Sheffield doctor on 'lifting the lid and not making menopause a taboo subject’
What made you want to specialise in menopause?When I started as a GP, we frequently prescribed HRT to women. As a result of now flawed studies, that changed overnight.There was very little we could offer to menopausal women apart from antidepressants.I think we then lost some skills to recognise what was happening to women.Because menopause symptoms can be so broad, if we focus on one like headaches, it is easy to miss what is happening.I realised that menopause was an area that wasn’t being managed very well. So I set about training myself, gaining more qualifications, and I loved it.It’s not always straightforward as treatments often need tweaking, as well as the fact women often have other health conditions.It is important to join the dots to work out what’s going on and this can be tricky as for women there are other stresses.People can have elderly parents and young children, or they can be at the peak of their careers, so it’s helping women look at all of that.It’s about examining how their lifestyle might be impacting how they feel as well as how their bodies respond to those hormonal changes.I love it because at the heart of being a GP is a lot of health promotion and helping people to look at how their lives can be improved.
Menopause has been in the news a lot – with celebrities like Davina McCall sharing their stories. Do you think it is finally getting the attention it deserves?
It’s a step in the right direction. Until now menopause is something which hasn’t been spoken about and we haven’t fully recognised the impact it can have on women’s lives. It is gaining more exposure.When you live and breathe that world you can feel like ‘everyone knows what menopause is now’ and actually when I give corporate or public talks you realise we are still only at the tip of the iceberg.I know some people might question why celebrities are involved.But I think it’s been useful for gaining exposure.People in those positions might be viewed as having perfect lives so to hear them saying they’ve struggled is quite comforting. Lifting the lid and not making menopause a taboo subject hopefully helps women be more open with themselves, their families and friends.
What kind of impact can menopause have on women?
We estimate that 25 per cent of women will have quite debilitating symptoms.And whilst it can be the commonly known symptoms like hot flushes, actually they are not the symptoms I see women struggling with the most.It tends to be the psychological ones such as anxiety, low mood, feeling overwhelmed, losing confidence, and not having clarity of thought.We know that one in ten women leave their job due to menopausal symptoms because they don’t feel they can cope any more.Women not being able to sleep and the knock-on effect then felt on their lives or relationships is another strand of it.For some women, it really can be all-encompassing.
What makes Myla Health different?
We are menopause specialists, which means we have had extra training and experience looking after women in many different situations.They might have complicated medical histories or not be responding to treatments they have had so far.We can work with them to formulate an individualised care plan.An appointment with us has the time to fully explore all the issues someone is experiencing and discuss treatment options, risks and benefits of different choices.We also work with organisations to help them develop menopause-friendly workplaces.We see people from all over the UK, including online, but I like seeing people face-to-face in Sheffield.
How does it feel when a patient says you made a difference?
That’s what makes my job worthwhile. Especially because at the point at which I see patients their lives can have become very tricky to manage.So the feedback can be fantastic in terms of how much better people feel, and how they’ve appreciated the time to explore what’s going on.I am perimenopausal myself and that’s been good to be able to fully empathise with what people are going through.It’s made me take a hard look at my lifestyle – I’ve got to practice what I preach!