Doctors are ill-trained to recognise symptoms of menopause - as MARIELLA FROSTRUP discovered - Daily Mail
May 13, 2022 3 mins, 6 secs

It was then I realised it's not just women who don't know how the menopause might present itself — many of our medical professionals are equally in the dark.

So I wasn't surprised when it was reported earlier this week that some women are spending years being misdiagnosed with depression because GPs do not know all the symptoms of the menopause. .

Katie Taylor (pictured, founder and chief executive of The Latte Lounge), said earlier this week that it took her four years to be diagnosed with menopause after being sent to a heart specialist and orthopaedic specialist due to her aching bones.

With many women experiencing feelings of anxiety and depression during these years, a trip to the doctors will still too often see them sent away with a prescription for anti-depressants rather than one for HRT.

When I look back on my own perimenopausal experience, which started aged 48, I realise that — those two years of shocking insomnia and anxiety aside — I had a relatively easy time of it, experiencing only five symptoms: insomnia, anxiety, change in mood, restless legs and those two hot flushes.

But when writing my book we interviewed many women who had suffered for years — and are still suffering now — because of the way in which our primary care system is structured, with our overworked GPs expected to be women's health experts without having been given the requisite training.

The Fawcett Society's Menopause In The Workplace report, published last week, found that three in ten women have seen delays in diagnosis and only 40 per cent were offered HRT in a timely fashion.

An earlier study suggested that over a third were being offered antidepressants for their symptoms, despite these not being recommended as first-line treatment, with NICE saying there is 'no clear evidence' that they will help to 'ease low mood in menopausal women who have not been diagnosed with depression'.

A GP who has undergone extra training in menopause will be more aware of these symptoms and of the importance of the correct treatment — surely proof of the wisdom of every doctor being equipped with adequate knowledge

'It is both tragic and disgraceful that women are still frequently failed, dismissed, offered antidepressants or sent off on a round of referrals to rheumatology, cardiology and sometimes psychiatry, costing the NHS valuable time and money and causing needless distress,' says Menopause Support founder Diane Danzebrink

'Nobody expects GPs to be specialists, but simply to be equipped by their medical school and subsequent GP training to recognise symptoms and offer management options for a stage of life that a potential 50 per cent of their patients will experience

'GPs are amazing and cannot be specialists in everything, but the medical school curriculum needs to be brought up to date,' says Katie Taylor, founder and chief executive of The Latte Lounge, which offers support for women over 40

If they gave women and GPs a symptom checklist at our over-40 health check, it would make such a difference.'

And it's not just women who feel frustrated by this

Every GP I've ever spoken to has declared themselves mystified as to why there wasn't more focus or requirement for menopause knowledge during their training

'I am far more likely to see someone with menopausal symptoms than a collapse in my waiting room, and yet we have annual training in that,' she says

'The current RCGP curriculum does cover women's health and within that is menopause, but GPs have to look for it.'

Menopause ought not to be a hard-to-find subsection of women's health, but doctors should have a specific perimenopause and menopause module. 

Even a little more support and education given to our health professionals on the subject would benefit millions of women for generations to come


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