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Healthcare ignorance on menstrual conditions blasted by report

There is a ‘critical need’ to raise awareness on women’s menstrual health, according to the Royal College of Nursing

There is a ‘critical need’ to raise awareness on women’s menstrual health, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) as they responded to a government report.

Informed Choice – a report looking into women’s awareness of information surrounding endometriosis – was published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Women’s Health on 27 March.

Out of more than 2,600 women surveyed by the APPG, 62% were not satisfied with the information they received from their healthcare professionals about the condition and 67% said they got most of their information from the internet.

Endometriosis affects one in 10 women and, causing chronic pain, heavy periods, painful sex and depression, as cells found in the lining of the womb appear elsewhere in the body, building up and breaking down during menstruation with no way to be expelled from the body. This can lead to inflammation, pain and the formation of scar tissues.

The RCN has named clinical nurse specialist as healthcare staff in a ‘prime position’ to respond to patients suffering from the condition if they are better-prepared to do so.

RCN professional lead for midwifery and women’s health Carmel Bagness said: ‘This report shows the critical need to raise awareness of menstrual health problems across the country – among women and within the health service itself.

‘We urgently need to change how these conditions are viewed. All health care staff need to be fully prepared to support women and empower them to manage their conditions by providing all the information available.

‘Clinical nurse specialists are in a prime position to provide high level individualised care. It is vital they receive the training and the recognition they need to enhance this area of care, so all women get the treatment they need and deserve.’

The report found 86% of NHS Trusts could not provide information as to how many diagnostic tests were needed to diagnose endometriosis and 40% of women surveyed needed 10 GP appointments or more before being referred to a specialist.

APPG chair Paula Sherriff MP said: ‘All too often I have heard of women being marginalised and side-lined when they try to seek help, dismissed and not taken seriously. This needs to stop. Women have a right to be heard and they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect at all times.

‘These conditions are common in the population and yet there is a chronic lack of awareness, often by healthcare professionals at all levels and frequently in the general public. It is vital that we talk about these conditions, that ‘women’s problems’ are not stigmatised and we learn to talk openly around what is normal pain and what is not.’