Attitudes towards menopause: time for change
A Comment piece by Zoe Schaedel and Janice Ryder in this month’s issue of The Lancet provides a balanced summary of the current experiences of menopausal women and highlights the need for a change in attitude to this time of life.
This positive article in The Lancet is welcomed by NHMS as it provides a clear summary of both the needs of perimenopausal and menopausal women with regards to symptom management and future health risks, while balancing this with a call to have a more hopeful attitude and focus on the new opportunities this phase of life can bring for many.
The authors lay out the potential barriers and problems our current landscape contain:
“In the UK, NICE guidance that HRT should be the first treatment offered, following a discussion of the risks and benefits, is not always being followed. Many women are unable to get the treatment they need because of a shortage of supply. Others will be worried about HRT-associated adverse events and are reluctant to take medication. The lack of treatment options for menopausal symptoms risks driving patients into the hands of a wellness industry that is unlikely to be science led, using products that are not evidence-based.”
And they call for continued education, mandatory training for healthcare providers*, and improved workplace cultures:
“Raising awareness and education are vital to normalise menopause and enable women to get the support they need. Health-care providers should have mandatory menopause training to ensure best practice is followed. Workplaces need to create an open, inclusive, and supportive culture regarding menopause. Flexible hours, temperature control, cool water, and managers who are trained to have sensitive conversations at work with dignity and respect can make a big difference.”
The Comment concludes on the more positive associations with the menopause and the need to redress this balance in the general narrative:
“Menopause has long had negative connotations in many societies—or else been ignored entirely. A women’s value should not be defined by the end of her fertility. On the contrary, this stage of life is an opportunity, a new beginning that can be lived richly, productively, fully, and in good overall health if society invests in women to help them prepare, cope, and thrive to reach their full potential in mid-life and beyond.”
*If you would like to action menopause training for your healthcare organisation, contact email@example.com