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In January 2022, our Health Minister Robin Swann, stated that the free period products scheme (falls) “outside (the) health remit”. Yet, fast forward to the 24th of March and thanks to the passionate endeavours of local campaigners and politicians, legislation was passed to make period products freely available in the NI assembly. Late to the party, NI was the last part of the UK to have such a scheme in place to address period poverty. So is that it, does this go far enough? How can our own Health Minister be so at odds with the idea that this is part of Menstrual Health?


Let's look at what Menstrual Health is. The World Health Organisation’s definition of Menstrual Health is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity in relation to the menstrual cycle”. [1] Admittedly, there is limited evidence of how provision of menstrual products improve school attendance and psychosocial outcomes but menstruation is about much more than this. This is exactly why we need a broader approach to menstrual health as argued by Dr Dani Barrington in her recent O&G magazine publication where she points out the need for a more holistic approach. This approach would seek to address not only access to menstrual products but also proper facilities, adequate Menstrual education, timely medical diagnosis and treatment with respectful care. She goes on to argue about the need for consideration of the cultural context within which each of these things exist, something that is often forgotten.


“ A more holistic approach ensures that not only do those who menstruate have access to menstrual materials (which they choose for themselves, not those others assume are most appropriate) and suitable facilities to change, wash and dispose of them, but also promotes access to knowledge about the menstrual cycle, timely medical diagnosis and treatment, a positive and respectful environment (including when seeking medical care), and the choice of whether and how those who menstruate participate in all spheres of life. Furthermore, such programs need to consider the cultural context within which they exist; they must not assume that menstrual practices common in high-income countries are always preferred or ‘the best is west”.[2]


Having PCOS we know only too well what it is to wait for PCOS diagnosis and we continue to wait for proper licensed treatments for PCOS which affects not only our menstrual cycle but also our general health and longevity. So yes we do need a broader view of Menstrual Health and it is definitely not just about pads. We need physical and psychological health to be considered too.

If you would like to join our PCOS Vitality Peer Support Group on Facebook just click the link below
https://www.facebook.com/groups/2080389955597784

© PCOS Vitality 2022

References

[1] J. Hennegan, I.T. Winkler, C. Bobel, D. Keiser, J. Hampton, G. Larsson, V. Chandra-Mouli, M. Plesons, T. Mahon, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction (HRP), Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research, World Health Organization, (2021). https://doi.org/10.1080/26410397.2021.1911618.

[2] Improving menstrual health: more than providing pads – O&G Magazine, (n.d.). https://www.ogmagazine.org.au/24/1-24/improving-menstrual-health-more-than-providing-pads/#easy-footnote-1-14585 (accessed April 9, 2022).

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  • Writer's picturePCOS Vitality (c)



The Department of Health and Social Care has issued a call for evidence to inform development of the government's 10 Year Cancer Plan for England. They are seeking views to help understand how they can progress the NHS Long Term plan which set out to increase the number of lives saved each year by dramatically improving both diagnosis and treatment of cancer.


The easiest way to have your say is to complete the online survey, link here




PCOS Vitality has provided evidence as an organisation with relation to Womb Cancer in particular as we believe there should be a national awareness campaign on the link between PCOS and the increased risk of endometrial cancer. We also believe there should be better access to gynaecology clinics in the UK.


Have your say too, whether you are an individual or an organisation. The survey closes 1st April 2022, together we can make things happen.


(c) PCOS Vitality, 2022


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The risk of osteoporosis in PCOS is not well understood as few longitudinal studies of PCOS exist. I was thrilled to win an Osteolab test kit in a recent competition. It came as a perfect opportunity for me to test my personal risk of osteoporosis which is all the more timely having newly entered Perimenopause.



What is Osteoporosis?


Osteoporosis is a slow developing condition and is often only diagnosed after a facture has occurred.[1] Osteoporosis makes bones weak and fragile and more likely to break [1].


Causes and risk of osteoporosis


As we age it is normal to lose bone but some people may experience a rapid loss of bone leading to osteoporosis and an increased risk of broken bones. Women are particularly at risk of rapid bone loss in the first few years after Menopause and are more at risk of they have early Menopause (before the age of 45) or if their ovaries have been removed[2]. There is conflicting evidence on the effects of PCOS on osteoporosis risk. Recent studies suggest that accompanied with hyperandrognism, PCOS confers a higher bone mineral density and reduced risk of fractures. So when I received the Osteolab test kit I was eager to find out my results [3].


Osteolab early detection of osteoporosis risk


The quick, user-friendly home test kit from Osteolabs determines the calcium ratios in the bones using a urine sample. Simply test yourself at home and get a detailed report of your results. The test gives you the advantage of finding out your risk before large amounts of bone substance have been broken down, allowing you to seek treatment early[4]. Discover more about the test here;



Treatments and living with Osteoporosis


As well as bone strengthening medications, there is some evidence to suggest that Physical Activity also reduces the risk of fractures in Osteoporosis. HRT can also help some people protect their bone health. If you reach the menopause early before age 45 years and especially before the age of 40, it is important to consider HRT as declining oestrogen levels increases your risk. Speak to your healthcare professional. As with all medications, there are risks linked to taking HRT as well as benefits and these vary from person to person so its important to consider your personal risks and benefits to decide if you can use it and how long for. Discuss these risks with your healthcare professional, so you can make an informed choice.[2]


My results


I’m pleased to say I was surprised to find that my bone health is well above average for my age which is very reassuring. It also leaves me thinking that when it comes to PCOS there is so much yet to be discovered :)

For further information and support, visit;

or join us in our Facebook Peer Support Group where you will find other likeminded PCOS peers to chat and share with.


© PCOS Vitality 2022

Disclaimer: not medical advice. This is not a sponsorship/paid partnership nor is it an advertising feature – other brands & products may exist. Please do not delay seeking healthcare as a result of information provided on our website. All information supplied in good faith and is for general information purposes only. If you need medical advice please speak to your GP.


References

[1] Osteoporosis - NHS, (n.d.). https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/osteoporosis/ (accessed March 7, 2022).

[2] Royal Osteoporosis Society | Hormone replacement therapy, (n.d.). https://theros.org.uk/information-and-support/osteoporosis/treatment/hormone-replacement-therapy/ (accessed March 7, 2022).

[3] H. Deshmukh, N. Shah, M. Papageorgiou, M.A. Abdalla, F. Lhaf, M. Aye, T. Sathyapalan, Genetic risk for the polycystic ovary syndrome, bone mineral density and fractures in women and men: A UK Biobank Mendelian randomisation study, Bone. 155 (2022) 116285. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.BONE.2021.116285.

[4] Detect osteoporosis early - osteolabs, (n.d.). https://osteolabs.co.uk/osteotest-home (accessed March 7, 2022).

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