The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has launched a government awareness campaign for menopause. The campaign is a direct response to the demand from Irish women for greater knowledge and understanding of menopause as well as better access to accurate information and supports so that they can proactively manage their experience. It will increase awareness of menopause and the symptoms associated with it and encourage open conversation to reduce the stigma associated with this phase of life.
New research commissioned by the Department of Health to inform the campaign has highlighted that:
- Three quarters of women over the age of 35 have either entered peri menopause (19%), are in menopause (18%) or have completed menopause (37%).
- Women in menopause report experiencing up to seven symptoms at any given time.
- 17% of women experiencing menopause have severe symptoms.
- 52% of women currently in menopause describe it as a negative experience.
- 91% of women currently in menopause say they are experiencing constant or occasional symptoms.
- More than half of Irish women report fatigue, lack of energy, insomnia, “brain fog”, changes in weight or body shape, and joint pain – as well as hot flushes and changes in periods.
- 86% of women say that menopause can have a big impact on their everyday lives.
- 28% of women in menopause say they would be happy to talk about it to their manager at work.
The nationwide campaign includes a 30-second advertisement in national and local radio, print ads in national newspapers and magazines, out-of-home advertising on digital displays and bus shelters nationwide, along with ads on digital and social media.
The Department of Health has developed gov.ie/menopause, a one stop shop for information about menopause and menopause symptoms, advice on proactive management, how to support someone going through menopause and links to appropriate clinical expertise.
Minister Donnelly said, “one of my main objectives as Minister for Health has been to improve access to healthcare for women in Ireland. My department, the HSE and I have worked hard to deliver services and supports for women experiencing perimenopause and menopause. There are now four menopause clinics providing treatment for the 25% of women who need medical management of their menopause symptoms. Two further clinics are due to open before the end of the year.”
“While menopause affects half our population directly, all of us know someone going through it, be it a family member, a friend or a colleague. This campaign and website will empower everyone to open up the conversation around menopause and to eradicate any stigma or secrecy that’s associated with it.”
The Chief Nursing Officer Rachel Kenna said, “the research conducted as part of this campaign paints a very informative portrait of what menopause experience is like for women in Ireland today. We know that women are dealing with multiple symptoms, not just temperature regulation and menstrual changes most commonly associated with menopause, but also fatigue, joint pain, insomnia, itchy skin and brain fog among others. This campaign provides information for those experiencing perimenopause and menopause, helping them to recognise their symptoms and to feel enabled to seek the support they need.”
“The cohort of women going through menopause may also be dealing with stressors associated with childcare, elderly parents and work. It is important that they take time for self-care and are supported by their partners, families, friends and colleagues in doing so.”
Dr Deirdre Lundy, Clinical Lead, National Maternity Hospital Complex Menopause Service said, “I am delighted to see this campaign launched. Most patients, who are troubled by menopause symptoms, are able to receive advice and treatment in the community through their GP, Practice Nurse or Family Planning Clinic. Unfortunately, patients with certain medical conditions including thrombosis, cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, hormone sensitive cancers, etc. are advised to be seen by a “Menopause Specialist” to discuss management options. I lead one of these Complex Menopause Services and I am delighted to see more specialist menopause clinics opening around the country.”
Dr Deirdre Collins, GP and Board Member of the ICGP said, “GPs are at the forefront of menopause care, as part of the continuity of care delivered within general practice. The Irish College of General Practice has published a comprehensive new guide for the management of Menopause in General Practice, which will guide GPs from the first consultation right through perimenopause and the menopause.”
“This guide is a milestone in the management of Menopause in general practice. It includes information on diagnosis, lifestyle interventions, prescribing of HRT and, importantly, alternative options to HRT as well as specific advice for women with a history of breast cancer. This specific support for GPs coupled with Menopause Awareness Week offers all of us the opportunity to change the narrative around menopause care in a holistic rounded way.”