Foot massages for menopause symptoms

One of the wonderful things that has happened over the last couple of years is that the word 'menopause' seems to have gone from being a vocabulary pariah to being one of the most talked about terms on the Internet. As such, more women are sharing their experiences and more people are exploring a variety of options to ease the unwanted consequences of hormonal change. What isn't often cited however, is the evidence. That's where we come in.

In an article I was sent recently, it spoke effusively about the benefits of foot massages to help ease common factors such as sleep disruption, fatigue and anxiety. The results were based on a small study and filled us with joy because they continue the conversation and research into non hormone related options to help support women through hormonal change. So what other evidence is there that massages help women in menopause - for us, it hinges on the acupressure points. Let’s explain…

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How many women experience mood swings in menopause?

The article we were sent looked at the effect of foot massages to ease sleep disruption, fatigue and anxiety. So let’s start with how many women experience these consequences of hormonal change.

Up to 40% of women experience sleep issues during menopause. It manifests differently in different people too. Some women struggle to get to sleep but then they get a full night’s rest, while others wake during the night for a myriad of reasons, from night sweats and hot flushes to anxiety levels or constantly needing to go to the toilet. The knock on effect can range from fatigue to depression.

Meanwhile, mood swings are also a common consequence of hormonal changes in menopause. In fact, around a quarter of women say they experienced them, ranging from anxiety to depression, sadness to irritability.

Read about lifestyle medicine for menopause

Holistic therapies for menopause: the evidence

These are amongst 34 identifiable symptoms of menopause, and massage has indeed been shown to have a positive impact. There is more and more research appearing to this effect. For example, a pilot study from the National Library of Medicine on the Effect of massage in postmenopausal women with insomnia, concluded that there was a significant improvement in the symptoms of anxiety and depression as well as sleep quality following 16 one-hour sessions of massage twice weekly.

In our own research into the efficacy of non-pharmaceutical treatment of menopausal symptoms, we commissioned a state-of-the-art scoping review of 99 peer reviewed papers, looking in particular at the efficacy of plant hormone based treatments, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and acupuncture.

What we found was that each of these therapies had a positive impact on menopause symptoms. In particular, acupuncture, which we were able to translate into the less invasive acupressure, could be used to target the root cause of particular consequences. This was the basis of the hormone balancing spa treatments that we have created and in which we train spa therapists. The research also contributed to the development of our hormone balancing skincare collection at MPlus.

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This particular approach is groundbreaking because of the broad spectrum nature of acupuncture. For example, you might go to an acupuncturist with a sore knee and it may be treated with the same points that would treat PMS as there is a similar underlying cause. We looked at symptom groups and matched the points that would be useful for those symptoms. For example, if you're struggling with sleep there's a kidney point on the ankle that we will work on.

The ultimate focus is on how you feel at the end of the treatment. As acupressure is not administered for as long as acupuncture, we also encourage the use of acupressure plasters which continue to apply pressure and continue the wellbeing at home, but also mean you can stimulate those points yourself.

Read about social prescribing for menopause

Foot massage for menopause

Back to our original point - is foot massage good for the unwanted consequences of menopause? Yes.

There are indeed pressure points on the feet related to anxiety-related sleeplessness, healing to improve sleep quality and reduce fatigue. Of course, you don't have to have research into massage to know that it is a deeply relaxing experience, whether it's your partner giving you a foot rub or having a professional treatment.

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Nonetheless, having professionally trained individuals who can provide targeted, holistic wellbeing support through menopause, backed up by scientific evidence, is essential in an environment where many women feel that HRT is the only proven solution to menopause symptoms. It's not - it's just one of many options women can choose from and the choice is ultimately their own.

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