Too many women are suffering in silence and those that do seek help are often left frustrated and disappointed when medical professionals fail to recognise their menopausal symptoms or recognise their symptoms and either refuse to prescribe HRT or prescribe them incorrectly.
Too many women are being told that menopause is just a natural phase of life and they will just have to get on with it. Natural it may be but I challenge anybody who has not experienced the debilitating effects that it can have to just get on with it! Equally demoralising for a woman already struggling with a host of symptoms is to be told that she must be depressed and despatched with a prescription for anti depressants.
There is still much fear and confusion around the subject of hormone replacement therapy amongst both doctors and women and 67% of women recently surveyed said there was a general lack of support or advice for those going through menopause.
Work presents yet another challenge, in the Nuffield Health survey published in October 2014 , 72% of female workers said they felt unsupported, one in five felt their symptoms were affecting their work and one in ten had considered quitting. Nine out of ten women said they felt unable to talk to a manager or colleague, 18% said they had needed to take time off, 1 in 50 was on long term sick leave. Few disclosed the real reason for their absence!
Personal relationships can suffer due to many of the symptoms women report and a recent survey on behalf of the British Menopause Society highlights that 50% of women surveyed reported that their sex life was affected by their symptoms. Add in to this the 30% who reported distressing urogenital symptoms and it becomes clear why some women struggle to discuss what is going on for them.
There are a host of reasons why women may encounter menopause much earlier in their lives. Hysterectomy will induce immediate surgical menopause if both ovaries are removed. Premature ovarian insufficiency affects approximately one in every 100 women under the age of 40, one in 1,000 women under 30 and one in 10,000 under 20. In Britain 110,000 women between the ages of 12 and 40 are affected. A spontaneous (natural) early menopause affects approximately 5% of the population before the age of 45.
It is not uncommon for women scheduled for hysterectomy to have no follow up from their gynaecologist and post radical surgery they are simply referred back to their GP with no additional support.
Women diagnosed with conditions resulting in infertility are regularly expected to endure the distress of attending appointments amongst pregnant women and new mothers with babies.
For women who undergo treatment for cancer the treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy can cause temporary or permanent damage to the ovaries, resulting in POI. Many of these women are left to struggle with the symptoms of menopause which can have a devastating effect on their quality of life.
So, if women are struggling, what of the men in their lives? I remember trawling online forums when I felt at my lowest to see if anybody felt like me. In the early hours one morning I came across a comment that simply said ‘Can somebody please help me, I think my wife is going mad’ My heart broke for this poor faceless man and for my own husband who whilst he could not have been more supportive was left not knowing where to turn and what to do as the woman that he knew fell apart piece by piece in front of his eyes.
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