WOMEN should get counselling free on the NHS to tackle menopause symptoms, health bosses say.
Spending watchdog Nice has recommended cognitive behavioural therapy to reduce hot flushes, sleep problems, depression and night sweats.
CBT is a type of counselling that works by changing people’s behaviour to solve problems and stop negative thoughts.
Experts at the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence said scientific evidence shows it can soften the impact of menopause symptoms caused by hormone changes.
On hot flushes they said: “Most of the benefits were seen in reducing how much women were bothered by the symptoms.”
They added: “The evidence showed that CBT was beneficial for various aspects of sleep, including number of hours of sleep per night, how long it takes someone to fall asleep, and nighttime awakenings.”
Nice’s chief medical officer, Jonathan Benger, said: “It is important that healthcare practitioners take a personalised approach when discussing treatments.”
CBT is already available on the NHS for people with mental health conditions and addictions – but waiting lists can be very long.
The Sun has campaigned for better support for women in our Fabulous Menopause Matters campaign.
Women are saving hundreds of pounds now that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is available for less than £20 per year.
Nice’s latest update also said patients should get clear warnings about the risks of HRT, which can include increased chances of breast cancer.
It called for more research into the health impact of taking extra hormones.
Women’s health minister Maria Caulfield said: “The menopause is a key pillar of our Women’s Health Strategy.
“Nice’s updated guidance shows why research is so important in women’s health, so we can make sure women are offered the support that is right for them.”
Dr Heather Currie, consultant gynaecologist at the British Menopause Society, said: “This update is timely and very much welcomed.
“Greater emphasis on the importance and effectiveness of CBT is well placed, along with clear balancing of benefits and risks of HRT.”
GP and menopause expert Dr Louise Newson added: “CBT may have a place when taking a holistic approach to managing the perimenopause, but it won’t improve every menopause symptom and won’t treat the underlying hormone deficiency.
“HRT is first line treatment to improve symptoms and those who want to take HRT should be able to have it prescribed.
“Frustratingly it is often more common for women to be prescribed antidepressants.”
Fabulous Menopause Matters
An estimated one in five of the UK’s population are currently experiencing it.
Yet the menopause is still whispered in hush tones like it’s something to be embarrassed about.
The stigma attached to the transition means women have been suffering in silence for centuries.
The Sun are determined to change that, launching the Fabulous Menopause Matters campaign to give the taboo a long-awaited kick, and get women the support they need.
The campaign has three aims:
- To make HRT free in England
- To get every workplace to have a menopause policy to provide support
- To bust taboos around the menopause
The campaign has been backed by a host of influential figures including Baroness Karren Brady CBE, celebrities Lisa Snowdon, Jane Moore, Michelle Heaton, Zoe Hardman, Saira Khan, Trisha Goddard, as well as Dr Louise Newson, Carolyn Harris MP, Jess Phillips MP, Caroline Nokes MP and Rachel Maclean MP.
Exclusive research commissioned by Fabulous, which surveyed 2,000 British women aged 45-65 who are going through or have been through the menopause, found that 49% of women suffered feelings of depression, while 7% felt suicidal while going through the menopause.
50% of respondents said there is not enough support out there for menopausal women, which is simply not good enough. It’s time to change that.