With a growing number of women approaching the age of hormonal changes — by 2025, approximately 1.1 billion women worldwide will have experienced menopause — the travel industry is catering to a new niche: Women who want help dealing with everything from hot flashes to mood swings, with perhaps some classic spa treatments thrown in.
Menopause-centered offerings vary widely, from mindfulness techniques to herbal remedies to nutritional guidance and exercise. Sometimes, the most important activity is just the chance to bond with other women facing the same issues, experts say. “There’s a great healing and discovery when a group of people are going through a similar circumstance,” said Melissa Biggs Bradley, the founder and chief executive of Indagare, a membership-based travel company that recently announced its first midlife and menopause retreat.
At the Six Senses Hotel & Spa in Portugal’s Douro Valley, I recently took part in a three-day bespoke menopause retreat to deal with my night sweats, migraines, joint pain and mood swings, and to get a greater understanding of the hormonal roller coaster I’ve been on (rooms starting at 850 euros or about $924). After a health screening, I was given a tailored agenda to nurture and balance my aging, changing body. First up was a personalized strength training session — squats, lunges, planks and resistance band exercises — to remedy my joint pain and build bone.
For my excessively dry skin, I was given a collagen-boosting facial — collagen production decreases with the loss of estrogen that accompanies menopause — replete with serums and a mask for hydration. To reduce inflammation, I trembled during a daily cold plunge, followed by 15 minutes in an infrared sauna. The finale consisted of a 30-minute bio-hacking treatment, during which I wore thigh-high compression boots — think pulsating, vibrating currents moving up and down your legs — to enhance lymphatic drainage and relax sore muscles; listened to a guided meditation through headphones while wearing an eye-mask; and experienced infrared light stimulation on my face, which is said to heal the cell renewal process and again, stimulate collagen.