Over 75% of women surveyed said they were unprepared for the effect menopause had on confidence
Some women are lucky enough to glide through the menopause but for others it can disrupt every area of their lives impacting on their work and sex lives. A survey has revealed that over three quarters of women (75%), stated they felt unprepared for the menopause and the affect it had on their confidence levels.
46 per cent of women claimed that the menopause impacted on their confidence levels with two fifths stating that the menopause had a negative impact on their appearance.
Dr Sarah Brewer, Medical Director of Healthspan Nurture Replenish the hair and skincare brand who commissioned the research says, "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."
Dr Sarah Brewer adds, “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’ said, “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.”
Dr Arroll continues, “With regard to the menopause, research has shown that 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.”
The key is not to suffer in silence. Consultant gynaecologist Tania Adib from The Medical Chambers Kensington in London says, “I see a lot of women struggling with perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms including depression and anxiety. Data shows some women are just more sensitive to hormone levels, including reduced oestrogen, than others. What we also know is that anxiety often co-exists with depression and that mid-life events like empty nest syndrome may also have an impact. That said, I see hugely successful women at the absolute pinnacle of their careers who lose the plot for no apparent reason – their self-confidence plummets, they become anxious and sometimes aggressive.”
How to Rebuild Confidence
Take action, create a plan and do some research. Consultant gynaecologist Tania Adib 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.
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 been designed to use specific ingredients to help support hormonal change including the new Replenish 10-in-1 Hair Oil which locks in hydration and secures shine as well as protecting the hair.
We need constant hydration to replace body fluids lost through sweating, breathing and other bodily functions… Our skin, eyes, hair and mouth (salivary glands become less efficient over time) all get drier with age. Dehydration can cause a range of problems from headaches, to constipation and fatigue, and it can also impact on how our skin looks as well as causing itchy skin. Try and drink around 1.5 to 2 litres of water a day.
Inside Out Hydration
Dr Sarah Brewer, Medical Director recommends Sea buckthorn oil which is rich in beneficial omega-3 and omega-9 and has an unusually high amount of omega-7 which is an important building block for healthy skin and mucous membranes. It has been used for centuries to relieve conditions associated with dryness, such as eczema, dry eyes, dry hair and female intimate dryness. As vaginal dryness is a common problem associated with menopause, it is an invaluable supplement in later life.
In a study involving postmenopausal women with troublesome gynaecological dryness, itching or burning, taking sea buckthorn oil daily for 3 months provided significant benefits compared with a placebo, as assessed by gynaecologists. Those taking Sea buckthorn oil every day had a three-fold greater rate of improvement in the integrity of the vaginal walls than those taking the placebo. The essential fats in Sea buckthorn oil also help to improve the flexibility of arterial walls, while its plant sterols can improve cholesterol balance, and its antioxidants help to protect against unwanted blood clots. Try Healthspan Sea Buckthorn Oil 60 capsules £16.95
Book a Hair Appointment
36 per cent of women said the condition of their hair impacted hugely on their confidence. What better way to boost confidence than a new haircut. Celebrity hairdresser Carl Bembridge says, “You may want to bear in mind the thickness of your hair. The shorter the haircut the thicker the hair will look so if your hair is on the thin side, keep your hair cut shorter.”
Revamp Your Diet
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.”
Make One Small Change
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 and health. Exercise also boosts levels of the potent brain chemicals serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine - which often help buffer some of the effects of stress and anxiety linked with menopause.”
Book A Dental Appointment
Dr Uchenna Okoye, Cosmetic Director at London Smiling says, “We age from the lower part of the face and there are many simple ‘tweakments’ that can be done today to change a smile. Oral health becomes a priority during the menopause as hormonal changes take place and this changes gum health. Simple techniques like whitening can really boost confidence and gum recontouring and bonding can really change how a smile looks. At London Smiling I’ve seen a surge of forty/fifty plus women come in and either have a retainer fitted or invest in braces to help maintain a youthful smile and help slow down the ageing process and the need for fillers or Botox.”
Resist Wine O’clock
A 2017 YouGov survey found 28 per cent of women over 45 drank as much or more than their adult 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.
Dr Meg Arroll advises: It’s hard to feel confident if we never prioritise ourselves. Although it may feel natural, and necessary to put others first (children, partners, family members), by including ‘me time’ in your day (every day!) you’ll be in a better place to look after others. It’s the classic safety announcement “secure your oxygen mask first before helping others” – your daily oxygen can be whatever you like; 10 minutes of reading time, a warm bath or a 5-minute facial. A little bit of pampering can go a long way in terms of stress reduction and confidence-building
On a Positive Note
The survey does reveal that women are now taking control of the ageing process around the menopause and 46 per cent of women revealed that youth doesn’t necessarily bring with it confidence. In fact, the results found that women have less confidence in their appearance when they are in their twenties and younger but as they get older, confidence levels grow as women explore more about what actually works for them.