Below is a template draft that you are welcome to adapt to include your own experiences and send to your local MP. Don’t forget to put your full name and address with post code on it so your MP knows you are one of their constituents.
Feel free to use the template below, cut and paste or take inspiration from – as you see fit in your letter to your MP.
Menopause is not just a few hot flushes and mood swings. Over recent years we have discovered that there are more than 40 symptoms that are related to declining hormones and they can be extremely debilitating. Some of these include:
– low mood/depression
– panic attacks
– brain fog/forgetfulness
– stress urinary incontinence (peeing when you sneeze or laugh) or urge incontinence (having to go NOW!!)
– increased UTIs
– vaginal and vulval atrophy (This can make sitting and walking uncomfortable – not to mention, sex impossible. At risk of TMI – the skin can feel like it’s burning or itching and it can tear and bleed. No man would put up with this.)
– aching joints and muscles
– insomnia and fatigue
– digestive issues
– onset or new allergies or worsening of existing allergies.
It’s not surprising then that divorce rates are high in the perimenopause/menopause years and suicide
rates for women are highest between the ages of 45-54.
In addition many women reduce their working hours, change jobs or leave the workforce as a recent BMJ study showed
with 93% of 2000 medical practitioners surveyed saying they had physical or mental symptoms and 90% saying it had affected their ability to work.
There is an economic cost in terms of absenteeism, lost productivity and a brain drain. There is also a cost to the health system.
Menopausal women who are not treated with hormone replacement (HRT) have a higher rate of heart disease and are at greater risk of osteoporosis. (There are 500000 fragility fractures in the UK annually and the cost to the health system is huge. Fractures and urinary incontinence are two of the main reasons women end up in nursing homes. According to NICE around 30%
of people who have a hip fracture die within a year.) The decline in bone density is greatest in the first 5 years after menopause – so it’s vital that is is dealt with then – not left until it is too late.
Unfortunately, as a recent FOI conducted by Diane Danzebrink
(a campaigner for better menopause health care – her petition ‘Make Menopause Matter’
has more than 145000 signatures) shows 41% of UK medical schools do not have mandatory classes on menopause for medical students. In those that do, around 25% spend just one hour on it. (The best was Edinburgh with ten hours).
Instead, the reliance is on GP training placements but many GPs still believe the results of the 2002 Women’s Health Initiative study which claimed that HRT caused breast cancer. The study had many flaws and it has been shown since that in the age group of 50-59 or if HRT is started within ten years of the last period (the menopause) the benefits outweigh the risks. While there are many enlightened GPs, leaving it to luck means that we have a system where the blind may be leading the blind and another generation of women will suffer needlessly.
Again, unfortunately, there is no mandatory CPD to help doctors catch up and as a result the system is failing many women very badly. In addition there is no universal access to treatments with some areas not allowing the best forms of HRT to be prescribed.
I am hoping you will be able to attend this meeting and will help in calling on the RCGP and universities to improve their education on menopause. As you know, women are around 51% of our aging population, so it makes economic sense to improve universal access to up-to-date health information and treatment options. It is estimated that there are 13 million menopausal women in the UK at the moment.
There needs to be a significant change in the way menopause is dealt with as a taboo topic and in terms of thinking of it as just a ‘natural’ part of aging that we should put up with. We now live up to half of our lives as menopausal women and it simply makes sense that we are better prepared and healthier in body and mind – and that our doctors are able to support us in achieving this.