What do I mean by menopause statistic? Well, World Menopause Day has been and gone, with lots of great press, workshops, talks and radio shows about the menopause. But like lots of these ‘designated days’ which are necessary for raising awareness, they can show some really awful statistics.
They really shocked me. I’m not sure why. I suppose I was lulled by the great awareness raising and the progress year on year in the public arena. What of course it doesn’t alter YET is that menopause symptoms continue to be absolutely ghastly for many, many women. And it’s vital that you don’t become just another menopause statistic.
I want to share research data which the British Menopause Society (BMS) prepared for World Menopause Day for 2017 so that you can ask yourself if you are a ‘menopause statistic’.
What the findings reveal
Clearly, there is a need for greater support for women experiencing the menopause across the UK. Three quarters of women say that the menopause caused them to change their life. Over half say it had a negative impact on their lives*.
Despite this, a third of the women surveyed hadn’t tried anything to reduce or prevent their symptoms.
Almost half (45%) of women, whose menopause had a strong impact on their lives, felt their menopause symptoms have had a negative impact on their work.
The survey also revealed that the menopause remains a ‘taboo’ subject in the UK. Something women and men don’t always feel comfortable talking about.
Nearly half of women (47%) surveyed who are in employment and who needed to take a day off because of the menopause said they wouldn’t feel comfortable disclosing the real reason to their employer or colleagues.
Kathy Abernethy, Chairman, British Menopause Society said: “Despite the average female life expectancy in the UK being 83 years, and many women living in the post-menopausal phase for half to one-third of their lives, the findings of the survey suggest that there are still many women who are choosing to go through the menopause without seeking support or treatment even when they are experiencing symptoms that are affecting all aspects of their lives, including their relationships.
“Sadly, many women are unaware of the impact their symptoms can have on their overall health and that small lifestyle and dietary changes can help improve their quality of life. Many with severe symptoms are also often confused about the benefits and risks of treatment options.”
Taking an individual approach
The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published a new guideline on menopause diagnosis and management in November 2015. They recommended healthcare professionals adopt an individualised approach at all stages of diagnosis, investigation and management of menopause. The guideline covered the treatment of symptoms with both drug and non-drug treatment options that help with physical and psychological symptoms.
It shows how far we have come that we actually have this amazing data. But it also shows how far we also have to go. The takeaway for me is that we can’t wait for doctors and the medical profession to catch up with us.
It is fantastic that the guidelines say that healthcare professionals need to advise a drug and non-drug approach. But the reality is that it usually takes about ten years for guidelines to filter down to primary healthcare facilities. Plus healthcare professionals are not trained in non-drug approaches.
There are moves to change this, and again this is great. However, women can’t wait ten years till the training catches up with what we need. Clearly too many women are suffering in silence and shouldn’t be. The sad part also is as Kathy says “small lifestyle and dietary changes can help improve their quality of life”. Small being the operative word here.