Each year approximately five million women in the UK are in the menopausal ‘age group’ (45-55years old) and it’s believed around 75% of women will experience hot flushes[i]. Peri-menopause stars in women at around aged 40 years old and many suffer with sleep problems, mood changes and hot flushes during this time.
We chat with Jo Darling, the co founder of Menopoised.co.uk to find out about the menopause, perimenopause and their exciting natural products to support women during this challenging time.
Thanks for chatting with us Jo, can we start off by asking what are the signs of menopause?
Every woman’s menopause is different. If it’s happening naturally, the first sign is usually a change in your periods. They can become heavier, light, more frequent or more erratic.
I say naturally as some women experience the immediate onset of menopause due to medical treatment such as chemotherapy for cancer or following surgery including hysterectomy.
Hot flushes and night sweats are probably the most outwardly noticeable sign of menopause and are experienced by around 75% of women in the western world. It’s interesting to note that in the far east only around 5% of women report hot flushes as a symptom of their menopause. And while it’s not completely known why, it’s believed to be due to diet and the cultural perception of aging.
Incidentally, menopause is just one day. It’s the one-year anniversary of your last period. After that day you’re post-menopausal and before then you’re classed as perimenopausal.
That’s fascinating Jo – we have also heard about women in the far east have less symptoms – and eating soya/ tofu has been encouraged. Jo can you let us know what is perimenopause? It seems to be a fairly new buzzword?!
Perimenopause is the time before the actual day of menopause when your period may start to change and issues such as hot flushes often begin. The changes start because, as your egg reserve dwindles, your levels of the hormone oestrogen decline.
At that point, the body starts to make a different type of oestrogen, no longer related to the ovaries but created by the adrenal glands and metabolised in your fat cells. This is why keeping your stress levels as low as you can (stress activates the adrenal gland hormones) and your weight as ‘normal’ as possible (too much fat can lead to too much oestrogen and associated problems.)
Oestrogen has over 400 uses in over 300 places in the body. It also works in tandem with other hormones such as progesterone to create balance. When eggs decline, oestrogen from the ovaries decline. When oestrogen levels are out of balance the issues can be far reaching. It can affect your confidence, memory, and ability to be rational and sociable. A reduction in oestrogen can have a drying effect causing dry skin, a dry vagina and constipation. It can cause other issues such as hot flushes, night sweats, anxiety, depression, aching joints, insomnia, heart palpitations and much more.
We hear that many perimenopausal women are mis diagnosed with other issues such as depression….. what are your views on this? What can women do?
It’s a complicated situation, my expertise is in treating women naturally using Chinese medicine techniques such as acupuncture and herbs. We treat the whole person so when I see a peri/menopausal women I want to know their full health history so that I can understand the root of their issues.
Each woman will have different genes, a different lifestyle, and a different physical and mental disposition. In Chinese medicine we see menopause as a natural part of aging and tend to categorise menopausal issues into 6 or so different types. We then tailor treatment accordingly.
I hear about women being put on anti depressants at menopause and it’s not a straightforward situation. First off, Dr’s are general practitioners, and they must elect for training in menopause rather than having it as an in-depth part of their training. Even now, despite 50% of the world’s population going through menopause, the lack of education is staggering. I think that’s the most likely reason why women are recommended anti-depressants.
It’s widely acknowledged that GP’s often don’t spot peri menopause because a woman doesn’t fit the medical criteria for example, they’re ‘too young’. I think this is changing and there are some pretty powerful female Dr’s doing a great job educating the medical world.
Anecdotally I’ve heard it said that menopausal women have been treated for depression as a preventative measure. Because the symptoms they’re experiencing e.g. insomnia are so severe that it’s believed they need medicine before physical issues become a mental problem. which I’m not entirely sure about.
Chinese medicine is all about preventative treatment, our holy grail is to treat well patients so that we can keep them that way. And we don’t separate the mind from the body. So, if a patient came for acupuncture, they’d be receiving support for the whole of them.
And lastly antidepressants are used ‘off-label’ for hot flushes and night sweats. This means that whilst antidepressants have been trialled and are safe and effective for depression, they haven’t been rigorously trialled for hot flushes and night sweats.
What other support is there for women?
There is so much wonderful support for peri/menopausal women. As an acupuncturist, I’m a huge advocate of natural support. Menopause is a natural life transition, it’s what our bodies are supposed to do. For me, I don’t think we should be replacing what our body is naturally no longer producing. That’s not to say we shouldn’t be looking after ourselves. In Chinese medicine we believe that if you ‘live well’ you ‘live long’.
The natural route is not necessarily a quick or cheap fix but it’s looking after yourself in the best way you can. If you think about your body as a machine, a part of aging, bits will wear out. So why wouldn’t you take care of all the parts of that machine to make it last as long as possible?
