Women have suffered years of neglect by the conventional healthcare system – with symptoms dismissed and trivialized, inconsistent treatment and a lack of research –  so we’re vastly overdue for a change, says Jane Wolfe

One of the missions of International Women’s Day (IWD) this year was to, as the hashtag stated, #EmbraceEquity in women’s healthcare: “Women comprise nearly half of the global population and have a significant influence on the wellbeing of their families, communities
and economy,” says IWD.

“Yet there’s worldwide disparity in women’s healthcare and … widespread gender bias still persists.” This, despite women being at higher risk of ‘some of the most challenging’ health conditions. 

“The overall consequence of gender bias in healthcare is that women receive worse care than they should, which increases their health inequity. The lack of inclusivity in medical research has led to gaps in knowledge, so this means doctors know less about women’s and trans health than male health. Additionally, when doctors do not take women’s symptoms seriously, this delayed diagnoses can keep women from receiving a correct diagnosis for many years.” This, IWD stresses, has led to women no longer trusting in medical professionals.

“There’s worldwide disparity in women’s healthcare … widespread gender bias still persists”

Kate Bermingham, postdoctoral researcher/nutrition academic lead at King’s College London and health science firm ZOE Ltd, agrees there’s a lack of research in all areas of female health. Speaking during the CosmeticsDesign Europe and NutraIngredients’ Menopause Beauty and Wellbeing webinar, she said: “We need to focus now on women-specific issues like menopause, where they have traditionally been under-represented in important clinical trials. With growing awareness, we are now starting to direct our attention towards menopause, and as women spend about a third of their lives in a post-menopausal state, it’s a huge area we need to be concentrating our resources on. 

“In terms of research, there is more funding going into menopause, but it is still underfunded. There are a lot of important questions that we still don’t understand about female health.”

The extent to which women’s health has been sidelined is evident from the fact that NHS doctors in England will only start receiving mandatory teaching and assessments distinctly centred around women’s health from the 2024/2025 academic year. The move follows feedback to Government that the system doesn’t listen to women when they ask for help with their healthcare and there exists a lack of understanding of women-specific conditions among the very professionals whose job it is to treat them.

Heart breaking
One area of concern for menopausal women is coronary heart disease, which kills twice as many women as breast cancer in the UK – over 24,000 die each year (an average of 65 women each day). Yet women are massively underrepresented when it comes to clinical trials; historically, two-thirds of all clinical cardiovascular research is carried out on men.

The risk increases during menopause partly because the body produces less oestrogen which is thought to protect the heart and arteries, where it reduces the build-up of fatty plaque.

Dr Rebeccah Tomlinson, GP at supplement brand Health & Her, highlights the fact that menopausal women often see weight gain around their middle – a sign of an increase in visceral fat. “This type of fat surrounds the internal organs and contributes to high blood pressure, elevated blood cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes – all risk factors for heart disease,” she says. 

 As well as regular exercise, reducing alcohol consumption and eating a healthy, balanced diet, she recommends increasing omega-3 intake as this is linked to lowering triglycerides, improving blood circulation, preventing clots, lowering blood pressure and maintaining a steady heart rhythm. “Vegetable oils, nuts and seeds and oily fish such as sardines, salmon and mackerel are the best sources of omega-3, so make sure they are factored into your diet whenever possible,” she says. “Or take an omega-3 supplement daily, and if you prefer not to consume fish oil there are options for vegan supplements which use algal oil, arguably a better primary source of omega-3.”

Health & Her’s Vegan Omega+ 3,6,7 & 9 is one such supplement designed to support wellbeing during perimenopause, menopause and post menopause in four ways by supporting brain, vision, heart and cholesterol levels with a blend of evening primrose, sea buckthorn, linseed and algal oils.

It is true that the conversation around women’s health has made huge strides, progressing from hushed whispers to strong, informed debate in some quarters, particularly within the natural health arena, where menopause is openly discussed, menstruation is tackled with honesty and authenticity and fertility issues are talked about frankly. Attitudes are being revised, but tangible action is required to facilitate permanent and positive societal change. 

Menopause matters
Let’s take the menopause as an example. A survey by Health & Her unearthed that 54% of UK women find stressors at work – deadlines, presentations, even social events – are a major trigger for perimenopause symptoms. “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,” says Tomlinson. “With 4.4 million perimenopausal or menopausal women currently in the workplace, finding ways to help them manage stress to minimize triggering symptoms is important to keep women in the workforce, and it’s not surprising that one in ten leave the workplace.”

