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Time to talk and educate about Menopause...




Menopause, a prominent topic surrounding women’s health, was subject to discussion with the Women’s Health APPG webinar. Chair, Jackie Doyle-Price, led the discussion which covered many areas including the impact of Covid-19 on provision of care. We heard from GP Dr Anne Connolly who highlighted how GPs are currently adapting during the pandemic and stressed the important role they have in supporting women going through Menopause. Also discussed was the increasingly collaborative work that medical professionals are engaging in to help improve services. Benefits can be had from medical professionals sharing their practices and uniting commissioning decisions. It is encouraging to learn of the pioneering work being done at Women’s Health Hubs in local primary care networks.


Patient, Diane Giddy, kindly shared her personal perspective of services which highlighted many gaps including the need to listen to patients. Diane relayed the debilitating symptoms she encountered during Menopause and how this affected her both physically and psychologically. The discussion raised the issue of misdiagnosis due to lack of awareness of the wide range of Menopause symptoms. There exists a risk that women may be treated for other things, joint pain is one example, without the realisation that the problem is attributable to the Menopause.


Diane also pointed out the need for women to have the right information and support from the off as it can affect life choices especially for those of a younger age. Dr Anne Connolly agreed that there needs to be proper signposting for Women’s Health and acknowledged the dangers of Google searching and its effects on how women learning about their bodies.


Discussion led to the question of what is impeding progress in this area. The panel chair raised the question of menopause being a taboo and how stigma surrounding women’s health can compound progress and the ability of women to access care. This is particularly pertinent for women who experience menopause at a younger age. Access to HRT must be available for those experiencing early menopause. There is a need to educate women and to have open conversations about menopausal symptoms in order to tackle the stigma. Diane Giddy added that a Preventative Programme may help women live happier and healthier lives.

With regards to consent in women’s health, there are currently some innovative pilot schemes being carried out in maternal healthcare. It is hoped that they may be rolled out across gynaecology and orthopaedics in the future. These schemes broaden the issue of consent. Consent needs to be more than a quick signing of a piece of paper just before a procedure. Women and everyone need to have proper discussions before consent is reached. Sarah Wilkinson spoke of emerging opportunities for digital growth in women’s health and for women seeking care to become more digitally literate. Sarah mentioned a new initiative designed to produce a broad spectrum of data on devices and implants for women. This is very never more relevant than now in the wake of the Cumberledge report on harm.


In all, the webinar highlighted the welcomed efforts of primary care, GPs and NHS digital in helping to move things forward for women and everyone with regards to menopause and HRT within the current pandemic restrictions. While there is a lot of great work ongoing there is still a long way to go. We need to tackle the stigma of Menopause and women's health generally and increase education both in healthcare professionals and women and everyone themselves. Thanks to the organisers for the opportunity to participate.


© PCOS Vitality 2020



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