Facing the menopause

Mary Smith was 52 when she first noticed symptoms of the menopause, in 2000. But a bout of hot flushes passed quickly and Smith, a grants administrator for British Arts, soon presumed the worst was over. In 2004, though, the flushes returned with a vengeance; this time she could suffer 30 a day, along with lack of energy, poor concentration and mood swings. “I’d be at meetings when suddenly I’d become totally infused with intense heat,” Smith recalls. “No sooner had I got over one flush than the next would come. I always felt hazy and under par.”

The average age at onset of menopause is 51, and doctors say that about 50 per cent of menopausal women will be sufficiently troubled by symptoms – hot flushes are among the most common – to seek some form of treatment; GPs typically prescribe hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Smith, however, didn’t find relief at the hands of a GP, but in a rising alternative treatment: facial reflexology.

Developed by the Danish reflexologist Lone Sorensen Lopez, the discipline borrows the central tenet of traditional reflexology – that areas of the body are “reflected” in the foot – and applies it to the face. The result is a treatment that looks like a face massage but, by targeting the right areas, proponents claim it can help to alleviate digestive complaints, migraines and muscle tension, as well as menopause symptoms.

Smith’s menopause symptoms were troublesome for her not only because of their severity but because of her lifestyle. A fitness enthusiast, Smith combined regular gym visits with weekly yoga and Pilates sessions. Now, hot flushes and the attendant tiredness was making all that too difficult. “They were constant,” says Smith. “At work I was endlessly taking deep breaths and drinking glasses of water. At night they stopped me sleeping. My energy was so low that trips to the gym, and evenings at the theatre, became less frequent. After a while I started to wonder if I’d ever get over it.”

Source - Times