Older women are furious after being excluded from a major government survey on reproductive health.
The Department of Health on Thursday announced a “landmark” online questionnaire covering all aspects of reproductive health, from menstruation and contraception to pregnancy and menopause.
Ministers said they wanted to hear the experiences of women across England, including the challenges of going through menopause at work, to shape future policies.
But the details of the survey revealed that it is only open to women between 16 and 55 years old.
The reaction was led by broadcaster Mariella Frostrup, 60, co-author of a book about menopause, who wrote online: “This is very wrong, discriminatory and misjudged.”
Norwegian-Scottish journalist and presenter Mariella Frostrup (pictured) led the backlash against the decision.
‘Our health has been marginalized for centuries and now we must be grateful that until the age of 55 we have medical interest.’
She added that women who have gone through menopause “continue to suffer the impact of post-reproductive problems and hormonal deprivation” and therefore “dismissing their experience is discriminatory.”
Campaign group Women’s Rights Network has called on health ministers to address oversight.
It said: “Potentially useful survey, but you don’t want to know the opinions of women over 55.”
‘All that reproductive health expertise is apparently not important or necessary at all, not even when it comes to menopause. Totally strange.
Announcing the survey, Health Minister Maria Caulfield, 50, said: “Women and girls deserve the best healthcare at every stage of their lives, but we simply cannot offer it to them without listening to their experiences and concerns.”
‘Women should always have a say in their own healthcare, whether managing pregnancy and fertility or managing the challenges of menopause in the workplace.
Professor Dame Lesley Regan (pictured), Ambassador for Women’s Health, said: “There is no point in strengthening services if they cannot be accessed or if the support available does not work for them and meet their needs.” .
“I encourage all women to complete the reproductive health survey as soon as you can and make sure your voice is heard.”
Professor Dame Lesley Regan, Women’s Health Ambassador, who at 67 would not be eligible to take part in the research, added: “We need to make healthcare work for women and girls, and suit their lives”.
‘There is no point in strengthening services if they are not accessible or if the support available does not work for them and meet their needs.
‘That’s why we ask women and girls to share their experience, whether it’s about menstruation, menopause or endometriosis. “We need your voice to shape a new healthcare system that gives women what they need.”