One of Britain’s top GPs has criticized the public focus on menopause, saying the stage of life is ‘not a disease’.
Professor Dame Clare Gerada suggested that too much effort was being made to ‘de-stigmatise’ menopause, and wondered why more attention is not being paid to improving access to fertility treatment instead.
She said, “Generally speaking, (it) is not a disease, it is just a process you are going through.”
She added that she had “never considered (menopause) a stigmatizing process.”
The perception of menopause has undergone a radical shift in recent years, thanks in part to a Davina McCall-inspired revolution that turned menopause from an inevitability to something that could be treated.
In the year to March 2022, nearly 2 million women in England experiencing hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings were prescribed hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This figure is almost a third more than a year earlier, when 1.5 million women were prescribed tablets. , skin patches and gels to manage menopausal symptoms. Meanwhile, nearly 8 million HST items were distributed (blue line), up 35 percent year-over-year. The country was hit by an HRT shortage in 2022
Interest in HRT increased after a menopause documentary by Davina McCall, 54, aired in May 2021. She talked about struggling with hot flashes from the age of 44. Pharmaceutical companies reported a spike in demand for HST products after its release
Professor Dame Clare Gerada suggested too much effort was being made to ‘destigmatise’ menopause
A 2021 documentary by the television host about the change sparked a wave of women seeking hormone replacement drugs.
Dame Gerada, president of the Royal College of GPs, who has worked in the same London-based NHS practice for 34 years, also admitted that she regularly told her patients experiencing infertility to seek private help because the waiting lists for healthcare are so long. goods.
“We are in a terrible state around fertility treatments for men and women in this country,” she told an event organized by the Progress Educational Trust (PET), an infertility charity, earlier this week.
She added: ‘Unfortunately I have to advise most of my patients to go private due to waiting times on the NHS.’
Infertility affects one in six couples trying to conceive and research shows it affects both men and women equally.
Official NHS guidelines state that women under 40 with infertility should receive three cycles of IVF (in vitro fertilization) treatment.
But a zip code lottery means only 13 percent of areas offer it.
Restrictions in several areas mean that patients who are obese, smoke or whose partner has previously had children may not be eligible for treatment, depending on where they live.
Recent research from PET found that only half of GPs knew which treatments were officially recommended – and male GPs were less likely to refer infertile patients for IVF than female doctors.
WHAT IS THE TRANSITION?
Menopause is when a woman stops menstruating naturally and can no longer conceive naturally.
It’s a normal part of aging and usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55 when levels of the sex hormone estrogen drop in a woman.
Eight out of 10 women will experience menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, trouble sleeping, depression or anxiety, and memory problems.
Women are advised to consult their GP if their symptoms are difficult to manage.
Treatments that doctors can provide include hormone replacement therapy, such as tablets, skin patches, and gels that replace estrogen.
Source: health service
Dame Clare said that, in her experience, ‘nobody gets three cycles’.
“It’s pretty lucky if you get one cycle,” she said. “And in the years that I’ve been a GP, the rules have changed so much that even I’m confused.”
She claimed that GPs’ lack of knowledge of recommended fertility treatments was not because they were not ‘sympathetic’.
“It is because society is not sympathetic and we are bringing out the prevailing mood in society,” she added. “If no one is talking about it, if no one is lobbying for couples or women trying to have a child … then it will be sidelined.”
She said infertility was ‘never’ mentioned in NHS officials’ meetings, while menopause was regularly discussed.
“Why don’t we care enough about infertility, don’t even talk about it?” she added.
Labor MP Steve McCabe, who also spoke at the online event, said people experiencing infertility are subject to rules and decision-making that would be “unbearable” for any other medical condition.
He added: ‘I would say we should see this as a significant and serious health condition and we should make sure you have the same access to treatment as if you had heart disease or cancer.’
Sarah Norcross, director of PET, said: ‘Patients have struggled to access NHS-funded fertility treatments for over 20 years. Even those patients who eventually get treatment have their chances of IVF success at risk, either because of delayed NHS trials or because they have to save up and go private.’
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is currently revising its fertility treatment guidelines, which were published in 2013.
A revised guideline is expected in 2024.