How to plan for the menopause
Got questions about the menopause? Research shows that 45% of women have never seen a GP to discuss their menopause. Instead, they tend to ask family and friends for advice. This is where the Bupa Menopause Plan can help.
Here, we chat to Bupa’s Women’s Health Lead, Dr Samantha Wild, about why more one-to-one time with a GP specially trained in menopause care can help to transform your quality of life. She also explains what The Bupa Menopause Plan is doing to help bridge this gap.
How the Bupa Menopause Plan can help
Do women have enough information to have a happy and healthy menopause?
No, I don’t think they do. Our research has shown that just 31% of women felt certain they were going through the menopause and that one in ten had ‘no idea’ they’d started this transition. We’ve also found that women tend to ask family and friends for advice (45%) or research the menopause online (36%), instead of seeking the guidance of a doctor.
Nearly half (45%) of those we spoke to said they’d never seen a GP to discuss symptoms. It’s concerning that so many women are turning to their friends, family and ‘Dr Google’ for support, as the menopause affects every woman differently. Something one friend may have experienced is likely to be totally different for another woman.
Women are also often not aware of the importance of maintaining a healthy weight, having a healthy balanced diet, not smoking and keeping their alcohol intake to less than 14 units a week, as well as taking part in regular aerobic and resistance exercise. It’s also important that women are aware of the benefit of doing things that reduce stress, such as practising yoga and mindfulness, and trying to get enough sleep.
These may all help to reduce the symptoms they may be experiencing as well as reduce their risks of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and osteoporosis, which will all increase after the menopause.
Are there gaps in UK menopause care?
While many GPs in the UK are knowledgeable on women’s health, a gap still exists when it comes to menopause. This is because the menopause is not a compulsory part of GP training and we’re not taught enough about it at medical school either.
A widely reported study that linked breast cancer with HRT back in the early 2000s has also had a huge impact on menopause care. We now know this study was flawed but, until the NICE guidelines came out in 2015, things didn’t change and many GPs have lost confidence treating menopause, particularly in a typical ten-minute appointment.
It’s important that both women and their GPs are fully informed about the benefits of HRT. This isn’t in only reducing menopause symptoms but also a woman’s risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, type-2 diabetes, bowel cancer and depression.
What makes Bupa’s Menopause Plan different?
At Bupa, our GPs have all had additional training so they can deliver up-to-date menopause care. The Menopause Plan includes a 45-minute consultation that allows us to really focus on menopause symptoms in a way that’s difficult to do in a typical ten-minute GP appointment. We also ask women to fill in a pre-appointment questionnaire beforehand. We send over plenty of information about the menopause so they’re well-informed about their options before meeting the doctor.
Menopause care is not something that our doctors want to dictate – we’re interested in what our patients want as well. In the consultation we talk through the risks and benefits of HRT, the woman’s past medical history, their family history, their concerns and their preferences before putting together a bespoke plan. Once a plan has been agreed, we’ll also contact their NHS GP, if they’re happy for us to. Menopause treatment shouldn’t be something women need to keep coming back to us for, although obviously they can if they wish to.
What does the Bupa Menopause Plan include?
- A pre-appointment questionnaire and symptom checker.
- 45 minutes with a GP specially trained in menopause care.
- A bespoke care plan to follow, based around your needs.
- A 15-minute follow-up appointment with the same GP.
- 24/7 menopause support from Bupa nurses, via the Anytime HealthLine.
You don’t need medical insurance, our plan is pay-as-you-go. To book the full plan and ongoing support for 12 months, call the Bupa Bookings Team now on 03333053749 or go to bupa.co.uk/menopause-plan