“The menopause resulted in me losing my job. Had I been able to access the right level of support my journey may still have been challenging but I may have been able to navigate the menopause if I had support from my employer and my GP.
“The lack of education and awareness about menopause significantly changed my future and my aim is to ensure that others do not have similar experiences in the future. I volunteer with FTWW to add my patient experience to the professional arena; patient involvement ensures that the reality of services is brought to the forefront.” Lisa Nicholls – FTWW Menopause Champion.
Why does FTWW campaign about menopause?
Women and people assigned female at birth (AFAB)* make up 52% of the population in Wales. At some point, the vast majority will go through the menopause, naturally, or prematurely perhaps as a result of medical or surgical treatment. Although the average age to go through menopause is 51, it can happen at any age.
The majority of women are expected to be able to carry on with caring and employment, often whilst suffering debilitating, sometimes severe, symptoms of menopause – symptoms for which there is little recognition, appreciation, or support – and this is what motivated Lisa to join us and lead our menopause campaigning.
Although improving, there is still a lack of menopause awareness and education about symptoms and hormone replacement therapies (HRT) in primary care (GP surgeries). There also continues to be a lack of general awareness among society from puberty to adulthood. This means many people are not able to make informed decisions about the level of care they will depend upon. One of our key aims is to ensure menopause is a normal part of conversation, starting in schools alongside menstrual health and wellbeing education, for which FTWW successfully campaigned. Menopause also features in the Welsh Government’s Period Proud Strategy, thanks to conversations held with organisations like FTWW.
Menopause specialist care provision varies among health boards, meaning many patients will be victims of a postcode lottery. Many patients find their access to appropriate HRT restricted and they are then unable to treat their symptoms.
What has FTWW done about it?
Lisa joined us to start a petition to improve menopause care and in 2019 we published our co-produced report, Making the Case for Better Menopause Care in Wales.
We co-produced our bilingual Menopause Myths booklet, which challenges assumptions and can be handed out to friends, family, colleagues and healthcare professionals.
Joined by other FTWW volunteers and members, including fellow Menopause Champions, Lara Morris and Dawn Owen, they have had their experiences heard in the media, across health boards and medical settings, workplaces and conferences. Lisa is also one of our main fundraisers, even taking on an ultra-marathon for us!
Lisa and fellow FTWW volunteers also represented patients on the Welsh Government’s All-Wales Menopause Task and Finish Group, whose report and recommendations were published in January 2023. FTWW will be keenly following developments to ensure that the recommendations are implemented.
*Reference in our name and on our website will be to ‘women’ but should be considered inclusive of girls and people assigned female at birth (AFAB), including trans, non-binary, and intersex people – all of whom FTWW supports.