In July 2022, in an attempt to hasten the Government’s ‘glacial progress’ on menopause support, the Women and Equalities Committee urged it to trial ‘menopause leave’ in England and make menopause a protected characteristic under the Equality Act. “51% of the population will experience menopause. Yet for too long, too many people experiencing menopause have struggled with social stigma … [and] workplace detriment and discrimination,” the committee stated. “The current law does not serve or protect menopausal women.” In January – in a response MP and committee chair Caroline Nokes said ‘smacks of a lack of urgency and commitment’ – ministers rejected the proposals, claiming ‘specific menopause leave may be counterproductive’.

Instigating change
With Government declining to act, the onus is on individual companies to take the initiative. One early adopter is Bank of Ireland Group which recently announced it will offer up to ten days paid leave a year for employees experiencing menopause-related symptoms and provide training for managers on how to support colleagues going through menopause.

Another positive move is the launch this year of GenM’s menopause-friendly symbol to its 70 partners, including HotTea Mama and cycle care brand FEWE. The M-tick symbol aims to clearly highlight products and services that may help support 48 menopause symptoms, such as fatigue, night sweats joint pain and brittle nails. 

“We call menopause ‘the change’ because it can change everything when you go through it, from nutrition to cosmetics, and even the clothes you might wear,” says Heather Jackson, co-founder of GenM. “Many at this life stage are busy and time poor, so the symbol helps to signpost suitable products easily and simply. It’s also important to remember that, while HRT is a great option for some, it is not a silver bullet for menopause and it doesn’t work for everyone. In fact, GenM’s Opportunity Report revealed that 49% of menopausal women have no intention of taking HRT at all, so it is vital that those who don’t use it (for whatever reason) are also able to easily access helpful products.

It’s also important to remember that, while HRT is a great option for some, it is not a silver bullet for menopause and it doesn’t work for everyone

“Look how much money and effort goes into catering to the vegan market – a lifestyle choice that makes up less than 4% of the UK – compared to the 20% of the population who are in menopause right now! This audience is just as deserving of signposting to products, informative and uplifting campaigns, and an improved customer experience. We founded GenM after beginning ‘the change’ and being shocked by the lack of information and support available.”

With women’s health becoming a louder conversation, it’s no surprise that celebrities are becoming embroiled in it, and as they can seem more relatable than health professionals, women are taking notice. For example, during the month that Channel 4 aired Davina McCall’s documentary Sex, Myths and the Menopause in which she promoted the use of testosterone for low libido, there was a 52% increase in women aged 50 being prescribed the hormone. 

This was dubbed the ‘Davina effect’ and led to experts advising caution, with Paula Briggs, chair of the British Menopause Society, voicing concerns. “Women are being led to believe that it’s the missing piece of the jigsaw, that it’s going to be the solution to their relationship problems, and I think we have to be much more scientific about how that information is provided for women,” she said. “It’s coming from celebrities and politicians, and that’s not necessarily appropriate.”

It’s doubtful then that Briggs would be happy with Kourtney Kardashian’s claims that her Lemme Purr supplement, with vitamin C, probiotics and pineapple, changes the taste of the vagina – ‘turn it into a sweet treat’, she advised on Instagram. Speaking to BBC Newsbeat, A&E doctor Maddy Dann reacted: “Every person with a vulva or vagina is going to have a different odour … what this product suggests is that every woman needs to have the same tasting, the same smelling vagina … and that’s just not realistic.
If your odour or your discharge changes, you need to see a GP or a gynaecologist – not a Kardashian.”

Self check-out
A 2022 breast cancer survey by Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) to mark the 30th anniversary of its pink ribbon Breast Cancer Campaign found a staggering 78% of UK women don’t check their breasts regularly and a third never check themselves. The least likely to self-check were South Asian women (63%), women under 40 (69%) and Black women (76%), with 21% of South Asian women fearing their community or family would judge them if they knew they were regularly checking their breasts. 24% of Black women said they don’t regularly self-check due to lack of education from older female relatives, with 14% not feeling comfortable touching their breasts. 

“Our research shows there are still communities that feel under-represented and are not engaged in breast cancer campaigns, so it is more important than ever to increase the visibility of these under-represented groups,” says The ELC UK & Ireland president Sue Fox. 

To help address this disparity, the company has appointed four UK and Ireland ambassadors to help spread awareness of the importance of regular self-checking among under-represented communities.

Breaking the cycle
Last year, ahead of the Women’s Euro 2022, Cumbrian Team GB Olympian badminton player and Mooncup ambassador Lauren Smith called for a shift in conversation around menstruation, saying that female athletes could perform better if their training was adjusted to fit their menstrual cycle.

