We all know about fertility trackers and period apps — but where’s the tech solution for all the life-altering discomforts that the UK’s 13 million menopausal women face every day?
The sweats, the brain fog, the sudden panic, the dread of motorway driving, the burning mouth?
Fear not, ladies — as tech-savvy Gen X women (born between 1965 and 1979) hit their menopausal years, app developers and tech engineers are responding with new products to ease symptoms, compare HRT regimens and even boost a flagging libido.
So-called ‘femtech’ is one of the fastest-growing technology sectors out there, predicted to be worth £39 billion by 2025. And it’s not just on your smartphone. Personalised cooling gadgets promise climate control specifically for hot flushes, too. So put the frozen peas away, plug in and chill out with the latest menopause tech. Here, we round up the best.
Instead of reaching for the frozen peas women going through menopause now have more technology at their disposal which is designed to help them cope with the change
SET MENOPAUSE GOALS
What is it? Caria is a free app that helps you track symptoms and offers daily menopause management goals such as healthy eating and mindfulness. There are exercises drawn from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help relieve sleeplessness, hot flushes and anxiety attacks, plus bitesize audio lessons to dip into on all things menopause.
What’s it like? Every day at noon, Caria sends me a phone alert asking me how I’m doing (irritated, but thanks for asking). I head to the Insights page of the app and tick which of the 44 symptoms I’m experiencing, from muscle pain to burning tongue, and what might be triggering them — in my case, the stress of family plus too much caffeine.
Caria is a free app that helps you track symptoms and offers daily menopause goals
I have the option to log my symptoms by voice command using the iPhone virtual assistant Siri and set up a code word to take me discreetly to the tracker. I choose ‘Brad Pitt’, and when I whisper his name breathily into my phone I am spirited to the right page. ‘You have logged constipation, with high intensity!’ announces Siri for all to hear. Handy hint: turn down the volume on your phone.
verdict: A useful toolbox that made me feel more in control of my symptoms by the simple act of having them acknowledged and logged.
The mindfulness exercises are not woo-woo and always explain the science behind them — ‘mindfulness breathing relaxes your nervous system, which helps with the physical symptoms of hot flushes,’ the friendly voice tells me. If you are having a bad day, there’s always something here to make it better.
- Free via joinclio.com
What is it? The Evasmart is a personalised cooler that creates your own 4 sq m microclimate via an app or virtual assistant such as Alexa.
What’s it like? When BBC Breakfast presenter Louise Minchin took the executive decision to crank up the TV studio air-conditioning to its coldest setting, she spoke for menopausal women everywhere, who wage daily war against communal thermostats, windows and duvet togs.
She would doubtless welcome this compact app-controlled gadget, no bigger than a toaster, which works by evaporative cooling. You fill up a water reservoir like a steam iron and then connect the thing via Wi-fi to your phone (or an Alexa if you have one).
Need your own personal air conditioning? Well that’s now possible with a portable air conditioning unit which you can take to work. Evasmart by Evapolar
Depending on the heat and humidity, it claims it can create a drop of up to 14c (57f) — in my 22c (72f) lounge it pumped out air at 16c (61f). It even has customisable mood lighting and a night mode.
verdict: The perfect peacekeeper when it comes to temperature wars. Because the range of cooling is so specific to you, it doesn’t impact on your husband or colleagues at work.
It’s relatively stylish and cools very fast and with very little noise. The only annoyance is that it never remembers your Wi-fi password and you often have to reconnect.
FIND YOUR TRIBE
What is it? The MegsMenopause free app from former PR Meg Mathews allows you to join a community of women online, share experiences and learn more about symptoms.
What’s it like? Meg has garnered a huge following on her website and Instagram feed for starting an honest conversation around the menopause that began with her own difficulties in getting doctors to recognise her symptoms. She’s tried everything and isn’t afraid to (over)share.
On the app you will find personal videos by Meg on each of 34 symptoms and a useful questionnaire you can take to your doctor to help them determine whether you are menopausal and could benefit from treatment.
