News, Culture & Society

What every woman needs to keep fighting fit

Women may be considered more robust about their health (we never talk about ‘woman’ flu) but this perceived stoicism might not be a good thing.

Last year, a Public Health England report found the average woman spends nearly a quarter of her life in poor health compared to a fifth for men.

There are health challenges specific to women and, in turn, an array of products to deal with them. But do they work? Here experts assessed a selection of them, which we then rated.

Unless stated, products are available in High Street pharmacies or online.

 CHECKING FERTILITY

Ovarian Reserve test, £120, letsgetchecked.com

CLAIM: This test measures the level of anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) in your blood, giving an indication of the number of eggs a woman has left. It allows women to gauge how much longer they have to conceive. You prick your finger with the lancet provided, fill a small tube with blood and send it in a pre-paid envelope to be analysed — results are available online in five days.

Ovarian Reserve test, £120, letsgetchecked.com

Ovarian Reserve test, £120, letsgetchecked.com

VERDICT: ‘The hormone AMH is released by the ovaries and levels decline with age as the ovarian reserve — the number of eggs a woman has left — is depleted,’ says Professor Geeta Nargund, a consultant for reproductive medicine services at St George’s Hospital, London and director of the CREATE fertility clinic. ‘Levels of AMH do give a good indication of how many eggs a woman has left.

‘However, this doesn’t necessarily correspond with how likely a woman is to get pregnant. A study published last December found that women with fewer eggs were no less fertile than women with normal ovarian reserves.

‘And, crucially, low AMH wasn’t linked to lower chances of pregnancy. What’s important is that the woman is releasing eggs regularly, which this test does not look at. To assess a woman’s fertility she’d need a scan and medical consultation.’ 1/5

HAIR LOSS

Regaine for women foam, 73ml, £34.99

CLAIM: ‘Clinically proven’ to help hair regrow in eight out of ten women. It contains five per cent minoxidil, a drug shown in studies to help with hair loss.

Regaine for women foam, 73ml, £34.99

Regaine for women foam, 73ml, £34.99

It works by boosting blood flow to the hair follicles and increasing follicle size. You massage half a capful to the affected area once daily (don’t rinse).

VERDICT: ‘One in four women experiences hair loss, often as a result of stress, excessive dieting or pregnancy,’ says Iain Sallis, a trichologist at The Hair Medic Clinic. ‘Genetics also plays a part.

‘Minoxidil is the only product proven in studies to help regrow hair that’s lost from a range of causes, apart from that due to chemotherapy treatment.

‘There is no difference between this and Regaine’s product for men, so it may be cheaper to buy that. It can take six months to see results and if you stop using it, the effects disappear.’ 4/5

INCONTINENCE

Pericoach, £145, shop-uk.pericoach.com

Pericoach, £145, shop-uk.pericoach.com

Pericoach, £145, shop-uk.pericoach.com

CLAIM: A phone-sized sensor that trains you to perform exercises that strengthen your pelvic floor, a band of muscles that supports the bladder and internal organs. You insert the sensor and follow instructions from an app on your phone to squeeze and relax against it. It sends signals wirelessly to the app to help you track your progress.

VERDICT: ‘The pelvic floor can be weakened by pregnancy, childbirth, ageing and the menopause — and this leads to incontinence,’ says Dr Leila Hanna, a consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician at Queen Mary’s Hospital, London.

‘You can strengthen the pelvic floor with training and many GPs and specialists offer advice on how to do it. This is one of many products that strengthen pelvic floor muscles, but it wouldn’t work any better than if the woman did them by herself.’ 3/5

PERIOD PAIN

Feminax Ultra, nine tablets, £4.99

Feminax Ultra, nine tablets, £4.99

Feminax Ultra, nine tablets, £4.99

CLAIM: The active ingredient is naproxen, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that reduces inflammation and pain. It is available at the pharmacy without a prescription and provides relief for up to eight hours.

VERDICT: ‘Naproxen is an effective painkiller, but this is a very expensive way to get relief,’ says Dr Ilan Lieberman, a pain specialist at Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester. ‘One 250mg tablet of naproxen is broadly equivalent to 400mg ibuprofen, so you’re better off buying ibuprofen (about 35p for 16 tablets) and taking two 200mg tablets. It works in the same way.

‘If you had cramps, Buscopan (£3 for 20 tablets), might help — it has an antispasmodic effect and relaxes the cramping muscles in the abdomen. Feminax Ultra does not have this effect.’ 2/5

INFECTIONS

Canesflor probiotics, ten capsules, £15.99

Canesflor probiotics, ten capsules, £15.99

Canesflor probiotics, ten capsules, £15.99

CLAIM: These ‘vaginal capsules’ contain a ‘good’ bacterium called Lactobacillus plantarum, which adheres to the vaginal surface and protects against infections, such as thrush and bacterial vaginosis.

Use one capsule each day for six consecutive days, then one capsule per week, for four weeks.

