A north-east MSP has called for more menopause specialist clinics to be established across Scotland to help women get support for their symptoms.
Gillian Martin, who represents Aberdeenshire East, said “many women” have been unable to get the help they need from their GP and have had to go private as a result.
Speaking ahead of a menopause awareness event in the north-east today, Ms Martin said the time in a woman’s life when her periods stop is “complex” with women experiencing “different symptoms and severity”.
She said: “We need women to have access to specialists. I was lucky my GP was great and got me sorted out quickly – this hasn’t been a lot of women’s experience though.
“This isn’t necessarily a criticism of GPs – you can’t expect GPs to have the specialist knowledge – but they should have more and fast referral options.”
Ms Martin’s remarks follow the launch of the Scottish Government’s women’s health plan, which outlines 66 actions including the creation of specialist menopause services.
The menopause is a natural part of ageing that usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age, as a woman’s oestrogen levels decline.
Periods usually start to become less frequent over a few months or years before they stop altogether or they can stop suddenly.
Menopause workplace policy
The SNP politician once used a parliamentary agenda for a makeshift fan when she was experiencing a hot flush during a debate in the Scottish Parliament in 2019.
She has campaigned for a menopause workplace policy over the last year to encourage employers to create bespoke menopause policies.
These could range from flexibility on breaks, better ventilation at work areas and flexible working.
Ms Martin added: “I think menopause has to be framed in a way that is something that happens naturally to all women, and not a disease, condition and certainly not something to be sniggered at.
“There’s a danger that employers might view middle-aged women at menopausal age as a problem if this isn’t handled right.
“A little understanding of what a menopausal woman might be going through and a willingness to make some adjustments to help her get on with her work shouldn’t be a big deal.”
Raise awareness with employers
Donna Christie, an Aberdeenshire-based wellness coach, is also on the bill for today’s menopause event at Garioch Heritage Centre in Inverurie.
Along with colleague Tess Day, the pair want to raise awareness with employers and encourage them to look at the procedures they have in place.
The 57-year-old had her own problems accessing support after being diagnosed with peri-menopause in around 2012.
She added: “I was diagnosed as peri-menopausal through a blood test but then that was it. There was no leaflet; there was no support.”
The ‘Ladies! Do you know your menopause?’ event takes place at Garioch Heritage Centre in Inverurie from 12 noon.