World Menopause Awareness Day: The impact of stress at work | Connor Broadley

News & Insights | 18th October 2022

World Menopause Awareness Day: The impact of stress at work

By Connor Broadley

Employee Wellbeing

7 Min Read

MEDIA RELEASE from HEALTH & HER, Tuesday 18th October 2022





New research reveals the top 10 most common triggers

exacerbating perimenopause symptoms


There are an estimated 3 million women currently going through perimenopause in the UK, and although symptoms are primarily due to falling sex hormone levels, many of these women are unaware of the way mental health, lifestyle and diet choices can trigger the frequency and severity of their perimenopause symptoms.

The UK’s No.1 perimenopause brand*, Health & Her ( conducted research with women going through perimenopause and found that 80% reported at least one trigger of perimenopause symptoms, with stress at work, caffeine and stressful events being the top three most common[1].

Dr Rebeccah Tomlinson, GP menopause specialist at Health & Her comments: “It’s not surprising to me that stress features twice in the top three and is a major cause of amplifying symptoms felt by women during this time.”

“Stress is a natural physical and psychological reaction to life experiences. In small doses, stress is fine, but when it revs up especially during work, the body goes into fight or flight mode. Your brain signals the release of the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, which prepares your body for action.”

“The reason stress at work is cited so frequently by women is because oestrogen helps maintain cortisol levels, so when oestrogen levels start to drop things go out of balance. It then becomes a vicious circle. The more you stress the more you experience mind, mood and sleep problems. However, all the triggers in the top ten can be easily managed by tracking, so that you can understand how they connect to your symptoms. In doing this you can then start to make changes to your lifestyle, diet, and outlook accordingly.”

Health & Her and Dr Rebeccah Tomlinson goes onto explain the top ten triggers in the UK to help women understand what exactly is going on.

1. Stress at Work

Just over half (54%) of the women reported that stress at work is a major trigger for them. Examples of work stressors might be meeting a tight deadline, presenting in front of clients, attending performance reviews and even company social events. Our research found stress of this nature is most highly correlated to mind and mood symptoms of perimenopause including anxiety, low mood, poor concentration, brain fog and memory loss. With 4.4 million[2] perimenopausal or menopausal women currently in the workplace, finding ways to help them manage stress to minimise triggering symptoms is important to keep women in the workforce, and it’s not surprising that 1 in 10 leave the workplace [3].

2. Stressful Event

These are an unavoidable part of life and research confirms an association between stressful events and worse menopause symptoms[4]. It is not necessarily the event that exacerbates symptoms but how a woman responds to that event. Time and energy spent over-thinking before or after and event can wind up the stress levels, which then has an impact.  Just under half (47%) of the women in our research reported this as trigger alongside anxiety, poor concentration, memory loss and even heart palpitations.

3. Caffeine

2 in 5 women reported they started to experience more sensitivity to caffeine as they progressed through perimenopause. Dr Rebeccah explains why “typically found in tea, coffee and energy drinks, caffeine accelerates your nervous system, increases alertness, and interferes with the absorption of vitamins and minerals.  Whilst it might seem like a good pick me up after a bad night’s sleep, caffeine can also have a detrimental effect on sleep, causing insomnia which is one of the most common symptoms of perimenopause.”

4. Alcohol

4 in 10 women found that they experienced an issue with alcohol tolerance. Alcohol causes the blood vessels to dilate and raise the internal body temperature. Combine this with depleting hormones already disrupting the body’s internal thermostat, and this will lead to more hot flushes and night sweats. Alcohol has also been shown to raise cortisol levels, interrupt sleep, worsen depression, cause mood swings and increase dehydration.

5. Sugar

Sugar posed a moderate issue for one third of the women. Sugary snacks are known to cause rapid high spikes in blood sugar levels. High blood sugar, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome are linked to hot flushes in perimenopausal women[5]. Dips in blood sugar can impact energy and mood levels. These spikes and dips can all lead to a cycle of snacking on quick fix foods that can exacerbate menopausal weight gain. Other symptoms women reported around this issue were bloating, digestive issues and memory loss.

6. Hot Weather

In the research, 34% of women reported hot weather as a severe trigger. Fluctuating hormone levels can make women more sensitive to heat[6]. The hypothalamus is a gland in the brain that helps to regulate our internal temperature, and because of falling oestrogen levels, this regulation can go into turmoil during perimenopause. Hot weather can also interfere with sleep and increase sweating which in turn can cause dehydration which further stresses the body, and stress is the number one trigger to more symptoms! It all becomes a negative cycle of triggers and symptoms.

7. Cold Weather

One third of women found cold weather a trigger, setting off symptoms of joint aches, skin changes, dizziness and digestive issues. Melatonin, also known as the ‘sleep hormone’ has an effect on temperature regulation too. It is very reactive to the light and darkness cues we get during the day and night. The longer hours of darkness also tend to mean we are less active in winter which can have also impact on hormone production and hormone balance. Plus, the shorter days can often exacerbate low mood as limited exposure to sunlight may impact vitamin D production. Cold weather can also affect the immune system, making us more prone to sickness.

