Why do so many GPs refuse HRT? – the Daily Mail makes amends

After the recent rants on the subject of menopause in the Daily Mail by columnists Liz Jones and Richard Littlejohn, I’m delighted to see the Mail setting things straight with a factual article on the subject. (writes Di Danzebrink).

Liz Jones, you may remember, told menopausal women to “stop moaning” during a recent appearance on the Good Morning Britain breakfast show in which I took part.

Richard Littlejohn’s grumpy take on the subject had the headline “Let’s hypnotise the Old Bill to catch criminals and actually investigate burglaries instead of helping women officers cope with the menopause”.

I had challenged the mail in an open letter to Liz Jones where I said her judgemental commentary disrespects these women and their experiences, as it does for those women plunged into ‘medical menopause’ as the result of treatment for cancer.

Thankfully, the result is a factual article by Rachel Ellis discussing why so many doctors refuse to prescribe Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) when so many are struggling with symptoms and when expert consensus says the hormone treatment is safe.

The article quotes Dr. Heather Currie, a spokeswoman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and former chair of the British Menopause Society.

Rather than giving women HRT, more than half had prescribed or offered antidepressants to menopausal women who had low mood or anxiety. Yet the official advice is that such women should be offered HRT to alleviate their symptoms unless they have a diagnosis of clinical depression. ‘In this case, the low mood is the result of a hormonal issue and there is little evidence that antidepressants will help,’ Heather says.

GP Louise Newson says there is very poor training in medical school and little ongoing education of doctors about the menopause.

‘When I was at medical school in the late Eighties and early Nineties, I didn’t receive any undergraduate or postgraduate training about the menopause — I only know about it after taking the initiative myself to go on courses so I could improve women’s health, which is so often neglected. Very few GPs have read the NICE guidance on the diagnosis and management of the menopause”. Louise adds.

I’m quoted in the story as well, saying many women are ‘fobbed off’ by their doctors when they ask for HRT. ‘Unfortunately, a lot of GPs are working with out-of-date information and consequently a lot of women are told “we don’t recommend it” or are prescribed antidepressants for low mood when they should be getting HRT,’

‘Many of the women I counsel are very emotional and frustrated because they have tried to address their symptoms and they have been turned away, fobbed off or not listened to.

‘In the worst-case scenarios, women have to leave their jobs as they struggle with mental health and physical symptoms.’

Read the full article in the Mail Online here.