Landmark study confirms women are still being let down by employers and healthcare providers
Findings have been published this week from the largest ever survey of peri/menopausal women in the UK. Despite some progress being made in the last few years, there is still a shocking lack of support for many in their workplaces and when women seek help from their local healthcare provider.
The report, produced by the Fawcett Society, the UK’s leading membership charity campaigning for gender equality and women’s rights, was commissioned by Channel 4 and featured in the documentary aired last week, ‘Davina McCall: Sex, Mind and the Menopause’.
Over 4,000 women contributed to the survey and results showed the majority of women (77%) find at least one menopause symptom ‘very difficult’, and 44% of women experience three or more symptoms that are this severe. Women are most likely to say they find sleeping (84%), brain fog (73%), and anxiety or depression (69%) the most troublesome symptoms.
When it comes to the workplace, 44% of respondents in work reported their ability to do their job has been affected by menopausal symptoms. But despite this, 80% said their workplace has no basic support for them.
Sadly, almost half (45%) of women hadn’t spoken to their local GP practice about their symptoms and of the women who did seek help, 31% said it took many appointments before their GP realised they were experiencing peri/menopause. Just 39% of those that went to the doctors were offered HRT and only 14% of respondents said they are currently taking HRT.
Dr Louise Newson, GP, menopause specialist and Chair of the Newson Health Menopause Society responded:
“I’m so frustrated and angry to read these findings – although it does sadly echo what I see in my clinic day in day out – about women suffering unnecessarily. The quicker the menopause is seen as a long-term female hormone deficiency with health risks and not simply a lifestyle change, the better.
“Symptoms of the menopause are far more than hot flushes. This survey clearly demonstrates how brain fog and poor sleep affect women more commonly. The minority of women are being given HRT despite it being the optimal treatment for the menopause. Many women are still not being offered it by their healthcare professionals which is both disappointing and shocking.
“40% of our NHS workforce are peri/menopausal women. We need to fully enable working women to have information and access to evidence based treatment so they can make informed decisions about improving their symptoms and future health.”
Dr Newson commented on findings about the availability of testosterone – currently not licensed for use for menopausal symptoms:
“Testosterone should be licensed for women. It is an important hormone for many women and can often improve a range of symptoms including mood, energy, concentration, and libido – it is barbaric and scandalous that it is so hard for women to access testosterone on the NHS.
“It is also outrageous that women from lower socioeconomic groups are less likely to receive treatment – this urgently needs to change”, concluded Newson.