Savant Spy looks at ways spas can help women navigate hormonal changes
There are days when we females are just people, and other days where we can feel ruled by our hormones. From heavy, painful periods that mean taking time off work to hot flushes in a business meeting, we simply cannot escape our sex.
Thankfully spas are now treating women as complex living systems rather than aesthetic trophies or pampered poodles, and whatever you may think of vaginal steaming (don’t ask), at least it’s opened up a conversation around women’s sexual health.
With the NHS on its knees, there has never been more of a need for taking better care of – and indeed understanding - our own unique female health issues. After all, these can impact our day-to-day lives, relationships and finances in ways few people seem to acknowledge or understand.
We have already reported on spa-ing with menopause, perimenopause, periods, body issues, pregnancy and cancer; now we look at how UK spas are beginning to work with our hormonal cycles, womb functions and reproductive issues. And may we say amen.
In a time when gynaecological referrals feel like the holy grail, biohacking is having its day. It’s basically DIY biology aimed at improving overall health using simple tweaks, from sleep and cycle monitoring to practising yoga and meditation.
Grantley Hall recently held a Biohack-HER female-led afternoon session – surprise, surprise it sold out - where Molecular Biologist Dr Nichola Conlon led a panel to discuss ways to harness hormonal shifts, mood swings and cravings during monthlies, pregnancy and menopause.
Infrared saunas – which help the muscles relax - are good for easing period pains; the heat also releases pain-relieving endorphins which can help with cramping.
Massages with relaxing essential oils such as lavender, eucalyptus, chamomile and geranium can also help, as can nutritional adjustments with the advice of a registered naturopath or nutritionist.
Many of us suffering from hot flushes and menopausal anxiety tend to give hot steamy spas a wide berth, and yet the benefits of certain treatments and spa self-care during this time are worth exploring.
Moddershall Oaks in North Staffordshire launched its Pause and Renew treatments for women going through menopause in 2022. The 50-minute treatment includes a cool compress and soothing skin mask to calm hot flushes. Balms are used to nourish dry skin, while relaxation and deep breathing points to some better sleep.
Fairmont Spa & Wellness, Windsor (pictured below) launched its own GenM menopause menu last year which we had the joy of testing. Our starter of Textures of Beetroot with goat’s cheese was as pretty as a picture; our seared tuna with tomato and lentil salsa hearty and delicious. We ended the meal with a Chai rice pudding with coconut and blueberries.
The Spa at Bedford LodgeHotel has a Midweek Meno-pause Spa Experience, with a foot soak and consultation and an ESPA massage tailored to your individual needs.
Voya, famed for its seaweed cures, are launching menopause specific treatments: Nourish Tide for the skin, Grounding Tide for the mind and Fortify Tide for the body. Seaweed contains vitamins and minerals such as A, B and E for healthy bones and teeth, and magnesium, iron and B12 for mood swings and anxiety.
Endometriosis is an inflammatory hormonal condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other places (typically the bowel and stomach), leading to excess bleeding, organs sticking together and – needless to say - chronic pain.
According to Endometriosis UK, one in 10 women of reproductive age in the UK suffer from this debilitating condition (it’s more common than diabetes) and yet it can take up to eight years to get a diagnosis. After that, it’s usually managed by a series of operations.
Several studies have shown that regular massage gives short-and long-term relief from the pelvic pain and muscle spasms of endo. There are also theories that endo spreads via the lymphatic system so a lymphatic massage - which speeds up the body’s natural drainage system - can relieve pain and reduce water retention. As always, it’s important to work with a registered practitioner.
Hot tubs can also offer pain relief and lower inflammation, while Reflexology works across the board and, most importantly, does no harm.
Lifehouse Spa&Hotel has some wonderful wellbeing treatments tailored to work on specific areas of your body using Made for Life organic products. Try reflexology, Reiki, Acupuncture or a soothing Private Alchemy Crystal Sound Bath Meditation.
All in all, we recommend mindful monitoring, regular check-ups and pushing for a referral - or going private if necessary. It’s important to get the facts before reaching for a cure; it’s also vital to check with your spa therapist so that they can work with your particular symptoms.
Knowledge is power, as they say - and spa its reward.