To coincide with World Menopause Day, which was on 18th October 2022, new research* results, released by the British Nutrition Foundation, show women across Great Britain to be facing additional challenges when managing their menopausal symptoms due to the financial and emotional impact of the cost-of-living crisis.
The research, conducted by YouGov, reveals that just under a third (32%) of women who are going through or have been through the menopause and experienced symptoms have tried hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to reduce, prevent or cope with menopausal symptoms but that 1 in 10 women going through the menopause are now unable or less able to afford the cost of their prescriptions and 37% are more stressed about their finances and feel that this has heightened their menopausal symptoms. In addition, nearly a quarter of women report being unable or less able to purchase particular foods (22%) and vitamins (25%) they feel help to alleviate their menopause symptoms.
However, whilst many turn to dietary and herbal supplements, there is low awareness among women of simple diet and lifestyle changes that can support health during and after the menopause. Forty per cent of all GB women have heard that herbal supplements can help alleviate menopause symptoms and 29% of those experiencing menopause symptoms have tried such remedies despite the need for more evidence to understand the efficacy and safety of many. Yet just over 4 in 10 of all women had heard about the importance of bone health during the menopause (44 per cent), when the fall in oestrogen can result in bone loss and increase risk of osteoporosis, and that ensuring adequate calcium and vitamin D intakes can help maintain bone strength for the future.
Sara Stanner, Science Director of British Nutrition Foundation said: “At a time when women want to feel empowered and take control of their health by making diet and lifestyles changes to manage or cope with their menopausal symptoms, it is upsetting that the cost-of living crisis is making this more challenging.
As we know that the years leading up to the menopause and beyond are critical for bone health, it is important women are able to access plenty of calcium rich foods such as dairy foods like milk and yogurt, and green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale to protect against osteoporosis in later life. They are also advised to consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement containing 10 mcg during the autumn and winter months.”
Sixteen per cent of women who are going through menopause say that they are now working extra hours or shifts to earn more to be able to afford the things they need, while 14% are now unable or less able to afford the exercise classes or gym membership they rely on to help them cope with their menopause symptoms, with exercise also being important for bone health.
Sara Moger, CEO of the British Menopause Society said: “We’re pleased to be working with the British Nutrition Foundation to raise awareness of sound diet and lifestyle information during the menopause. General awareness among women of how diet and lifestyle choices can impact and help them cope with the symptoms of menopause is growing. There is now more evidence-based advice widely available so that women are able to self-help and manage better. It is encouraging to see that 44% of would visit their GP or other healthcare professionals for advice and a similar number (43%) would seek advice from the NHS, including the NHS website.”
Other sources of information revealed by the research include online search engines (38% of women), menopause charities or foundations (23% of women), social media platforms (15%) and news or lifestyle articles (15%). Thirty-eight per cent of women would ask family members, friend or close colleagues for advice and 42% of men say whilst they will not experience menopause themselves, they will likely have others to support through it such as a partner, friends or colleagues.
Women looking for evidence-based information about food, nutrition and lifestyle during the menopause should visit the British Nutrition Foundation’s website: www.nutrition.org.uk/life-stages/women/menopause.
* All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2342 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 30th September – 3rd October 2022. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).