8. Fatty Food

The research found fatty foods were reported as a moderate trigger for just under one third (29%) of the women. It has been shown that women who consume a high fat diet (high levels of fats, snacks, oils and sweets) prior to the menopause have higher oestrogen levels than other women with lower fat diets, but their menopause symptoms are much more marked when their internal oestrogen levels drop at the time of the menopause. Conversely, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can have a positive effect on perceived menopause symptoms [7] . Eating cakes, fried foods and pizza, can increase the risk of heart disease, a condition that women are already at greater risk of from the onset of perimenopause. Foods high in trans fats may reduce serotonin production in the brain, leading to depression as well as adversely affecting memory[8].

9. Dietary Changes

Just over 25% of women noted that dietary changes were a mild or moderate trigger for them resulting in digestive issues, bloating and skin related symptoms. Perimenopausal hormone changes can have a big impact on mood and the way we eat can have a big impact on how we feel. A vicious circle can be set off by making poor food choices in an attempt to elevate mood and energy levels, that leads to weight gain and then yo-yo dieting. Add to that general age-related decline in digestive enzymes and stomach acid and that impact on gut bacteria prevalence we can see how the gut begins to struggle to function as efficiently as women journey through perimenopause.

10. Spicy Food

For women who enjoy spicy foods, it might be time to rethink. Just under a quarter (24%) of women found this was a mild trigger that can set off digestive issues, palpitations, and bladder sensitivity. It is also widely known that spicy food can trigger hot flushes in perimenopausal women.  This is because the natural chemicals in chilies, (capsaicin) and black pepper (piperine), dilate blood vessels, and overly dilated vessels will tend to amplify vasomotor symptoms (hot flushes, night sweats).

Top tips for keeping on top of triggers from the Health & Her team

  • Manage stress – Julie Dennis, Health & Hers menopause work coach suggests:
    • Eat your frogs early and the biggest one first – This is a metaphor for tackling the most challenging task of your day – the one you would typically put off. Deal with it early and relax into your day.
    • Avoid perfectionism – 80% is usually enough. So, relax your expectations and accept that striving for perfection isn’t a good use of your time, and is often not a realistic outcome.
    • Review your regular tasks – Free up time by ditching tasks that are no longer relevant. Is there a report you complete on a weekly or monthly basis that lacks value or would be better completed by a colleague?
    • When the going gets tough, the tough get going – Seriously, take a break – five minutes away from your desk can dramatically improve your concentration during the periods you work.


  • Everything in moderation – look at your alcohol and caffeine intake, think about cutting down or stopping altogether – embrace sober October this year. Consider why you reach for that glass of wine or coffee and look to replace it with another positive activity or try alternatives that are caffeine or alcohol free.


  • Track & learn – keep a note of what symptoms you are experiencing and when, see if there is a correlation with known triggers. You can then make changes to your lifestyle, diet, and outlook. The free Health & Her perimenopause and menopause app helps to do both, as well as set up a plan of helpful exercises to help manage stress and reminders to do things like drink more water.


  • Limit and switch – watch your daily intake of sugary and fatty foods and try to cut down on these types of treats to once or twice a week. Switch to wholegrain carbohydrates, low fat and low sugar alternatives. Also, watch out for hidden sugars and fats in food and drinks such as processed foods and alcohol.


  • Show your gut some love – increasing evidence points to the benefits of looking after your gut health with a regular intake of live cultures to build a strong microbiome. This aids digestion, supports healthy hormone production and raises serotonin levels, great for mind and mood. The Health & Her Biome range contains live cultures, vitamins and minerals to help women who are going through perimenopause and menopause who also want a phytoestrogen free supplement.


  • Positive steps – Ensure you get enough daylight by going for a 30-minute walk daily especially in the darker months. Eat a well-balanced diet and try exercising 3-4 times per week. Always take a vitamin D supplement and if your diet is not diverse top up with a quality supplement, like Health & Her Perimenopause Supplement which contains vitamins, minerals and active botanicals to help women who are going through perimenopause.


About Health & Her® ‘Discover You Again’

Created for women, by women. Health & Her launched in 2019 by co-founders, Kate Bache and Gervase Fay, whose mission was to provide every woman going through perimenopause and menopause access to services and products to help them discover themselves again.

Health & Her® is an award-winning website, plus an app that aims to empower women to take control of their menopausal health.  Health & Her cuts through the confusion when it comes to female health and supports women to own their journey through perimenopause and menopause.

Health & Her aim to offer a 360-degree service developed with experts to provide everything from evidence-backed supplements and solutions, expert advice content, to a clinic service and daily symptoms tool and tracker.  All powered by real-time data conducted with thousands of women in the UK.


For more information, please visit


[1] Health & Her research with 55,047 women experiencing perimenopause symptoms, conducted Oct 2020 – Sept 2022

[2] 4.4 million women aged 50–64 in work (ONS 2019)

[3] Health& Her Workplace study of 1000 women, Censuswide March 2019