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Doctors given new guidance on advising menopausal women

Friday 13th November 2015
UK doctors have been given updated guidance on treating menopausal women. Image credit: Thinkstock
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Around 1.5 million women in the UK experience health problems when going through the menopause, such as hot flushes and night sweats, but are doctors always well-equipped to offer advice on treating these symptoms?

The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published new guidance on how medical professionals should treat and advise the 80 per cent of women who experience these symptoms as a result of the menopause.

This is the first time that the healthcare body has released guidance on dealing with these health complications, despite the fact that the majority of women experience such symptoms when they go through the menopause at an average age of 51.

Other common symptoms include changes in mood, joint pain, muscle pain and headaches. These can last for as many as four years after the date of their final period, but for some ten per cent of women, associated health problems can affect them for up to 12 years afterwards.

What does the guidance include?

NICE's guidance includes advice on prescribing both drug-based and homeopathic treatments to patients, in a bid to make sure that doctors are seriously thinking about which solution is best for each individual woman's needs.

The new documentation came about as a result of recommendations published earlier this month that stated all women should be able to have a say in their care when going through the menopause, as until now, many have been left largely in the dark about the options available to them.

But thanks to this new guidance, patients should get much greater clarity about the treatment options they could benefit from.

NICE now wants doctors to give women experiencing hot flushes and other menopause-related symptoms a thorough explanation of what is happening to their bodies and what the long-term implications could be to help them better understand their options.

What's more, patients will be advised on simple lifestyle changes that they can make to try to improve both their physical and mental health and wellbeing in an attempt to reduce the severity of their symptoms.

Menopausal women will also be given more detailed information on both the benefits and risks of different treatment options so they can decide for themselves which may be most suitable for them.

HRT 'best option'

NICE recommends HRT (hormone replacement therapy) as the best option for treating low moods, night sweats and hot flushes.

GP Dr Imogen Shaw commented: "Women should not feel they have to suffer in silence when menopause is affecting their daily lives at work and at home.

"The effects of menopause are often misunderstood and underestimated - it can impact on health significantly in both the long term and short term. Menopause can cause unbearable hot flushes and night sweats.

"I really hope these guidelines will stimulate interest from women in exploring how they can best manage their menopausal years."

Christine Carson, programme director at the NICE Centre for Clinical Practice, added: "The message to women is clear - talk about the menopause with your clinician if you need advice on your symptoms."

Written by James Puckle

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