A QUARTER of Scottish women with menopause symptoms are “struggling to cope with life” according to new research out yesterday.
The study found they are receiving little support or access to treatment for symptoms relating to hormonal changes.
As a result, one in four struggles to cope with aspects of daily life and 43 per cent say they feel depressed, while over a third (36 per cent) say they suffer from anxiety. Around 70 per cent of women questioned in Scotland say there is a general lack of support or advice for those going through the menopause.
Women in the workplace fare even worse in Scotland – 75 per cent of female workers suffering symptoms say they feel unsupported at work, even though one in six says their symptoms have a detrimental effect on their work and six per cent of women say they have even considered quitting their job.
The research was carried out by not-for-profit healthcare provider, the Nuffield Health Scotland Hospital, who questioned more than 3,000 women in the UK aged between 40 and 65. Dr Annie Evans, menopause specialist at Nuffield Health, said: “Menopause is a condition which is often sidelined as just a fact of life and not something to be taken seriously but, for many women, the symptoms are extreme and can have a devastating impact on their life.
“Many feel anxious, confused, depressed and exhausted to the point where they are struggling to cope with daily routine.
“The menopause is not something that just happens to women in their 50s, but can affect those in their late 30s through to late 1960s. These women can suffer in silence for years when they could have been benefiting from tailored advice or support.”
Despite reporting symptoms like joint and muscle aches, hot flushes, irregular periods, night sweats, mood swings and poor memory, over a quarter (28 per cent) of women in Scotland questioned failed to recognise they could be experiencing symptoms linked to the menopause, with 46 per cent mistakenly believing they were too young or too old for symptoms.
Dr Julie Ayres, Menopause and PMS Expert at Nuffield Health, said: “The issue needs to be dragged into the 21st century.
“Increasingly employers are beginning to take employee health and wellbeing seriously, yet clearly the menopause remains taboo.”
‘No-one to talk to and no support’
Julie Davis began suffering from serious anxiety and panic attacks at the age of 38.
Her GP told her she was too young to be having menopause symptoms even though she asked specifically about the possibility as her mother had stopped having periods at the age of 46.
She describes her symptoms as “feeling like I was going crazy.”
Her doctor prescribed anti-depressants, which did not work, with one brand giving her suicidal thoughts.
She began to suffer joint ache which was so painful that she could not get out of bed.
Her mother was suffering from MS and Ms Davis thought that she may also be experiencing MS or severe stress. Not one doctor out of the three that she visited suggested or thought it was menopause related.
It was only when she read about the subject in a magazine and decided to go to visit Dr Julie Ayres in Leeds, after failing to get help from a GP on the NHS.
She says her quality of life has increased significantly since she was prescribed tailored hormone replacement therapy.
She said: “Without a shadow of doubt, the problem is a lack of knowledge from GPs. They want to put the symptoms down to anything but menopause.
“Unless you get referred to an expert you don’t get anywhere. There needs to be a more personalised approach
“There is nobody to talk to, so when you don’t get support it’s really disheartening.”