Going through menopause is often seen as an inevitable part of aging for women. But a study reveals that menopausal symptoms take a major toll on women's quality of life, work productivity, and healthcare costs.
According to data from the 2005 National Health and Wellness Survey, nearly half of women aged 40-64 experience at least one menopausal symptom. The most frequently reported are hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, forgetfulness, mood changes, and decreased sex drive.
The study found that women with menopausal symptoms had significantly lower mental and physical health compared to women without symptoms. In particular, depression, anxiety, joint stiffness, and a racing heart had the biggest impact on quality of life.
For employed women, menopausal symptoms led to more impairment at work and in daily activities. Joint stiffness was the only symptom directly linked to work productivity loss. Overall, the cluster of symptoms combined led to more missed work time.
Healthcare-wise, women with symptoms reported more doctor visits but similar ER visits and hospitalizations versus symptom-free women. Depression, forgetfulness, and vaginal dryness were tied to more physician appointments.
The array of menopausal symptoms represents a major humanistic and financial burden for midlife women. The findings highlight the need for better management of symptoms to improve women's quality of life and productivity during this transitional phase.
While menopause is inevitable, the wide-ranging effects on mental and physical health, work, and medical care should not be overlooked.
By spreading awareness and providing better symptom relief, women can feel empowered instead of embarrassed by "the change."
Virtual help at hand?
So how does this all Segway into VR, and how can VR help women going through the menopause?
VR provides immersive simulated environments and experiences that can have a calming, empowering effect. Research indicates that VR can reduce stress and improve mood in depressed patients.
Going through VR relaxation programs allows menopausal women to practice mindfulness meditation, be immersed in serene natural settings, and visualize positive imagery.
This can boost mood, reduce anxiety, and help women emotionally process changes brought on by menopause.
The unique benefits of VR make it an exciting new therapy to help women cope with the mental health impacts of menopause. Not to mention the social support aspect.
More research is still needed, but initial studies show VR is an effective complement to traditional treatments.