Putting the Pause in Menopause: Q&A with Virgin Pulse Coach on Menopause and Women's Health
- Menopause is unique for each woman and can be an opportunity to pause and reflect on your overall health and well-being.
- Support from family, a spouse or partner can help you make lifestyle changes, or adjust to new experiences.
- If you are a HealthFlex participant, Virgin Pulse Coaching can help support you during menopause, health issues and more.
For many women who are in their 40s or older, menopause is an experience fraught with uncertainty and anxiety. From the physical changes many people assume are universal, such as hot flashes and night sweats, to the emotional, social and spiritual effects, it's a major change that more than half the population will experience during their lifetime.
Laura Burr, a senior health coach with Virgin Pulse, wants to help ease some of this stress and invites women to view menopause as an opportunity.
"I like the 'pause' in menopause because it's really the time to reflect on where you have been in life and look at what you want for the next part of life," Burr said.
Wespath spoke with Burr to discuss some common questions about menopause, women's health and how to find support.
What are the first things women often notice as they begin to enter menopause?
During perimenopause (when a woman's body starts making the transition to menopause) there might be the symptoms of shortened menstrual cycle length. It might be light. It might be heavy. It might be an extended cycle length. It completely depends on the person. Or women might notice changes in sleep patterns. They might notice changes in cravings for foods. They might notice the hot flashes and then dryness because of not producing as much progesterone.
I would love to be able to say how long it lasts, but again, it's different for each person because it will depend on their health history, their family history and stress levels.
In your experience, what surprises women the most about menopause?
I think it's the unpredictability of it. You can ask all these questions of what worked for one person or what worked for the next person, but really, it's honing in on what your life experience has been. What is our body saying to us? Our body speaks through symptoms. What is it trying to tell us for the next phase and chapter of our lives? That's often where the coaching piece comes in.
As a coach with Virgin Pulse, what would you say to a client who comes to you with questions on how to approach menopause, or someone who is beginning to experience symptoms of menopause?
When they come to the coaching call, they might be listed under menopause, but I don't know what they're going to say. I would observe and listen and ask, "What is your experience?" They might say, "This is what's going on. I'm having hot flash after hot flash." And I'll ask more questions to help them address their experience—is it cooling bedsheets, foods with vitamin E, electrolytes, staying hydrated, talking with your medical provider? What works with your lifestyle?
Or they might say, "I don't know. My experience is ..." Again, it's going to be different for everybody. So, a big part of coaching is that they're able to take that time to think, "When I'm eating something, how does it make me feel? How are my hormones making me feel? What am I noticing with each day, with each passing week? What are the emotions?"
What we can do is really manage the stress. Even if nothing is emotionally stressful, sometimes just the physiological stress of the body saying, "Hey, we're changing here. We're not making estrogen here. We need to change things over." So, it's managing that.
I'll ask about how are you eating foods to help support your emotional health? How would we become accepting of how the body is changing inside, but also outside? How are you reaching out to others, family, to support all the dimensions of wellness?
It's really listening to what their experience is and then a follow-up coaching call. How was that small step? What's the next little thing? And the next little thing? And it's also just being patient with the process and really getting to an understanding of it.
What other health issues should women at this stage of life be aware of?
In addition to tests like annual mammograms after 40 and annual colonoscopies after 45, bone health is going to be very important. Eating foods that nourish bone health, exercising, weightlifting exercises. The other piece is digestive health and insulin resistance, and that would be the liver.
It might seem a little bit unusual, but it's looking at the role of liver health and digestive health with managing menopause, too.
The liver is where your stored energy is. That's where the hormones are made. And the liver determines what's going to happen with sugars. It also creates bile and it helps to support those fat-soluble vitamins—A, E and D.
How can a woman's spouse, partner, or family help support her during this time?
It's hopefully being open and honest and comfortable with these conversations, because not everybody necessarily wants to talk about these things. It's nice that it's coming up a little bit more in media, and it's part and parcel of biology.
Listening is essential. Be open to the idea that the food on the table might change a little bit because we need to have certain nutrients or foods—but they're all yummy foods. Be accepting that things might change around food, be willing to go for walks, be willing to understand if somebody needs time for themself.
Virgin Pulse Coaching 101
Who can use a Virgin Pulse Coach and how much does it cost?
HealthFlex particpants and covered spouses can use Virgin Pulse Coaching at no cost.
What topics can I speak with a Virgin Pulse Coach about?
Coaches are available to talk about a vast array of well-being and health topics including, but not limited to, getting active, eating healthy, anxiety and depression, infertility, reducing stress, managing weight, being tobacco free, sleeping well and being mindful about money.
Can I talk about more than one topic?
Yes. You don’t have to work with multiple coaches to discuss different areas. Virgin Pulse values the relationship between you and your coach and wants you to have the opportunity to continue working with the same person.
Are these conversations confidential?
Yes. Confidentiality is essential, and all conversations are covered by HIPAA.
How do I schedule an appointment with a Virgin Pulse Coach?
Log into Virgin Pulse, click on "Health," then click "Coaching" and "Schedule a Session."
How Can a Virgin Pulse Coach Help Me?
Virgin Pulse Coaching is a confidential, judgment-free space for working on your health and well-being goals for HealthFlex participants. Your coach will partner with you to help bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be. This can be exploring what habits are most important to you, building entirely new habits or being consistent with existing ones.
Coaches come from a mix of backgrounds and experiences—including nurses, nutritionists, personal trainers, financial coaches, emotional health coaches, psychologists, social workers and more—that inform how they work as a coach.
Earn up to 150 Wellness Credits and $150 with Virgin Pulse Coaching
Each time you have a session with a Virgin Pulse Coach, you’ll earn 25 Wellness Credits (up to 150 Wellness Credits). Once you earn 150 Wellness Credits, you’ll receive $150!