this quickly so as not to be disappointed. You can learn more about the study and the service now through this link to get started.
We invited Nicki Williams, award-winning nutritionist, author, speaker and women’s health expert to discuss four major hormones that can dictate how you look, feel, think and perform. Meet your Feisty 4 Hormones!
When we hear about menopause, we are often hearing of symptoms
and issues associated with declining levels of oestrogen. And when we are
debating the pros and cons of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), we are talking
about oestrogen and/or progesterone replacement.
The thing is, the symptoms of menopause are not just down to
those two hormones.
Out of the 100 or so hormones that are swimming
around your body, there are four major ones that can dictate how you look, feel, think and perform. I call them the ‘Feisty 4’ as they really can be tricky to control, especially after the
age of 40. Unless you are looking after them, they can sabotage your weight
loss efforts, keep your metabolism on hold, crash your energy levels and cause
1. Cortisol – your STRESS hormone
Cortisol is released from the adrenal glands to wake you up in the
morning, keep you alert during the day and help you manage any dangers or
threats that come your way.
In caveman times, stress hormones saved your life
from a lion attack or a famine. Your ‘fight or flight’ response would kick in – the brain would send a message to the
adrenals to release adrenaline (the big initial rush), and cortisol (to keep
you on high alert).
A really important life-saving mechanism when you’re being chased
by a lion. Not quite so useful when you’re sitting in a traffic jam, or
Of course, you still need your ‘fight or flight’ response for emergencies, but these days, it’s modern-day
stresses like demanding bosses, deadlines, relationship issues, traffic jams,
kids, money worries and more, that switch it on.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature only gave you ONE stress response. That’s the ‘fight or flight’ one that evolved to keep you alive. I guess she couldn’t imagine
a time when we would have 24/7 technology, long working hours and the other
modern-day stresses that we all face.
Why your evolutionary stress response can be problematic:
It’s designed to be temporary –
once you escaped or killed the lion, you could rest in your cave and recover.
You can’t escape from modern-day stresses – there is no rest and recover
time – it’s unrelenting.
Cortisol haspriority over everything. When you are in danger, all your reserves are
diverted to survival mechanisms. That means no energy for:
digestive processes – digesting and absorbing vital nutrients
fat burning – your metabolism is stalled to conserve energy and fat stores
immunity – fighting infection and toxins
sex hormones – reproduction, monthly cycle, menopause, sex drive, bone health
During the transition years of perimenopause
(and often beyond), these symptoms can be exacerbated due to the extra stress
of hormone fluctuations.
Brain fog/memory loss
Low sex drive and/or infertility
2. Insulin – your fat-storing hormone
Will that spare tyre around your middle just not go, no matter what diet you try or how much exercise you do?
Insulin is one of the hormones responsible. It’s your FAT-STORING HORMONE! You absolutely need insulin – it has a life-saving job
of regulating your blood sugar levels, but your diet and lifestyle can
contribute to overly high levels of insulin, which can be problematic.
The blood sugar roller coaster
When you eat too many carbs or you are majorly
stressed, the resulting blood sugar surge stimulates large amounts of insulin,
which in its super-efficient job of removing the sugar can lead to a blood sugar crash a
little while later (hypoglycaemia), and another uncontrollable craving for a
biscuit, pastry or bar of chocolate. And here we go again…!
And on top of storing more fat, crashing your mood,
energy and brain function, it makes you AGE FASTER! All that sugar in the blood
causes something called glycation – it sticks to proteins in your body and causes damage and ageing.
High waist:hip ratio
Early hours insomnia
Headaches, irritability, shakiness, poor concentration (relieved by eating)
Excessive thrist and/or frequent urination
Family history of diabetes
3. Thyroid – your METABOLISM regulator
Your thyroid hormones are
vital for every cell in your body to function properly (every
single cell has a thyroid receptor). Thyroid hormones are a bit like a thermostat for our cells. They either turn you up (increase your metabolism, energy,
temperature, alertness) or they turn you down (slow down your metabolism,
conserve energy, decrease temperature, shut down non-essential functions),
depending on how much hormone you have available.