“The week before my period I generally feel stronger and hit more personal bests in the gym,” she said. “Together with my coach we’ve identified the days when I can do more, as well as days when we might need to take a part of the programme out.”

In an ideal world, I would love to have thought ‘I will wear a white skirt and if I have a leak, I have a leak

Highlighting another issue, Smith said in 2020 when she agreed to wear an all-white kit, the possibility of being on her period weighed on her mind. “In an ideal world, I would love to have thought ‘I will wear a white skirt and if I have a leak, I have a leak. That’s totally normal … It’s not shameful. It’s not gross.’ But it goes against everything that we’ve grown up learning.”

Thankfully, this year has already seen a number of taboo-busting crusades focusing on menstruation, including ohne’s nationwide OOH campaign based on Google keyword searches, including one billboard asking, ‘Am I dying or am I on my period?’ which states there were more than nine million searches for period-related support in 2022. 

And coinciding with its ‘No More Period Dramas’ campaign to destigmatize conversations around periods and make people feel ‘crazy confident about one of life’s messiest moments’, menstrual care brand Here We Flo unveiled a huge month-long window display at Whole Foods Kensington on 8 March to celebrate International Women’s Day – the first time the retailer has ever had a period care brand in the window.


Geranium Rose & Petitgrain ‘Regain Your Glow Trio’

La Femme Verte Limited
Tel: 07549 554926
E-mail:  [email protected]

To coincide with the Natural & Organic Trade Show in April, La Femme Verte are launching their Geranium Rose & Petitgrain ‘Regain Your Glow Trio’. This gorgeous collection consists of 3 full size products created especially to care for peri and menopause skin, and soothe and calm the nervous system. 

Worth £105 when bought individually, this £79 set will gently cleanse and soften, hydrate and moisturise, and nourish and strengthen your skin, in a few blissful moments of restoration and rebalance.

What’s included?
Award winning Radiance Day Cream 50 ml
Nourish & Glow Joyous Facial Serum 30 ml
Gentle Oil to Milk Cleanser with Jojoba 100 ml


The MenoShake – Vegan Vanilla

Girl Power Nutrition Ltd t/a BOMIMO
Tel: 07823 384394
E-mail:  [email protected]

The MenoShake – Vegan Vanilla is an all-in-one, plant-protein shake reinforced with a high strength multi-vitamin and mineral complex, 12 herbal ingredients, pre and probiotics, specifically formulated to support women coping with discomforts commonly associated with perimenopause and menopause. Packed with 30 ingredients including phytoestrogen red clover, adaptogens wild yam, ginseng, reishi mushroom, maca powder and ksm66 ashwagandha, metabolism boosting ingredients green tea and cinnamon bark, and pre and probiotic for gut health. Formulated from sustainably sourced ingredients, its versatile, delicious and contains just 60 calories per 20g serving, is low in sugar, high in protein, lactose and GMO free. 


Pro-Ven Probiotics Women’s 

Vega Nutritionals Ltd T/A Pro-Ven Probiotics
Tel: 07734 908367
E-mail:  [email protected]

Pro-Ven Women’s Lactobacillus & Bifidus with Cranberry contains three Lactobacillus strains – two Lactobacillus acidophilus strains and Lactobacillus gasseri, which is a key part of the vaginal flora.
Each one-a-day capsule contains 17.5 billion live bacteria, combining the Lab4 consortium of bacteria with Lactobacillus gasseri. Each capsule also contains cranberry extract and vitamin B6, which contributes to the regulation of hormonal activity.
Key features: High-strength friendly bacteria designed specifically for women
Contains Lab4 friendly bacteria with Lactobacillus gasseri, which forms a normal part of the vaginal flora. Contains cranberry extract for further support
Contains vitamin B6 which contributes to the regulation of hormonal activity.
Single capsule per day.


Supplements for immunity, energy, stress & sleep. No fillers or excipients

Unbeelievable Health
E-mail:  [email protected]

Unbeelievable Health is one of the only supplement brands combining plant-based ingredients which have studies behind their use. They are free from allergens, fillers and excipients. The targeted all-in-one formulas have been researched and formulated by nutritionists incorporating nutrients of the highest quality which are not usually found in a regular diet or multivitamin such as propolis, lion’s mane mushroom, passion flower, lemon balm, reishi, rhodiola, elderberry, bee pollen and much more.

The concentrated formulas incorporate therapeutic amounts of active ingredients so fewer are required. They’ve won over 30 industry awards, including recently- Environmental Hero in the 2023 Your Healthy Living Awards and a coveted Health Food Business Best Supplement Award for Bee Prepared daily immune. Consumer reviews are outstanding.

