Resources for women diagnosed with early menopause: Health Practitioners’ perspectives

Early menopause (EM) can have significant impacts on women’s emotional and physical health (see Personal and emotional impact of early menopause on women) and Non-hormone based medications for early menopause symptoms after oestrogen-sensitive cancers). Women experiencing EM need good quality care and support to deal with their symptoms (see Symptoms of early menopause) and the emotional impact of EM.

The health practitioners we interviewed mentioned several useful services and information sources for women diagnosed with EM, including both Australian (e.g. Australasian Menopause Society, Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, Breast Cancer Network Australia, Cancer Council Australia and international resources (e.g. International Menopause Society and The Daisy Network). Dr C, an obstetrician-gynaecologist noted: ‘The internet has made the world a lot easier … because now there are decent sites.’

Obstetrician-gynaecologist Dr Baber described the range of Australian and international resources that are available to both women and health practitioners.

Although credible information sources about and services for EM exist, several health practitioners commented that they can be difficult to find, and that many women and health practitioners are not aware of them. Dr Richardson, a medical oncologist, suggested that it would be helpful to have online ‘a list of people that actually treat [EM] so practitioners would know – I know a lot of GPs that struggle with patients.’

Dr D, an endocrinologist, described the challenges of making ‘good resources’ on EM easier to find for both women and health practitioners.

The importance of being able to refer women to credible sources of information, particularly in relation to helping them with decisions about treatment and care, was noted by a number of health practitioners. As Ms Hay, a breast care nurse, remarked: ‘that’s [the] importance of … being aware of what’s available, sharing it with the women and empowering them to make choices.’

For Dr Barker, a general practitioner, it is important to refer women to credible resources to enable them to make informed decisions.

Several health practitioners emphasised that information sources need to be tailored for individual women, particularly younger women diagnosed with EM. In endocrinologist Dr D’s experience, ‘you don’t want to give [young women] things that are talking at an older age group, because it can be very overwhelming and frightening and they just don’t get it.’

Dr W, an endocrinologist, explained that there are few options for information and services targeting young women, and commented on the need for resources to help women navigate the healthcare system.

For women experiencing EM following cancer treatment, a few health practitioners commented that information and services from organisations such as the Breast Cancer Network Australia, Counterpart and Think Pink were useful sources of support. Ms Hay, a breast care nurse, explained that some women may find ‘telephone support services [by] the Cancer Council’ helpful as ‘they’re coordinated by fully trained volunteers who have quite often … experienced a similar scenario’. However she noted that this option may not suit everyone as some women ‘get a bit tired of retelling their story.’

For breast care nurse Ms Lewis, organisations that support women diagnosed with cancer can be particularly useful for the management of EM symptoms as they promote lifestyle changes such as exercise.

Further information

Talking Points (Health Practitioners)

Talking Points (Women)

Other resources