Menopause clinics: Health Practitioners’ perspectives

Menopause clinics are services where women can access specialist advice about their menopausal symptoms. Based within metropolitan hospitals or as private clinics, menopause clinics are staffed by health practitioners with expertise in menopause, including gynaecologists, endocrinologists and mental health practitioners, often as part of a multidisciplinary team. They can offer advice on managing menopausal symptoms (including lifestyle, pharmacological and non- pharmacological therapies) and the long term health implications of menopause (e.g. osteoporosis) (see Symptoms of early menopause) and Long-term health effects of early menopause).

Most health practitioners we interviewed saw menopause clinics as very important services for women experiencing early menopause (EM). Menopause clinics were described as particularly suitable for women experiencing more severe symptoms needing specialist advice and care. Reflecting on her experience as an oncologist caring for women diagnosed with early menopause following cancer treatment, Dr S said that ‘[oncologists] are referring more often to the menopause clinic than they used to.’ She saw this as a ‘positive change’ as it indicated oncologists were taking menopausal symptoms seriously.

Dr S, an oncologist, shared her reflections on the benefits of menopause clinics for women with medically induced EM. 

Dr Richardson, an oncologist, explained how he and his colleagues refer women to menopause clinics.

Menopause clinics were seen as limited in number, particularly in regional areas. None of the three regional health practitioners interviewed referred to metropolitan menopause clinics, primarily for reasons of distance and the associated costs to patients. Dr Barker, a general practitioner based in a small regional town, referred women to endocrinologists in a nearby regional centre and relied on those endocrinologists to refer women to further specialist help if needed. Dr C, a regionally-based gynaecologist, said: ‘I would more likely just ring someone and say, “Look, help. I don’t know what to do in this woman’s case,” – I’ve got a little bunch of people that I ring.’ A couple of health practitioners also discussed the role of telehealth services for women living in regional areas.

An endocrinologist based at a menopause clinic, Dr W discussed access problems for regional and remote women.

Menopause clinics were seen as difficult to access even for women with EM living in metropolitan areas. Because there are so few menopause clinics, most have lengthy referral times (see Referrals and coordination of care for early menopause).

Dr Baber, an obstetrician-gynaecologist, speculated on the reasons for the lack of menopause clinics and described his efforts to inform GPs about his practice’s expertise in early menopause.

Some health practitioners felt that waiting times menopause clinics could be improved, for example by discharging patients once their symptoms improved, allowing new patients to be seen. Dr P, a breast surgeon, said: ‘streamlining, is something that I think we need to do better’. She also commented that patients ‘get sick of coming to hospitals for appointments … it’s got a lot of connotations of unhappiness. Maybe we need a community-based service’.

Dr Baker, a breast surgeon, offered her thoughts on how access to menopause clinics could be improved.

Other concerns with menopause clinics health practitioners expressed included the brief duration of appointments – a particular issue for regional women – and, related to this, a perceived tendency to prescribe drug-based treatments rather than provide women with ‘health-coaching’ or other non-medical options. Nonetheless, menopause clinics were widely seen by practitioners as ‘excellent’ services.

Further information

Talking Points (Health Professionals)

Talking Points (Women)

Other resources