This is how long women wait for menopause diagnosis

·2-min read
Photo credit: Unsplash
Photo credit: Unsplash

Women in the UK are waiting up to a year for a menopause diagnosis from their GP, a new study has found.

Dr Louise Newson AKA the Menopause Doctor, who worked with Davina McCall on her recent Channel 4 documentary about menopause, surveyed 5,187 British women in their 40s and 50s to highlight the lack of training doctors receive around menopause.

Currently GPs receive no formal training around the hormonal changes women experience during midlife, which can lead to misdiagnosis for patients.

Dr Newson found that 74% of the women who took part in her study had suffered symptoms, such as hot flushes, for around 12 months before they were diagnosed as perimenopausal or menopausal.

Seventy-nine percent of the women Dr Newson polled had visited their GP multiple times during that period, including 7% who saw their GP 10 times and 27% who consulted more than three doctors at hospital following a referral. Shockingly, 15% of those questioned said they had waited more than six years to receive a diagnosis from their doctor.

Perimenopause is the run-up to menopause when oestrogen production in the ovaries begins to slow (often in our early 40s). This can last anything from 12 months to a decade, and is often when women experience symptoms like the night sweats, hot flushes and anxiety.

Menopause marks 12 months since a woman's last period, when the ovaries have stopped producing eggs. This usually happens in our 50s.

Sweats, low mood, anxiety, memory problems, brain fog and/or joint pains were the most common hormonal symptoms experienced by 70% of the women, aged 45 to 55, polled.

Just 33% percent of the women surveyed were offered treatment: 37% received hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and 23% were given antidepressants. Even though the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) guidelines stipulate that antidepressants should not be prescribed to menopausal women.

Dr Newson said: 'Our survey confirmed that women are still facing delays in getting a diagnosis for their perimenopause and menopause and they’re waiting too long to get HRT, if it’s prescribed at all.'

She recently told Red: 'Because you have symptoms but regular periods, doctors can sometimes misdiagnose depression, anxiety, unexplained fatigue and fibromyalgia.

'The perimenopause is a normal life event, not an illness, but as a result it’s too often under-recognised, under-valued and not taken seriously. Ultimately, the more we talk and learn about the perimenopause, the more empowered we will be.'

Her survey comes as several high-profile women, such as Davina McCall, Zoe Ball, Emma Bunton and Gabrielle Union, have started to speak out about their menopause experiences to help end the taboo.

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