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Helping women to take control of menopausal hot flushes

Ageing expertise and commercial insight has come together to explore women’s experience of the menopause and propose technology-based interventions.

Many aspects of our lives and bodies change as we get older and technology can enable us to adapt and live longer and fuller lives. Cambridge Consultants was interested in exploring this further and focused on menopause as an example of age related change. We have partnered with the National Innovation Centre for Ageing, hosted at Newcastle University and Open Lab at Newcastle University’s School of Computing Science to explore women’s experience of the menopause and to propose technology-based interventions.

 A series of workshops revealed that:

  • Hot flushes and night sweats can have a profound effect on women’s physical, psychological and social wellbeing
  • There is a pressing need for a new range of consumer products that can help women to better manage their symptoms
  • A drug-free consumer device with ‘cooling’ consumables loaded into it was universally well received. As a result, Cambridge Consultants created a concept product, ‘Pebal’ that puts women in control

The workshops provided a basis exploration of what women might want, though the device has yet to be developed.

"women's issues"?

Although a natural part of the ageing process, the menopause is still seen by many to be merely “women’s issues”, and is a Cinderella subject, often ignored or marginalised and denied the focus of technology developers. Up to 80% of menopausal women will experience hot flushes, either during the day or at night and recurring on average for a period of seven years.

Cambridge ConsultantsNational Innovation Centre for Ageing and Open Lab at Newcastle University jointly held three workshops, with women attendees drawn from Cambridge Consultants and Newcastle University employees, as well as members of the public. The purpose of the workshops was to understand the impact of menopausal hot flushes, to explore how women manage their symptoms today and to establish the opportunity for ‘self-help’ technology to improve outcomes.

Attendees reported that they arrived at the menopause feeling unprepared for the major impact that it would have on their lives. Hot flushes were unpredictable, arriving suddenly and having a disruptive effect in the workplace or on sleep during the night. While women employed a variety of strategies to manage these hot flushes, from drug-based approaches such as HRT to herbal remedies and cooling pillows, the over-riding sense was that the symptoms of hot flushes were difficult to manage. One woman attendee commented that “I’m irritated by the disruption this is causing to my life… I’m tired and it has had a massive impact on my quality of life.”

For the full article please visit the National Innovation Centre for Ageing website.


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