Changes and improvements observed over time in the care of women diagnosed with early menopause: Health Practitioners’ perspectives

The health practitioners we interviewed reflected on how the care of women diagnosed with early menopause (EM) had changed over the course of their careers.

Changes in the care of women diagnosed with spontaneous EM or POI

The increase in women’s awareness of spontaneous EM or POI was viewed as a positive change by health practitioners. Obstetrician-gynaecologist Dr C reflected that women now have ‘more awareness of the fact they [can] have problems [such as POI],’ whereas when she first started practicing medicine, ‘a lot of women just didn’t realise that that was it. It was quite convenient that they didn’t get periods.’

A few health practitioners commented that women now participate more actively in decisions about their treatment. Others noted that the Internet made information more readily available to them and women. They commented that the Internet has changed how care is organised and made it easier for health practitioners to remain updated on the latest research and guidelines.

For Dr Barker, a general practitioner, women have become more involved in decision-making about the treatment of EM symptoms, and health practitioners have more resources to help women.

Endocrinologist Dr D discussed how the Internet has transformed care for women diagnosed with EM and made research easier for health practitioners.

Another positive change some health practitioners had noticed was that women diagnosed with spontaneous EM or POI are being referred to fertility specialists earlier (see Fertility and early menopause) and Referrals and coordination of care for early menopause).

Dr K, a fertility specialist, commented on changes in the area of fertility preservation for women diagnosed with spontaneous EM or POI.

A few health practitioners reflected on changes they had observed over their careers in relation to the use of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for the management of EM symptoms (see Symptoms of early menopause) and Hormone-based medications for early menopause). Dr S, a medical oncologist, observed that ‘the pendulum has swung towards HRT again for the general population although the use has much reduced. In the non-breast cancer population, we are seeing that some women are using oestrogen…’ In addition, for general practitioner Dr Ee, newer formulations of HRT, such as transdermal HRT, are ‘very convenient’ and ‘a welcome alternative to having to take a pill…’

Obstetrician-gynaecologist Dr Baber explained how approaches to HRT have changed following the findings of the 2002 Women’s Health Initiative study. 

Dr D, an endocrinologist, offered her thoughts on the changes in pharmacological treatment options for EM symptoms.

Changes observed in the care of women diagnosed with EM following cancer treatment

Several health practitioners reflected on the changes that had occurred during their careers in the care of women diagnosed with EM following cancer treatment, particularly in relation to the management of EM symptoms (see Symptoms of early menopause) and Non-hormone based medications for early menopause symptoms after oestrogen-sensitive cancers). For breast care nurse Ms Hay, ‘early menopause [is now] recognised as an actual ailment that needs to be managed, it’s not just being brushed under the carpet and accepted as such, particularly when it’s as a result of cancer treatments…’

Some felt that the impact of EM symptoms on women’s quality of life is now taken more seriously by health practitioners, for example through increasing referrals to menopause clinics in recent years. Dr S, a medical oncologist, said: ‘I would say that people are referring more often to the menopause clinic than they used to. So, I have sent more women to the menopause clinic in the last five years than I would have in the previous five years’ (see Menopause clinics) and Referrals and coordination of care for early menopause).

Medical oncologist Dr Richardson reflected on the changes to treatment of EM symptoms and long-term health impacts following cancer treatment. 

Dr C, an obstetrician-gynaecologist based in a regional area, commented on changes in the care of women diagnosed with EM following cancer treatment.

Further information

Talking Points (Health Practitioners)

Talking Points (Women)

Other resources