The MegsMenopause free app helps to track symptoms and offers you a platform to converse with others suffering the same thing
There is a symptom tracker and Meg’s podcast episodes with renowned doctors and experts. And a community page where you can share experiences, follow other users and leave comments.
Verdict: Since its launch in March, there have been 6,000 sign-ups and the community chat is lively and supportive, with members sending virtual hugs and commiserating with others over everything from a bad night’s sleep to bladder leaks and low iron.
Meg is Marmite but I find her very entertaining. She says what we are all thinking and her content is well-informed.
- Free on Google Play and the App Store.
BOOST YOUR LIBIDO
What is it? Clarity is an app by UK-based Australian mindfulness practitioner and acupuncturist Becks Armstrong based on the premise that better sleep, relaxation and mindfulness can make the menopause journey easier.
There are visualisations and breathing exercises for specific issues such as low libido and sleeplessness, as well as starting the morning in a positive frame of mind.
What’s it like? Why am I squishing a mandarin segment next to my ear and then putting the rather sorry mess into my mouth? I feel like it’s something I should be doing in a high chair but it’s all part of a libido-boosting audio exercise, the juicy crushing apparently designed to help me connect with my sensual side.
Clarity is an app based on the premise that better sleep, relaxation and mindfulness can make the menopause journey easier
I’m not brave enough to try the follow-up exercise, which demands, well, a rather more intimate squashing. I do, however, like the Instacool visualisation, where you imagine you are in the coldest spot on earth. Another exercise takes me on a gentle walk through nature, and helps me get back to sleep in the small hours (bonus: it’s voiced in a beautiful Scots accent by a man known only as Murray).
verdict: Becks’ no-nonsense but compassionate Aussie delivery takes the cringe factor out of topics such as sex and I like the way the breathing exercises are mirrored by a calming wave effect on screen to help you slow down your breath.
If you are new to mindfulness, there are ten introductory sessions. £5.99 a month after a seven-day free trial. 3/5
What is it? Balance is a free app launched in May by one of the UK’s most respected menopause and perimenopause GPs, Dr Louise Newson, with evidence-based advice and explanations on HRT and its alternatives.
There is an extensive symptom tracker where you can log up to 58 symptoms, including the lesser-known tingling hands and feet, and a community page where you can compare experiences and review the treatments you have tried.
What’s it like? All the articles and explanations come from a trusted medical source and the app collects stats on what has worked for other users.
Balance is a free app that allows users to track symptoms and talk to others about them
I was interested to see that the oestrogen gel and progesterone tablets recommended by my GP were rated highly by other app users, too, while the supplements black cohosh and red clover came out as mostly ineffective.
With lack of sleep an issue for me, I joined 87 other women who had signed up for an in-app sleep experiment (going to bed and waking at the same time every day for seven days) to see if this solution, which works for many women, could work for me too. (Yes, it did.)
verdict: A brilliant and trustworthy free resource that combines medical facts with real-life experiences.
REPORT TO YOUR GP
What is it? The Vergo Woman free menopause app is designed to log your symptoms daily and create weekly email reports which you can pass on to your GP.
What’s it like? When you are menopausal with a busy life, you can barely remember your own name, let alone which of the 30+ symptoms you have had, for how long and when. So how can you have an informed conversation with your doctor?
This app aims to collect data for precisely that purpose. On the back of a detailed questionnaire, the app tracks only the symptoms you are experiencing so it feels very personalised.
Using the Vergo Woman app you can tell your GP what you are experiencing on a daily basis without having to deal with awkward conversations
It was easy for me punch in scores rating mental health or bedroom activity (sleep, sex . . . more like neither). When I tick yes to depression, a little box pops us telling me I should see a doctor.
I’m about to try a new GP and find it very reassuring to have all this information logged in one place in case I end up gibbering at my first appointment.
There is lots of helpful plain-speak advice on topics such as whether cannabidiol oil is good for menopause, and whether it is normal to pee when you sneeze (yes and yes).
verdict: A straight-talking resource that speaks my language — and remembers my name even when I can’t. As all the case studies are Canadian, it can feel a little more remote — but that did not worry me.