Menopause provides a number of avenues through which manufacturers can offer this population assistance given the range of symptoms.
Women’s health is a growing product category as more consideration is placed on women’s health needs across multiple life stages. Menopause support in particular is getting a lot of attention and new product development as women become more outspoken about their experiences with menopause. Menopause also provides a number of avenues through which manufacturers can offer this population assistance given the range of symptoms such as mood swings, hot flashes, hair loss, and bone health.
According to Gen M, an organization based in the UK whose mission to help make menopause a positive experience, an estimated 1 billion globally will experience menopause by 2025, and because this natural transition in life can have 48 different symptoms and last up to 12 years for 10% of women, the experience can be confusing and difficult to navigate. A white paper published by Gen M found that 94% of perimenopausal and menopausal women believed they “would benefit from brands being more inclusive and catering better to menopausal women.”
IFF Health (Londerzeel, Belgium) recently partnered with Gen M, commiting to develop product concepts that target perimenopausal and menopausal women with its portfolio of botanicals and probiotics. At this year’s Vitafoods Europe, IFF deliver six concepts targeting a range of menopause symptoms that were developed with the help of internal focus groups.
“It's amazing how women really want to talk about [menopause], and the moment that you give them an opportunity, they are willing to, they really want to share their experience,” said Maider Gutierrez, health category leader for IFF Health. These concepts included products that help alleviate physical symptoms such as feminine intimate health, beauty, and mobility, as well as mood and cognitive health.
Gutierrez explains that because everyone experiences menopause differently and symptoms change over time, a one-size-fits-all solution is not ideal for this category. For example, while physical symptoms like hot flashes are very well known, psychological symptoms like mood swings, brain fog, and insomnia are very commonly experience symptoms as well. The fluctuation of these symptoms can also be rather dramatic. The whitepaper from Gen M, for example, found that 30% of perimenopausal women say they are currently experiencing brain fog or memory loss, but only 8% of menopausal women say they are currently experiencing those symptoms.
Kerry Group (Tralee, Ireland) also has a diverse portfolio of ingredients that can help manufacturers meet that demand for menopause products. With Kerry’s acquisition of Biosearch Life (Madrid, Spain) in July of 2021, its portfolio contains Luprenol, a Hops extract standardized in 8-Prenylnaringenin, a potent phytoestrogen that offers relief from symptoms of menopause. Kerry also has adaptogenic ingredients such as Sensoril Ashwagandha from its acquisition of Natreon (New Brunswick, NJ) in April of 2022 which can provide support for stress and mood. The company’s probiotic portfolio can also be leveraged to offer microbiome support since there is more and more acceptance of the gut-brain axis concept, and the influence our gut health can have on mood and other aspects of brain heatlh.
Recent research from AB-Biotics (Barcelona, Spain) that has not yet been peer-reviewed also found evidence that probiotics may have an impact on estrogen levels. Through in vitro screenings, the company found a probiotic strain (L. Brevis KABP 052) that had the strongest impact on gut microbial beta-glucuronidase (GUS) enzymes, which are enzymes essential for the reactivation of estrogen. During menopause, estrogen levels deplete, which are what causes menopause symptoms. AB-Biotics found that compared to placebo, menopausal women taking the probiotic experienced significantly higher levels of estrogen. The results did not show a correlation between menopause symptoms and estrogen levels, but results show promise and warrant further investigation.
As women become more vocal about their experiences with menopause, industry will only get more sophisticated in its product offerings, providing women the assistance necessary to navigate this confusing stage of life.