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Offer 45-year-old women NHS menopausal health check – MPs

All women aged 45 must be invited to an NHS health check so doctors can talk to them about menopause, MPs said.

The cross-party, all-party Parliamentary Group on Menopause (APPG) said far more needs to be done to help women and provide advice, including giving the NHS free HRT prescriptions and improving training for medics on symptoms.

Its new report says: “The NHS must provide a health check for all women over the age of 45, which will be offered in a similar way to cervical swabs when all women are invited to make an appointment.

“This is critical to ensuring that women engage with the healthcare system before or in the early stages of perimenopause, diagnose menopause earlier and ensure women are better prepared and receive the right information and treatment they need to manage.” to cope with the menopause transition.”

A free NHS health check is offered to men and women from the age of 40, but it specifically looks for early signs of stroke, heart disease, diabetes or dementia.

In its new study, the APPG said one of its key concerns is that women face a zip code lottery over whether they can access the right treatment from their GP.

The APPG’s year-long investigation heard from women struggling to access treatment, with one statement: “[I was] routinely offered antidepressants…although I wasn’t depressed or even in a bad mood…I had a primary care doctor who argued with me that antidepressants should be used for perimenopausal symptoms and she didn’t back down until I got the recent NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) clinical guidelines stating that this is absolutely NOT the case and that antidepressants are not appropriate in most cases.”

Another woman who suspected she was going through menopause at age 39 was turned away by her GP and told to “wait and see”.

Some 18 months later, she said she was “almost on the brink of collapse, struggling to keep my normally happy marriage on track, and not functioning well physically or mentally.”

The APPG report states that “despite the evidence for the safe and effective use of ‘HRT’ to treat menopausal symptoms, “misunderstandings about their use and perceptions of their dangers remain high among both women and healthcare professionals”.

It is said that many women are still not being offered HRT by their doctors, or are refusing treatment themselves due to misunderstandings.

“It’s important to dispel the myth surrounding HRT use to ensure more women get the treatment they need to manage their symptoms, which can have a major impact on their daily lives,” she added .

The APPG also argued that despite the government reducing the cost of repeat HRT prescriptions, HRT “is not a luxury and should be freely available to anyone who wishes to use it”.

It added: “We are calling on the Government to make HRT free on prescription for everyone in England, as is the case in the devolved countries.”

Turning to the training of doctors, MEPs welcomed that factual assessments for prospective medical professionals will cover menopause from 2024/25, but said action was needed to ensure existing doctors were “delivering the best possible treatment for menopause”.

They also urged workplaces to do more, saying nearly a million women in the UK have stopped working due to menopausal symptoms.

Labor MP Carolyn Harris, leader of the APPG, said: “Access to HRT for women in the UK remains a postcode lottery and there is a clear divide between those who can afford to seek treatment elsewhere, and those who cannot.

“The consequences for those suffering from menopause symptoms and not receiving the right treatment can be severe – leading to the breakdown of personal relationships and career jeopardy, with women being forced to take extra days off or stop working altogether , which supplements their financial resources endangers situations.

“While the development of a Women’s Health Strategy was an opportunity to revolutionize access to menopause support and treatment for all, in its current form it has failed to address the multiple issues faced by women in the UK.”

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