World Menopause Day — Raising Awareness to Improve Outcomes
Promoted by the International Menopause Society (IMS), World Menopause Day takes place every year on 18 October. This global event intends to raise awareness of the menopause and the support that is available to help deal with menopausal changes. At menopause, women’s ovaries stop releasing eggs, menstruation ceases, and women are no longer able to become pregnant naturally.This generally occurs at around 50 years of age, and a woman is considered menopausal when she has had one year without menstruation.
Hormone levels can fluctuate wildly in the years leading up to menopause, a period called peri-menopause, and this phase of life can be as challenging for some women as menopause itself. Women are affected by peri-menopause and menopause to differing extents in terms of the symptoms they experience, the severity of these and the impact on their lives. In the peri-menopause phase, women might experience erratic changes to their menstrual cycle that can result in more frequent and heavy bleeding (or in some cases, the exact opposite), increased anxiety or depression, ‘brain fog’, increased or decreased libido, and vaginal dryness. As women approach menopause, additional symptoms such as hot flushes are common, and women might also experience night sweats, disrupted sleep, fatigue, joint pain and headaches. The effects of peri-menopause and menopause can also impact women’s partners and relationships and can also impact on women in the workplace.
In the United Kingdom, the British Menopause Society (BMS) provides authoritative information to healthcare professionals on the menopause and post-reproductive health. The BMS also has a patient arm, Women’s Health Concern (WHC), which provides an independent service to women and aims to help them forge closer relationships with healthcare professionals. Together, these organisations offer a wealth of support, including online educational material and links to other resources, helping to address menopausal matters and ultimately improve health and wellbeing.
The theme for World Menopause Day 2020 is premature ovarian insufficiency. This occurs when ovaries run out of eggs before a woman reaches 40 years of age and more information can be found on the IMS website, with guidance for both women and healthcare professionals.
In line with the aims of World Menopause Day, it is encouraging that in recent years there have been a range of efforts to increase awareness of menopause-associated matters among both women and healthcare professionals. The peer-reviewed literature now contains many reports documenting the extent to which women and their partners can be affected by the menopause, including details of perceptions, attitudes and levels of knowledge; this includes data from around the world. Correspondingly, guidelines and recommendations produced by, and targeting, healthcare professionals in different geographical regions provide information on the ways in which women can be supported when navigating this change. A common theme in much of the literature involves encouraging open dialogue. Healthcare professionals can initiate discussions, enable women to appreciate the underlying reasons for the symptoms they may be experiencing and explain different treatment options. Women should be empowered to understand the menopause and to seek help for managing their symptoms. Individualised approaches to management should take into account women’s specific situations and their personal preferences. Prompt treatment can benefit both women and their partners, alleviating women’s symptomatology with subsequent benefits extending to their relationships.
Bioscript is proud to have been involved with projects that aim to raise awareness of the menopause. We are also keen to promote awareness of peri-menopause and menopause within the workplace, with many women experiencing a myriad of symptoms with little support from GPs, while also juggling the demands of work and family life! Women should not suffer alone through what can be confusing and debilitating experiences, and those with symptoms that are impacting on their quality of life should not be brushed off without consideration of appropriate treatment options or support groups. We are pleased to be holding an on-line menopause awareness session for all our colleagues with Dr Summerhill, a leading UK expert in menopause matters who is passionate about improving women’s understanding of the menopause and providing access to accurate evidence based medical information.
If you would like to discuss our experience in menopause or any aspects of women’s health, please get in touch!