If your thyroid hormone isn’t functioning properly, it can affect
almost everything, resulting in symptoms pretty much anywhere in the body.
Over 80% of women experience symptoms due to
the changes and fluctuations in their sex hormones and menstrual
cycles between the ages of 40 and 55. And the changes
in oestrogen levels can be particularly problematic.
After 40, your reproductive capability
decreases. Your egg reserve, which started out as millions when you were born,
dwindles down to the last few hundred during this time. You’re coming to the
end of your fertile years and to add insult to injury, this transitional time
can result in huge hormone fluctuations and debilitating symptoms.
‘I’m too young for the menopause’! Many women
don’t realize their bodies are preparing for menopause – either they
don’t associate the symptoms (especially if they’re not having hot flushes) or
symptoms could be very similar to other hormone imbalances (such as
hypothyroidism or adrenal stress).
Progesterone is the first hormone to decline
as you age. As levels go down more quickly than oestrogen, the balance between
the two can tip into oestrogen’s favour – this is often referred to as
oestrogen dominance. Progesterone is mainly produced after ovulation, so
if you don’t ovulate (which can happen frequently during perimenopause),
production will be low and oestrogen will be dominant.
High oestrogen (or high
Oestradiol is the strongest of
the oestrogens we produce before menopause, and while essential in
the right amounts for heart, brain, skin, bone and reproductive health, this is
the hormone that is also growth promoting. It is there to help cells multiply
in order to thicken the uterus wall to prepare for pregnancy. This is why too
much of it can lead to proliferation of cancer cells.
When progesterone declines, you can have too much oestradiol and that can cause all sorts of symptoms, mainly relating to menstrual issues – heavy periods, bloating, lumpy or tender breasts, headaches, cramps, but longer term can lead to more serious conditions such as fibroids, cysts, endometriosis and breast and ovarian cancers.
Low levels of oestrogen, either due to
fluctuations during perimenopause, or more permanent low levels
post-menopause, can be equally damaging. Symptoms can include hot
flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, depression, dry itchy skin, wrinkles,
insomnia, brain fog and memory loss. Longer-term risks of more serious
conditions include osteoporosis, heart disease and cognitive decline.
Hot flushes/night sweats
Mood swings, crankiness
Memory loss/brain fog
Low libido/painful sex
Joint pain and bone loss
Headaches or migraines
The standard medical treatment for menopausal
symptoms is HRT (hormone replacement therapy), which can be
helpful for balancing your oestrogen/progesterone (do make sure you are taking
the body-identical form though).
However, HRT does not address any of the other
Feisty 4 imbalances.
As you can see a lot of these symptoms cross over each of the 4 hormones. That’s because your adrenal, thyroid, insulin and sex hormone function are closely interconnected. An imbalance in one is likely to affect the other. It’s important to check all sets of symptoms, see your doctor or a health practitioner and get yourself properly tested.
Balancing all of the Feisty 4 hormones through
food, lifestyle choices and targeted supplements can make a huge
A team from the University of Nottingham recently published a study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) stating that the blood clot risk was highest in women who take HRT tablets as opposed to other forms of the therapy, such as patches or gels. This risk was also increased in women who took higher doses.
Headlines the past few years have warned women that hormone replacement
therapy (HRT) can be linked to blood clots and stroke. The study conducted by
the University of Nottingham found that there is no increased risk in other
forms of the therapy which includes HRT administered via patches, topical
creams and gels.
HRT is administered via tablets and transdermal treatments such as patches,
topical creams and gels. Some HRT only contains estrogen (single drug), while
other forms of the therapy require women have both estrogen and progesterone
(combined drug). HRT can relieve menopause symptoms such as night sweats and
hot flushes as well as reduce the risk for certain health conditions in women
going through menopause.
