l

The content of this website is intended for healthcare professionals only

Menopausal women want more support from GPs

Many women shun HRT in favour of supplements, herbal remedies and talking

Mark Gould

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Menopausal women prefer non-medical treatment for their symptoms including herbal remedies and vitamin supplements but they also want more support from their GP and partner according to new research.

Researchers from the University of Aberdeen writing today in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, contacted over 4400 women aged 45 to 54 in north east Scotland who were questioned on menopausal symptoms and management.  

Nearly half (46.7%) experienced hot flushes, 46.4% night sweats and 28.2% vaginal dryness. Approximately two-fifths of women reported these symptoms as quite a bit or extremely bothersome. 

Surgically menopausal women, who have had a hysterectomy and/or oopherectomy, reported the most bother from menopausal symptoms and the greatest frequency of bothersome symptoms.

The study also looked at the different management strategies women adopt, from HRT to alternative therapies and social support. It found that the most common management strategy reported by 60% of the women was social support through talking to friends or family.

In addition, one third of women thought that their GP was very supportive, however 34% wanted to have more support from them. One fifth of women wanted more support from their spouse or partner.

Moreover, the questionnaire found that women reported taking vitamins, minerals and supplements and herbal remedies rather than HRT, for example, 38% of postmenopausal women had used herbal remedies.

The questionnaire included a symptom checklist which asked about problems such as stiff joints, aches and pains, headaches, vaginal dryness, hot flushes, night sweats, depression, anxiety, mood swings, decreased sexual interest and menstrual symptoms. Participants were asked whether they had experienced the symptom in the last month and how bothered they were by this.

Dr Lisa Iversen, from the division of applied health sciences, University of Aberdeen and co-author of the paper said:

“Our results provide a powerful reminder that the menopause is a time of life when women experience numerous symptoms, many of which are bothersome.

“We found that many women used non-medical approaches to help relieve the symptoms suggesting a large need for effective non-hormonal management options for menopausal women.” 

John Thorp, BJOG deputy-editor-in-chief added: “The results of this questionnaire show that women during the menopause face many different symptoms and have different coping strategies.

“Support from healthcare workers as well as friends and family is important and women must talk to their GP if their symptoms are bothering them or affecting their day-to-day quality of life.

“As so many women use herbal remedies, it is important that they are tested for efficacy and safety to the same standard as hormone replacement therapy.”

 

Duffy O, Iversen L, Hannaford P. The impact and management of symptoms experienced at midlife: a community-based study of women in northeast Scotland. BJOG 2012; DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2012.03276.x

Registered in England and Wales. Reg No. 2530185. c/o Wilmington plc, 5th Floor, 10 Whitechapel High Street, London E1 8QS. Reg No. 30158470