Why your menopause symptoms can get better or worse on holiday

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Menopause Advisor
@EileenDurward
Ask Eileen


29 May 2017

Read the full video transcript below

Today's topic

Hello, and welcome to my weekly video blog. And today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I'm going to talk about what can happen to your symptoms when you go on holiday. Now, this is a really interesting one because there's two camps, if you like. A lot of women get back to me and say, "I'm really surprised because my symptoms got better when I was on holiday, even though I was going to somewhere that was really hot." And other women get back to me and say, "I can't understand. I was on holiday, I was relaxing, and my symptoms have got worse." So, what's going on here?

Symptoms get better on holiday

Relaxation & Sleep

Well, let's look at those of you who find that your symptoms get better when you're on holiday. It can be down to a number of things, and the first one is relaxation. And most of us do go on holiday to get a little bit of extra relaxation and rest, and it may well be that you're doing more relaxation on holiday than what you would normally do at home. And if you're relaxing during the day, you will sleep better, as well, and we know that a good night's sleep in the menopause is worth its weight in gold.

Diet

You may well be eating better. And especially if you're on one of these all-inclusive holidays, there might be loads of lovely fresh salads and fresh foods. And the fact that we don't have to do any cooking or any washing up afterwards means that, very often, we end up having a bigger choice of foods than we would back home, too.

Water

If it's a lot hotter, you may actually naturally be drinking more water, and we all know how good water is for us in the menopause. And that's a really important one.

Vitamin D

If you're doing a little bit of sunbathing, you might be getting an extra shot of vitamin D, and vitamin D is great for us menopausal women. It helps with mood, it can reduce joint pain, it can help with irritability, it can help with muscle cramps. So, it's a lovely one to get, and you can build up your vitamin D quite quickly on holiday, but remember, in order to get the sun's benefit for our vitamin D, we have to be in the sun for a little while without suntan cream on. If you go straight out into the sun after putting suntan cream on, your skin cannot manufacture vitamin D properly. So, if you want to get a nice little shot of vitamin D when you're on holiday, then a little bit of early morning sunbathing and a little bit of late afternoon sunbathing is probably going to be enough for you.

Exercise

The other thing that we sometimes do on holiday is that we exercise a little bit more. Not necessarily to a great extent, but you might be going out for an early morning walk, you might go for a little early evening walk because the sun's out. There might be beautiful views to look at. You might be swimming. You might be doing a little bit of swimming every single day. So, those little bits of daily exercise can play a big part in making you feel a lot better.

What has changed?

So, if this is you, if you find when you go on holiday that your symptoms ease off, then look at what you're doing on holiday that you're not doing at home, and try and incorporate some of them into your daily life. And I know a lot of you, especially in the UK, will be saying, "But we don't get a lot of sunshine." If that's the case, then maybe look at a gentle vitamin D supplement, just to boost your vitamin D levels, and we know that that can make quite a big difference to a lot of symptoms.

Symptoms get worse on holiday

Water

Now, if you're one of those who go away on holiday and your symptoms get worse, then very often, it's the complete opposite of those who find their symptoms are getting better. You might not be drinking enough water. If you've not been drinking enough water at home, and you go away on holiday and it's a little bit hot, you might not be upping your water enough. So, that's the first thing. When you go on holiday, especially if you find that your hot flushes or your night sweats are getting worse, then just make sure that you're really getting plenty of water into your system on a daily basis.

Stress

What did you do the week before you came away on holiday? And this is a big one, and not many women actually realise, that the week before you go on holiday can set the mood for when you're on holiday yourself. And what do we normally do? If we're busy working, we leave everything to the last week. We're running around the shops trying to find suntan cream, or a new bathing suit, or a new hat or sunglasses. You may well be leaving some family at home, and in which case, are you cooking for them? Are you doing extra cooking and putting it in the freezer? And, as women, what do we do? We want a nice house to come home to when we've been on holiday. So, probably, the night before we go on holiday, we're running around hoovering and dusting, and making sure the kitchen's tidy. And this rushing around can stress your nervous system and it can make you fatigued, and that can affect the way you feel the first few days that you're away on holiday.

Eating too much of the wrong thing?

If you're doing the all-inclusive or the cruises, there is, unfortunately, the temptation to eat too much of the wrong things. There might be all those lovely fresh salads, but there's also all those lovely cakes. And I know, for me, I don't normally eat cakes or biscuits when I'm at home, but when I'm on holiday, they're such a great temptation, all these lovely calorie-laden cakes, and it's just very difficult to resist them.