The UK researchers hoped their research would give doctors more specifics to
help determine the risk of blood clots, known medically as venous
thromboembolism, in women who take HRT. They drew data from records of more
than 2,000 practices from 1998 to 2017. Other relevant factors, such as
lifestyle, family history of blood clots, and underlying conditions linked to
blood clots were taken into account.
When they compared records of all women who developed blood clots with those
who had not, they noted that women on HRT tablets were twice as likely to be at
risk for blood clots. These women had a 70 percent risk for blood clots
compared to those taking other forms of HRT.
The risk of blood clots was 15 percent higher in women on single and combined drug treatments for those taking natural estrogen that came from horse urine compared to synthetic estrogen.
Women using HRT in patch, gel, or cream form were not at increased risk for
blood clots, even those taking higher doses of the medication. Interestingly,
only 20% of HRT prescriptions were for non-oral treatments even though doctors
know they pose a lower risk.
“Our findings are particularly important for women who require HRT treatment
and are already at increased risk for developing blood clots,” said Yana
Vinogradova, PhD, a statistician who conducted the research at the University’s
school of medicine.
The researchers say these findings provide important information for women
and their doctors to help them make the best treatment choices.
They suggest greater consideration should be given to transdermal HRT,
particularly for women already at an increased VTE risk and in line with recent
BMJ 2019; 364:k4810 (Published 09 January 2019) Use of
hormone replacement therapy and risk of venous thromboembolism: nested
case-control studies using the QResearch and CPRD databases. Accessed 6 March
2019 Available at: https://www.bmj.com/content/364/bmj.k4810
A recent study found that acupuncture for the treatment of menopause symptoms is a realistic option for women who cannot, or do not wish to use hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
The study recently conducted by a Danish Team from Copenhagen said that their findings which are published in the online Journal BMJ Open, show that acupuncture offers “a realistic” treatment option for women who cannot, or do not wish to use hormone replacement therapy.
Study co-author Dr Kamma Sundgaard Lund said: “Not all menopausal women need or request treatment, and we believe that acupuncture intervention is most relevant to women who experience moderate-to-severe menopausal symptoms.”
Conclusions from the study: “The standardised and brief acupuncture treatment produced a fast and clinically relevant reduction in moderate-to-severe menopausal symptoms during the six-week interventions. No severe adverse effects were reported”.
Alternative therapies should only be decided upon after taking advice from qualified professionals.
Sources:Kamma Sundgaard Lund et al. Study: Efficacy of a standardised acupuncture approach for women with bothersome menopausal symptoms: a pragmatic randomised study in primary care (the ACOM Study). Retrieved on 22 February 2019. Retrieved from https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/9/1/e023637?fbclid=IwAR3XuM5XQX6mjLyyvKJEtL_0_FqnkaNnnldNyacIkW98wHIThg7Zsmujcgs
Forties on Fire: Take your Forties by Storm with Simple, Non-Nonsense Steps to Balance and Wholeness.
Forties on Fire is written by Kathryn Kos.
Kathryn is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner with an M.Ed. in Rehabiliation Counseling. By taking a functional approach to health, Kathryn focuses on helping women to overcome emotional and hormonal imbalance, creating diet and fitness plans that lead to total wellness while fostering health sleep and sexuality.
How to honor your emotions without letting them rule your life
How to turn back aging – mentally, physically and emotionally
Why sunlight matters so much to your health
Keeping sexuality alive as we age
How to add simple movement back into your life
Nutrition and supplements
The role of perimenopause in how you feel and how you can embrace it in your life
For anyone interested in personal development and holistic wellness in order to thrive throughout your forties and beyond this is a must-read. Women in their thirties, forties and fifties will all be able to take something positive from this book. It covers a wide range of topics including mood, nutrition, supplements, sleep and sex to name but a few. It is a mix of scientifically backed guidance and personal stories. It’s a quick read and can be used continually as a dip in and out book. If you have an open mind and you want to define who you are in the next stage of your life, get reading!