Make Menopause Matter in Healthcare, Employment and Education. #MakeMenopauseMatter
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Every day of every of week I counsel women who have been struggling to get the right advice and support for their menopause symptoms.
Six years ago I had to have a total hysterectomy including removal of both of my ovaries putting me in to immediate surgical menopause. I received no counselling or advice about the possible effects of my surgery and was simply told to visit my GP after a few weeks when I left hospital. Due to a lack of the right information and support I did not receive the treatment I needed at the right time.
A few months after my surgery I fell in to a very deep, dark place where I came very close to ending my own life. I was lucky; I had a supportive husband and family who got me the help I needed when I was not capable of doing that for myself.
I have become increasingly aware of just how many women are not receiving the right support and advice at menopause, from their doctors, their employers and sometimes even their own families and friends. This is all due to a chronic lack of menopause education and awareness.
GP's receive little, if any; mandatory menopause education during their training which is shocking when you consider that it is a stage of life that 50% of the population will experience. I don't want women to have to continue to struggle with their menopause symptoms in the way that I did and that’s why I am calling on Penny Mordaunt Minister for Women and Equalities, Jackie Doyle-Price and Steve Brine from the Dept of Health and Social Care to work together with the NHS the Royal College of General Practitioners and medical schools to make comprehensive menopause training a compulsory part of GP education and to expand menopause services throughout the U.K
The result of this lack of education is that far too many women are left to endure menopause symptoms and the long term health effects of falling hormone levels. Women are regularly being misdiagnosed as depressed and prescribed anti depressants when they are in fact peri menopausal. Far too many women are being forced to fund private consultations to access treatment that should be readily available to them via their GP practice.
Many women who experience an early or premature menopause are told they are too young to be menopausal, others are denied first line treatment when they are told they are too old or ineligible due to their lifestyle or health. Those women with complex cases are enduring lengthy waiting lists due to a chronic lack of NHS menopause specialist clinics throughout the U.K.
This lack of education and awareness is costing women their health and wellbeing but it is also costing the NHS. Many women seek repeated appointments with their GP's to attempt to address a host of common menopause symptoms including joint pain, palpitations and anxiety. These women are often incorrectly referred on to secondary care incurring further distress for the individual and further cost for the NHS. Better education and implementation of the 2015 NICE guidelines would result in quicker diagnosis and treatment for women and savings for the NHS.
There are currently around 4.3 million women aged over fifty in employment in the UK. Recent studies have shown that two-thirds of women said they had no support at work and 50% have reported finding work difficult due to their symptoms of menopause. Approximately one in four consider leaving employment due to their symptoms and 10% of women have actually given up work all together as a result of their symptoms. I have personally counselled four NHS nurses over the last six months who have all left the organisation due to a lack of awareness and support.
In recent years we have seen surveys, statistics and reports outlining the impact of menopause on productivity and profitability but the hidden costs are to family finances, personal confidence and the benefits system, when women, who have always been in employment, find themselves relying on benefits for the first time in their lives. Supporting women to remain at work by implementing a few simple adjustments is common sense. Government and business need to recognise that menopause guidance in every workplace is a win win situation.
Surely it is time to make menopause education and awareness a priority for our young people in the PSHE curriculum. Every woman and man deserves to understand a stage of life that will affect us all whether directly or as a partner, family member, friend or employer. Age appropriate education will ensure more autonomy for women and greater understanding and compassion from those around them. The most heartbreaking sentiment that I hear from women when supporting them is "I wished I had known this information before, I think it might have saved my relationship" Surely anything that avoids the loss of personal health, employment opportunities and relationships makes it worthy of inclusion in the curriculum.
Finally, a few months ago while doing some research I took a look at the most recent suicide figures produced by the Office for National Statistics. The age group for women with the highest suicide rate per 100,000 in the U.K is 50-54, the average age of menopause is 51.
Is this the ultimate hidden cost of a lack of menopause education, information, advice and support?
Please join me in calling on the Minister for Women and Equalities and Ministers responsible for health, work and education named in this petition to #MakeMenopauseMatter.
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