VERDICT: ‘The vagina contains a natural balance of micro-organisms known as vaginal flora, of which Lactobacilli make up the majority of good bacteria,’ says Dr Hanna. ‘In general, good bacteria help keep down bad bacteria.

‘Lactobacilli help keep the vagina’s pH at its normal level (less than 4.5), which prevents the growth of other potentially harmful organisms.

‘There have been no studies specifically for this product, but probiotics are a well-tested area. Some patients have said they apply probiotic yoghurt in the vagina to treat thrush, with success. This product is perfectly safe and may prevent harmful micro-organisms.’ 3/5

THE MENOPAUSE

Selfcheck menopause test, two tests, £14.99

Selfcheck menopause test, two tests, £14.99

Selfcheck menopause test, two tests, £14.99

CLAIM: This urine test checks whether you have had your last period and reached menopause. It detects the presence of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which controls the menstrual cycle and production of eggs. It gives results in a similar way to a pregnancy test.

VERDICT: ‘When women transition into menopause and the ovaries stop producing oestrogen, FSH levels rise significantly,’ says Dr Louise Newson, a Solihull GP.

‘However, FSH levels can still fluctuate, so this is not a definitive test. If you think you’re going through the menopause and are struggling with symptoms, see your GP.’ 0/5

DRYNESS

Replens MD vaginal moisturiser, six pre-filled applicators, £10.99

Replens MD vaginal moisturiser, six pre-filled applicators, £10.99

Replens MD vaginal moisturiser, six pre-filled applicators, £10.99

CLAIM: This is said to provide soothing moisture to dry vaginal cells for three days. As well as moisturising ingredients such as glycerin and mineral oil, it contains a ‘bio-adhesive’ — a form of glue that allows it to attach to dry cells.

VERDICT: ‘Around 45 per cent of women who have reached the menopause suffer from vaginal atrophy — defined as dryness resulting from a drop in oestrogen,’ says Dr Hanna.

‘It can lead to discomfort, bleeding during sex and, for a small group of women who have never had children, adhesions or scar tissue.

‘We recommend using a moisturiser like this twice a week — applying with the applicator so that it coats the entire vaginal passage. An established, safe, non-hormonal product.’ 5/5

FACIAL HAIR

Homedics Duo Quartz, £149.99

Homedics Duo Quartz, £149.99

Homedics Duo Quartz, £149.99

CLAIM: This emits laser light for fast, long-lasting removal of unwanted hair. Lasers are said to retard hair growth and cause the hair to grow thinner.

VERDICT: ‘One in 14 women will have hirsutism — dark hair in areas where women usually grow fine hair, such as above the lip,’ explains Iain Sallis.

‘A main cause is an imbalance in hormones such as testosterone. This may be triggered by conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome, where cysts grow round the ovaries and cause excessive testosterone production. Facial hair is also common with age due to a reduction in oestrogen.

‘This device fires pulses of light into the hair shaft, heating the follicle and causing it to shed prematurely. With repeated use this can lead to permanent hair removal. Overuse may cause slight redness, but it is safe to use on the face.’ 4/5

CYSTITIS

Cystopurin, six sachets, £5.19 

Cystopurin, six sachets, £5.19

Cystopurin, six sachets, £5.19

CLAIM: Each sachet contains cranberry juice extract, mixed with water to make a cranberry-flavoured drink. The ingredients include potassium citrate which is said to relieve the burning sensation when passing urine and reduce the urge to urinate frequently, both common symptoms of cystitis.

VERDICT: ‘Cystitis is usually caused by a bacterial infection of the bladder and leads to acidic urine which can burn when passing water,’ says Dr Louise Newson.

‘Neutralising the acidic urine will help to relieve the stinging pain and taking Cystopurin as soon as symptoms start will help as potassium citrate reduces the acidity.

‘However, symptoms should resolve by themselves in two to three days and if they don’t then you should see a GP, who may prescribe antibiotics to treat the underlying infection.

‘The cranberry flavour isn’t significant — there’s no evidence that the fruit can fight infections such as cystitis. 3/5

TACKLING EXCESS PERSPIRATION 

Underboob: breast sweat absorber - amazon.co.uk, £11.10

Underboob: breast sweat absorber – amazon.co.uk, £11.10

Underboob: breast sweat absorber – amazon.co.uk, £11.10

CLAIM: This consists of an adjustable elastic strap that fastens under the bustline, which contains a cotton, moisture-absorbing pad — it is designed to prevent sweat marks.

VERDICT: ‘It’s not uncommon to sweat under the breasts — especially if they are large or hang low,’ says Andrew Wright, a professor of dermatology at the University of Bradford. ‘The warm moist area under the overhang of skin is a place where sweat can pool which can be a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus — and lead to skin irritation that creates rashes.

‘If this absorbs excess perspiration and keeps the area reasonably dry, then it could have its uses.’ 2/5



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.