UK Health Campaign Urges Routine Inquiry into Menstrual Health

UK Health Campaign Urges Routine Inquiry into Menstrual Health

Health campaigners are advocating for a systematic approach to addressing menstrual health concerns among women and girls in the UK. According to a recent survey conducted by Wellbeing of Women, a leading charity dedicated to women's health, there is a pressing need for healthcare providers to routinely inquire about menstrual health during medical appointments. The survey, which gathered responses from 3,001 girls aged 12 to 18 across the UK, revealed alarming statistics regarding the impact of menstrual symptoms on daily life.

The findings of the survey indicate that a significant majority of girls experience painful periods, with 97% reporting such symptoms. Moreover, 42% of respondents described their period pains as "severe," while 20% reported being left bedbound due to their symptoms. The survey also shed light on the mental health implications of painful periods, with 40% of girls feeling unmotivated, 39% experiencing anxiety, 33% feeling depressed, and 31% feeling angry as a result of their symptoms. Shockingly, approximately one in ten girls admitted that their symptoms made them feel like life was not worth living.

Janet Lindsay, Chief Executive of Wellbeing of Women, emphasized the importance of initiating conversations about menstrual health with healthcare professionals. Lindsay highlighted that such discussions empower young women to take control of their health journey, from their first period to their last. Dr. Nighat Arif, a GP and Wellbeing of Women ambassador, echoed this sentiment, noting that many women delay seeking help for painful periods, leading to prolonged suffering and delays in diagnosis and treatment.

Painful periods can be indicative of underlying conditions such as endometriosis, a debilitating condition that often goes undiagnosed for years. A study conducted last month found that women in the UK wait an average of nine years for an endometriosis diagnosis, underscoring the urgent need for improved awareness and healthcare provision in this area.

In response to the survey findings, Wellbeing of Women is calling for a society-wide "normalization" of conversations surrounding menstrual health. The charity advocates for better menstrual health education in schools, targeting both boys and girls. Additionally, they propose launching a public health campaign to raise awareness of period-related problems and urge employers to implement women's health policies to support staff experiencing menstrual health issues.

Dr. Michael Mulholland, Honorary Secretary of the Royal College of GPs, reaffirmed the commitment of family doctors to address period-related concerns sensitively and confidentially. Dr. Mulholland emphasized that GPs and their teams are often the first point of contact for women seeking help with menstrual or reproductive health issues. He reassured women that healthcare professionals are highly trained to have open, confidential, and honest conversations, with the aim of developing personalized treatment plans tailored to individual needs.

The Royal College of GPs acknowledges the significant impact of painful periods on women's well-being and encourages anyone experiencing such symptoms to reach out to their GP or another medical professional for support. Dr. Mulholland stressed the importance of creating a supportive environment where women feel comfortable discussing their menstrual health concerns, emphasizing that GPs are dedicated to providing the best possible care to their patients.

In conclusion, the findings of the Wellbeing of Women survey underscore the urgent need for improved recognition and management of menstrual health issues among women and girls in the UK. By normalizing conversations about menstrual health, enhancing education and awareness, and implementing supportive policies in schools and workplaces, strides can be made towards improving the overall well-being of women and girls across the country. Healthcare providers, policymakers, educators, and employers must work together to address this pressing public health issue and ensure that women and girls receive the support and care they deserve.

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