One of the problems experienced by women who are going through the menopause are hot flushes and night sweats. Although each individual is affected differently, everyone would agree that hot flushes and night sweats are symptoms they would rather live without.
At the National Innovation Centre for Ageing, Newcastle University we held a series of workshops to better understand what women experience during a hot flush or night sweat in collaboration with Cambridge Consultants and Open Lab.
Although, issues around women’s health and particularly the menopause can be a sensitive topic, the participants were keen to talk about the detrimental effect that hot flushes and night sweats were having on their lives. A range of scenarios such as sleep, social occasions and holidays were explored and there were lively discussions around how women coped or even avoided these situations.
Valuable insights were gained into the techniques and products that women used to manage the negative aspects of hot flushes and night sweats. One theme that emerged was that women would prefer to avoid having to take drugs such as HRT, either for medical or personal reasons. Some of the methods women used were magnets, a fan and avoiding alcohol, even though there is little evidence out there that these work.
Discreet but works!
One message that came through clearly is that women felt strongly that they needed something discreet, that actually worked to help them through the symptoms of the menopause.
As part of the workshop, Cambridge Consultants introduced some initial product ideas to stimulate ideas and feedback on how technology can be used to reduce the negative impact of hot flushes and night sweats. These were received with great enthusiasm and the participants provided excellent feedback.
Through this initial series of workshops and research, the understanding of what women feel, think and do during a hot flush or night sweat has been greatly improved.
In addition, there were glimpses of other symptoms that women experience when going through the menopause. We believe this insight into the impact of menopause will provide a spring board for ideas for new tools and approaches that can be used to improve lifelong health.
We are working with Cambridge Consultants to capture the insights from the workshops in a report which will be released later in May, you can pre-register for a copy of this report here.
Dr Meera Vijayaraghavan is a Senior Innovation Associate at the National Innovation Centre for Ageing, Newcastle University.
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