Alcohol

We've also got the alcohol, as well, and you know, even if you maybe drink once or twice a week when you're at home, when you're on these types of holiday, again, we're going to be drinking every day. You know, I don't drink a lot when I'm at home, but on holiday, especially if it's hot, I love a nice little bit of lager for lunchtime and some wine in the evening. And I do find, if I overdo it, then that can actually trigger a little bit of anxiety. So, this is one that, you know, we need to watch at this particular point.

Prickly heat

There's also prickly heat. A lot of women find that they get prickly heat. Most of this will be due to dehydration, but it can also be due just to that sudden hit of heat as we get out of the airplane. So, there's things you can do about that before you go away on holiday.

Preparation

So, it's a good idea, when you're going away on holiday, regardless of whether it's going to be an active one, or whether it's going to be a relaxing one, is to do a little bit of preparation.

Make sure you have what you need

So, number one, if you take supplements or herbs for your hot flushes, night sweats, or any other menopausal symptoms, make sure that you take enough with you. I have been caught out several times. I've ended up on holiday, realised I've forgotten something that's been quite important to my daily health regime, and it has made quite a difference. So, make sure you take all your tablets with you, and maybe just a few extra to spare just in case something extra happens.

Prepare for prickly heat

If you're getting prickly heat, then start at least a week beforehand to up your water intake, and you can take nettle tincture. Nettle is a lovely natural antihistamine and it can work really well. And, again, remember to take it with you when you go. If you get really stuck, if you go on holiday and you end up with a bit of prickly heat, and you hadn't taken any nettle with you, then try and find some nettle tea, and have at least two to three cups of that a day. And remember the extra water, as well.

Don't leave things till the last minute

Don't leave things until the last minute. Try and make the last week before you go on holiday as relaxing and as calming as you possibly can. That will make a huge difference. I know all my colleagues laugh at me at work because I'm usually packed and ready to go about three weeks before I leave, but I find that if I get everything ready, just a quick double-check before I go, and I haven't had an exhausting week, and it makes such a difference because I'm excited about going on holiday instead of thinking, "Oh, thank goodness, I'm disappearing or going somewhere."

Milk thistle complex

If you are going on the all-inclusive holidays or the cruises, and you know that you're going to be doing a little bit of overindulging either in the food or the drinks department, a week before you go, start off with the milk thistle complex. This is a lovely remedy that helps to support liver function, and it can be a really nice one just to lift you up because you might find that when you go on these types of holidays, that when you come back, you just think, "Wait a minute. I've been relaxing all week," and you come back and you feel tired. And the reason for that is that your poor old liver has not had a holiday during that week. So, milk thistle is a great one. Again, remember to take it with you and have one or two doses a day.

Eat well

When you're away, do eat well. Enjoy all those lovely fresh foods. You know, enjoy the fact that someone else has been doing all the cooking and that you can really eat well for that particular week, and it can make a huge amount of difference. Try and limit the puddings, if possible. I know it's very difficult, and I usually fall the last few days. My willpower usually disappears.

Leave your antiperspirants at home

The other really important thing here is, if you know you're going somewhere hot and you're going to be doing a lot of sweating or perspiring, then don't use antiperspirants because, remember, I have talked about this before. If you use really strong antiperspirants and you go somewhere hot, your body needs to sweat in order to keep the body core at the right temperature. And if you're already prone to hot flushes or night sweats, and you block the pores under your arms, the body has got to find some other means of keeping itself cool. So, you might find that you either sweat a lot more, or else you end up sweating from other parts of the body that you don't usually sweat from. So, when you're on holiday and it's really hot, try and go for some of the natural deodorants rather than the antiperspirants.

Enjoy yourself

But, above all, you know, really enjoy yourself on holiday. It's wonderful if we can get away, and a bit of extra rest and relaxation, and an escape from the daily grind can make a huge difference to all our menopause symptoms.
 
So, I hope you found this one helpful, and I will look forward to seeing you next week for another A.Vogel Talks Menopause.

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Did you know?

You won’t get the menopause the minute you turn 50! The average starting age is actually between 45 and 55 and it can often depend on a number of factors including hereditary, weight and health, however every single woman will have an individual menopause.

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