Gender-neutral NHS councils are finally being scrapped, it emerged today.
Last year, mentions of women were quietly removed from cervical and ovarian cancer health pages to be more ‘inclusive’.
The awakening push also saw gender terms removed from the menopause page, despite the biological phenomenon only occurring in women.
But following a mass protest and demands for a U-turn, gender-specific language has been reintroduced on the same three pages.
It is part of the launch of a new online NHS Women’s Health hub, designed to “support women’s health at every stage of their lives.”
Following a mass protest and demands for a U-turn, gender-specific language has been reintroduced on all three of the NHS’s women’s health pages, although two others remain gender-neutral.
However, not all pages included in the inclusion review have yet been restored.
For example, the official NHS pages for uterine and vaginal cancer, where mentions of ‘women’ were removed, remain unchanged in the latest update.
MailOnline approached the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), NHS England and NHS Digital to comment on why some have changed and others have not.
Experts argue that removing sex from NHS language pages is dangerous because it can overcomplicate vital health messages for women.
An earlier version of the NHS menopause page described it as “when a woman stops having periods and can no longer get pregnant naturally.”
But this was changed in May of last year to: ‘Menopause is when your periods stop due to lower hormone levels.’
However, in the new update the term ‘woman’ appears again. The council now states that menopause ‘generally affects women between the ages of 45 and 55’.
A line was also added saying “affects anyone who has periods”, referring to biological women who are no longer women and no longer identify as such.
Five other mentions of ‘woman’ or ‘woman’ removed from the menopause overview page as part of the review remain removed.
The NHS ovarian cancer page has suffered a similar setback.
Now it says: ‘Ovarian cancer affects the ovaries. It mainly affects women over 50 years of age.
It can affect anyone who has ovaries.
The previous version of the page, leaked last January, only said: “Anyone with ovaries can get ovarian cancer, but it mainly affects those over 50.”
This itself was a change from: ‘Ovarian cancer, or cancer of the ovaries, is one of the most common types of cancer in women.’
The NHS page for cancer of the cervix, the area between the vagina and uterus, had previously removed all mentions of women.
Now features the line: ‘Cervical cancer is cancer found anywhere on the cervix. It mainly affects women under 45 years of age.’
However, the NHS pages for uterine and vaginal cancer have not been included in the reversal.
In 2021, the uterine cancer page stated: “Cancer of the uterus (uterine or endometrial) is a common cancer that affects the female reproductive system” and also mentioned the word “women” in its description.
But the current version now describes the disease as ‘uterine cancer is cancer affecting the uterus’ omitting all mentions of ‘female’ or ‘women’.
Former Health Secretary Sajid Javid has vowed to reverse gender-neutral language in NHS advice after MailOnline revealed that the term ‘women’ had been quietly deleted from menopause advice in June. His successors have yet to commit to the same
The same is true for the NHS vaginal cancer page.
In November 2021, the page had a line that read: “Vaginal cancer is rare, especially in women under 40.”
But, in a change made last year and not yet reverted, the overview section of this page omits this information entirely, and users have to click the ‘symptoms’ subheading to find any mention of gender.
When asked about the language changes, NHS Digital, which manages the web pages on behalf of NHS England, said last year that they wanted the language to be “inclusive and respectful”.
MailOnline’s coverage of the issue prompted a promise from then Health Secretary Sajid Javid to reverse the language changes.
However, none of his successors, including current Health Secretary Steve Barclay, have publicly stated that they would honor their commitment.
Activists at the time also highlighted how men’s health pages such as those on testicular cancer and ‘male menopause’ had not undergone similar de-sexing.
The DHSC unveiled the new NHS women’s health page over the weekend as part of the first anniversary of the government’s women’s health strategy.
Maria Caulfield, Minister for Women’s Health, said: “We will continue to work and invest so that girls and women across the country can benefit from the world-class healthcare they deserve.”
The NHS’s trans pregnancy pages, which were criticized for featuring the phrases “breastfeeding” and “human milk” instead of breastfeeding and breast milk, have not seen any changes as part of the update.