I was delighted to see menopause in the spotlight on Davina McCall's programme, Sex, Myths and the Menopause, raising awareness of the effects of the menopause, for which the impact can be devastating, and what options are available. Two main issues of concern were raised--provision of information for women and education of GPs.
From the women interviewed and from previous surveys, including from the British Menopause Society, it is clear that many women are not prepared for the onset of perimenopause and menopause, and do not always receive the advice and support that they need from their primary care teams. We know that there has been a huge upsurge in development of resources for women over recent years with websites, support groups, festivals, and much more, not to mention Menopause Matters website (launched January 2002!), Menopause Matters magazine (since 2005!) and Women's Health Concern; patient support from the British Menopause Society. There has also been a massive increase in provision of education for healthcare professionals in the form of meetings, publications, webinars, particularly from the British Menopause society, whose membership is now at an all time high, and meetings are full or over subscribed.
Therefore why still the problem?
Women are entering the transition phase of changing ovarian function every day. Perimenopause and menopause can present in many ways, not just in the form of well known flushes, and women may only start to look for information if they recognise that these symptoms may be hormone related, and if they realise that these changes can start in the early to mid 40s, or earlier.
Menopause education in schools is key in early preparation and those of us committed to providing information and support must just keep doing what we are doing, and embrace opportunities and creative ways of delivering.
Despite the criticisms expressed about the lack of menopause training and knowledge by GPs, most menopause management is provided appropriately by knowledgeable primary care teams. Implementation of the BMS vision for menopause care in the UK is essential to address the lack of consistency and implementation needs to be progressed urgently.
I am excited about the future of menopause care in the UK since, while much has been achieved, so much more is possible, and will continue to work tirelessly through Menopause Matters and BMS, and link with other organisations so that together we can continue to make a difference!