Each supplement (for immunity, hay fever, energy, stress/ anxiety & sleep) contains different ingredients so they may be taken together if desired. Capsule contents may be opened into juices and food for those who don’t like swallowing pills. They are made in the UK a top GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) facility under the highest quality control. 

Bee prepared immune formulas (daily defence & max strength) are ideal to take daily or as needed, and contain ingredients with natural antibiotic and antiviral properties. They’re also helpful for hay fever as several ingredients have antihistamine properties. Suitable for most ages.

Bee calm anxiety and stress support contains 8 ingredients shown to help ease tension, agitation and worry and to help lift low moods. 

Bee Rested sleep support 9 ingredients shown to help one nod off faster and wake up less in the night, feeling refreshed the next day.

Bee energised energy & focus contains ingredients shown to help fight fatigue and brain fog. Helpful for fitness training, when run down, long covid, jet lag, menopause, exams or after an illness


Organyc Organic Cotton Period Products

Pravera Ltd
Tel: 01557 870203
E-mail:  [email protected]

Organyc period products are made with a 100% certified organic cotton top sheet and a highly absorbent 100% certified organic cotton core. The hypoallergenic and breathable pads are anatomically designed to adapt to the contours of your body with protective wings to give maximum security from leaks. Due to their 100% organic cotton construction, the pads and liners are kind to the skin and suitable for everyone, including people with irritable and sensitive skin. The pocket line products are individually folded and wrapped in a biodegradable Mater-bi (a bioplastic derived from corn starch) pouch, making them handy to carry on the go!



HealthAid Ltd
Tel: 020 8426 3400
E-mail: [email protected]

MenoVital® – Take the misery out of menopause
One the most challenging stages of a woman’s life is the menopause, levels of female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone begin to fall during this time. This can cause unpleasant symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, irritability, mood swings and depression. MenoVital® is one of the most comprehensive Menopause products on the market. It consists of: 16 essential ingredients including: Soy Isoflavones, Flaxseed, Siberian Ginseng extract and Starflower to help the body maintain overall health and well being during the mid life change.
MenoVital® from HealthAid retails at £14.99 for 60 tablets. Contact HealthAid Ltd on 020 8426 3400 for purchase and stockist information or visit www.healthaid.co.uk   


Iron Assist

Dome Vitamins

Dome Iron Assist (Dark/Milk chocolate) is the best way to boost your iron levels. Each dome contains 12 mg of microencapsulated iron infused in luxurious artisanal chocolate that melts in the mouth. It also contains the goodness of Vitamin C and B complex to combat fatigue. These domes are super gentle on your tummy and inject 80% of your daily iron requirement with the goodness of chocolate that would instantly uplift your mood. With no unpleasant aftertaste of iron, these domes taste divine. The cocoa is fair trade certified and there are no artificial fillers. Gluten free, vegetarian.


Mother’s Day Moments 

English Tea Shop (UK) Ltd
Tel: 01268 906250
E-mail:  [email protected]

Our Mother’s day Moments are specially crafted for all the wonderful moms out there to make this day extra special as lovely and perfect as they are.  It is a 32-sachet collection of 3 revitalizing blends consisting of White Tea, Blueberry & Elderflower, Cranberry, Hibiscus & Rosehip and Ceylon Cinnamon. This wonderful tea gift is a warm surprise of a handful of blends filled with fruity and floral notes with a tint of spiciness giving a boost of flavor and nutrients.

As fans of Mother Nature, we make English Tea Shop tea bags, boxes and outer packaging fully compostable. Our tea bags are staple-free, and sachets are recyclable.


Natural Soap Selection – Floral & Fruity

Friendly Soap
Tel: 01422 400282
E-mail:  [email protected]

Discover this new soap selection – Floral & Fruity with four naturally scented, eco soap bars in one recycled package. Handmade in Yorkshire. Orange & Grapefruit, Lavender, Ylang Ylang and Rose Geranium bars deliver a gentle luxurious experience, free from preservatives and sulfates. Help care for your skin while supporting a cruelty free and vegan lifestyle. Friendly Soap is a living wage employer, with a Fair Tax Mark, registered with Cruelty Free International and The Vegan Society.



Lanes Health
Tel: 01452 524012
E-mail:  [email protected]

Natural Nordic Energy* – The only supplement formulated with Nordic blueberries, BlueIron is highly bioavailable and fast-working. Its patented micro-encapsulated iron means it’s easily absorbed and gentle on the stomach. BlueIron provides the full recommended intake of iron for renewed energy*, focus and natural vitality. Every bottle of BlueIron contains vitamins combined with Nordic blueberry concentrate for a great flavour, avoiding the unpleasant taste and side-effects often associated with other iron products. It is also suitable for vegetarians, vegans and includes no artificial colours.
BlueIron will make a strong addition to health food stores’ existing vitamin and supplement category.
*BlueIron contains naturally-sourced Nordic blueberries for flavour plus Iron which contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue. Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. 