There is so much you can do with nutrition. The adage ‘you are what you eat’ is spot on. And that’s not just food but also liquids. Water is key to flushing out hormones, keeping you lubricated and hydrated.
Stimulants on the other side of the coin are depleting. Caffeine stresses the adrenal glands and removes water from the body. It’s not just in coffee but in tea and chocolate too.
Sugar can be problematic too, creating inflammation and affecting blood sugar. Alcohol, which is full of sugar, compromises the liver which is already working hard processing the change in hormones.
I always recommend my patients see a qualified nutritionist or naturopath, to be in the care of a professional who can tell you what to eat and help you with supplements etc can be life changing.
Acupuncture, of course is wonderful! My practise is focussed on women from fertility, pregnancy, and menopause. By treating the root of the person, you can make a difference to a wide-reaching set of issues over a course of treatments.
How did you come up with the idea for your products?
I was treating cancer patients, in my role as a consultant acupuncturist at a private hospital, through their chemotherapy, radiotherapy and beyond and having great results.
These women are thrown into immediate menopause through their medication and symptoms can be debilitating because there’s no gradual decline of hormones. One day they’re there the next they’re gone.
I was using a magnet, placed on an acupuncture point, used for thousands of years to clear heat in the body and noticed I was getting great results. I conducted a trial, had the data analysed by Sussex Innovation Centre (part of Sussex University) and found that it benefited around 80% of women who used it to reduce the intensity and frequency of hot flushes and/or night sweats.
I also developed some aromatherapy oils to help women to find cool, embrace calm and be collected. We’ve got further plans for the combination of acupuncture and aromatherapy in development now. So exciting!
Tell us a little about a story or 2 of someone using your products.
Well, Nikki Gatenby, my co-founder of Menopoised, is a fantastic example of a woman whose life was changed by our Menopoised Menopause Magnet. She was used to sitting in board rooms having led successful businesses for over 25 years. When she became peri menopausal, she found her hot flushes unbearable, especially at work. She’s been a friend of mine for years and an acupuncture patient, when she mentioned the problem, I immediately suggested the magnet. After 24 hours of wearing the magnet her 10 a day hot flush problem disappeared. Her words ‘life changing’. She liked it so much she bought into the company, I call her Victor Kiam and together we launched this year in lockdown.
We have so many wonderful testimonials. I’m so excited that we’re able to change so many women’s menopausal experience and can’t wait to take Menopoised worldwide!
“I can immediately tell the difference in my body when I’m wearing the magnet, the hot, prickly uncomfortable feeling goes and I can get on with my day feeling cool and calm, plus I’m no longer woken up with night sweats which means I’m now getting a good night’s sleep! Even better is that it has totally stopped my migraines – I was getting them around twice a week since my menopause started and they are totally debilitating. I recently went on holiday for a week, forgot my magnet and they started again. I am now never leaving the house without it!’ ,
Not one hot flush and I slept through the night; I usually wake several times drenched in sweat!
Today I feel like I can manage the menopause, thank you Menopoised (heart)
Since wearing the magnet my hot flushes and night sweats have all but disappeared!
My night sweats have gone…. unbelievable. I feel much more positive and in balance…. I will certainly never be without my little magnet SM
I was barely coping. I didn’t want to go out and I was becoming more isolated… the Menopoised Magnet has been my life saver
It has been an absolute game changer and it shows that nobody has to suffer
What would you like to share with the VeggieVision TV reader who may be wondering if they are entering their perimenopause or menopause?
If you’re worried it’s worth seeing a Dr, make sure you book to see the person at your practise with the most experience/training in menopause. Know that, usually, a Dr won’t do blood tests the NICE guidelines say that GP’s can ‘diagnose’ menopause according to age and ‘symptoms’. As a result, they will offer you lifestyle advise and HRT.
I’m absolutely not anti HRT, in fact Chinese medicine was using HRT thousands of years ago! I do think though that it’s important to be informed and have a choice.
Take a look at your nutrition and lifestyle, find an expert who can support you and make some changes to your life. You’ll feel the benefit and you’ll be supporting yourself to live well and long.
Menopause is a natural life transition, it’s what our bodies are supposed to do. In the west, the stigma around aging, particularly women aging and it’s not ok. In eastern culture there is so much more respect and reverence for elders. As a result, women have a much more positive, natural experience of aging. That’s what I wish for all women – a positive menopause, naturally.
We have tried the essential oils and they smell fantastic, easy to use with roller applicator on a small glass bottle. Roll on your pulse points or the palm of your hands and cup your face, Take three long deep slow breaths.
Many thanks to Jo Darling, the co founder of Menopoised.co.uk.
With thanks to Real Face Of Sales for the image of the 4 women at a table.