Menopause Over-Medicalization Concerns: Experts Urge Shift Towards ‘Health Empowerment’ in the UK

As menopause gains increased attention in the UK, experts are raising concerns about its over-medicalization, urging a shift toward viewing it as a natural phase of aging rather than a disease.

In a Lancet publication, these experts argue for a new approach focused on ‘health empowerment,’ providing women with the knowledge and self-determination to manage their health during this life stage.

Menopause Moment in the UK: Overemphasis on Negative Experiences

The current narrative surrounding menopause, described as a ‘menopause moment,’ is criticized for overemphasizing negative experiences and treating menopause primarily as a medical issue.

The experts suggest that attributing various symptoms to menopause may overlook other contributing factors, such as stress from life events like raising children or work.

Empowering Women: A Call for ‘Health Empowerment’ Approach

Advocating for a paradigm shift, the experts propose a health empowerment approach to menopause.

This involves providing women with comprehensive knowledge, confidence, and the ability to self-manage their health.

While acknowledging the importance of symptom management, the experts caution against a medicalized view that may lead to over-treatment.

Consideration of Lifestyles: A Holistic Approach to Menopause Management

Doctors are urged to consider women’s lifestyles, including factors like sleep, alcohol intake, and smoking, which can influence menopausal symptoms.

Alternatives such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and hypnosis are suggested, emphasizing a holistic approach that goes beyond traditional hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Realistic Information on HRT: Managing Expectations and Potential Risks

For women opting for HRT, the experts recommend providing realistic information about the likely effects of treatment, potential residual symptoms, and the possibility of symptoms recurring after treatment cessation.

This approach aims to empower women to make informed decisions about their health.

Second Study: No Universal Increase in Mental Health Risks During Menopause

A separate study found no compelling evidence of a universal increase in mental health disorders during the menopause transition.

The researchers emphasized the need to challenge misconceptions that menopause universally heralds a decline in physical and mental health.

Challenging Misconceptions: Menopause as Part of Healthy Aging

Professor Martha Hickey, a co-author of the study, stressed the importance of challenging the misconception of menopause as always being a medical issue.

The researchers advocate for viewing menopause as part of healthy aging, acknowledging that many women lead rewarding lives during and after menopause.

Diverse Perspectives: Medical Condition vs. Natural Transition

While some experts argue against the characterization of menopause as merely a collection of symptoms, the study encourages a broader perspective.

Dr. Lydia Brown emphasized that menopause is culturally significant, and its recognition as a natural part of healthy aging could alleviate fear and trepidation associated with it.

Prescriptions Surge: ‘Davina Effect’ and Awareness Impacting HRT Use

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) prescriptions for menopausal women have seen a significant surge, attributed to the ‘Davina effect’ and heightened awareness of menopause.

TV personality Davina McCall’s documentaries and the efforts of campaigners have contributed to an increased understanding of menopause and its management.

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