Wholesale Health Ltd
Tel: 01606 889905
E-mail: [email protected]

Good Health Naturally’s SerraPlus+™ combines serrapeptase, MSM and trace minerals. Serrapeptase is a well-known proteolytic enzyme, often recommended to women to support fertility. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and can also help clear unwanted scar tissue from the body. The addition of MSM helps with absorption and assists in the softening and clearing of any unwanted scar tissue in the fallopian tubes. Trace minerals have become known as “The Missing Link of Nutrition,” vital for health but often depleted in the diet. SerraPlus+™ can be an important addition to any women’s health protocol. Vegan. 60 Capsules.


Yogi Tea® Women’s Balance Organic

Yogi Tea distributed by Euro Food Brands
Tel: 01604 821200
E-mail: [email protected]

The natural rhythm of our body is a harmony that we should listen to with rapt attention. If we are mindful, we can finely balance it before it gets out of synch. YOGI TEA® Women’s Balance has been composed with raspberry leaves, lemon verbena and a pinch of cinnamon to support the female cycle and give balance. Gentle and graceful, this is the tea for everyone who wants to reward themselves with balance.
For a perfect brew, pour 250 ml of freshly boiled water over the teabag and allow to infuse for 7 minutes, or longer for a stronger flavour.


Ashwagandha & Rhodiola Complex

Higher Nature
Tel: 0800 458 4747
E-mail:  [email protected]

Boost resilience, reduce feelings of being overwhelmed and rebalance the mind for the ultimate sense of calm. Ashwagandha is known as the ‘king of herbs’ in Ayurvedic medicine due to its ability to help rebalance the body and mind and is perfect for keeping you supported through the challenges peri and post menopause throw at you. Anyone suffering with tiredness, fatigue or poor mental performance this one’s for you. A unique blend of Ayurvedic favourites Ashwaganda and Rhodiola help us manage and promote feelings of balance, whilst vitamin C and B5 support the nervous system and psychological function. Available to purchase directly from Higher Nature, Suma and CLF – RRP £17.95


Nature’s Answer  UT Answer 

Kinetic Natural Products Distributor
Tel: 08450 725 825
E-mail:  [email protected]

Modern science has discovered that D-Mannose acts as a ‘decoy’, attracting microbes away from the bladder wall, while cranberry decreases microbe’s ability to adhere to the bladder wall and urinary tract lining. Cranberry has been used by traditional herbalists for centuries to help relieve urinary tract discomfort. Together, they act as a “dynamic duo” to support urinary tract health. Nature’s Answer  UT Answer delivers D-Mannose along with super concentrated cranberry, in a delicious fast acting liquid formula, further enhanced with Quik-Sorb, a blend of ginger rhizome, amla fruit, capsicum fruit, for maximum absorption. Holistically balanced, each ingredient’s botanical footprint is identified for authenticity. Gluten free and vegan.



Lamberts Healthcare Ltd
Tel: 01892 554313
E-mail:  [email protected]

Women’s health is becoming more prevalent in society as practitioners are starting to learn about the importance of guiding women through specific stages of their lives (such as menstruating or the menopause).  Lamberts have created a unique multivitamin and mineral formula, especially developed for all women of menstruating age. It provides 21 nutrients, including vitamin B6, and good levels of the trace minerals such as chromium, which contributes to the maintenance of normal blood glucose levels (and may therefore reduce sugar cravings), iodine, and zinc. Plus, this product contains clinically relevant levels of the macrominerals, magnesium and calcium.


Neubria – Neu Phase

[email protected]

Neu Phase is a daily multivitamin designed to support women before, during and after the menopause. It combines vitamins, minerals, active micronutrients and plant extracts to support the mind and body with a natural source of phytoestrogens and hormone-balancing ingredients.



Pukka Herbs
Tel: 08459 640 944
[email protected]

A gentle, organic & sustainably sourced tea blend to help nourish and balance women’s health. Shatavari is often referred to as ‘she who has a hundred husbands’ in Ayurveda because of its strong rejuvenating qualities for the female reproductive organs

How this tea works:
• A rejuvenating tonic for women at all stages of life.
• Helps to balance hormones, reducing menopausal and menstrual symptoms.
• Cooling and calming to restore body and soul.
• Containing shatavari, rose & chamomile flowers, cranberry, hibiscus and vanilla