The menopause is a natural part of ageing and affects a huge number of women at any given time. However, it and its affects have long been dismissed and ignored. I believe that public understanding of menopause should be improved so that women no longer feel they need to suffer in silence.
Carolyn Harris MP withdrew her Menopause (Support Services) Bill on 29 October 2021. This was because the Government has said that whilst it will not exempt hormone replacement therapy (HRT) from prescription charges entirely, it will reduce the costs and improve access to HRT.
Where it is clinically appropriate, one prescription charge will be able to be paid per year, instead of every month or every three months. A cross-party taskforce to improve support for those experiencing the menopause will also be established.
I would like to pay tribute to Carolyn Harris MP – this change will make a difference to the lives of so many women across the country.
I believe that this is just the start of the menopause revolution. However, more widely, we need to ensure that medical professionals are able to recognise when women are menopausal so that HRT can be prescribed, eradicating the lengthy waits. Women must be able to access accurate information on menopause to dispel the myths once and for all.
In addition, I would like to see menopause awareness training for employers to help reduce stigma and to ensure that women are getting appropriate support and advice. We must also recognise the cornerstone of normalising menopause in education in schools, including in relationship and sex education classes.
In March 2021, the Government launched a 12-week call for evidence to better understand women’s experiences of the health and care system for its Women’s Health Strategy. The strategy is expected to be published this autumn, and I will continue to support calls for the Government to explain what it is doing to hear the voice of perimenopausal and menopausal women in it.
I can assure you that I will continue to follow developments and support progress in the UK’s approach to the menopause.