Sadly there is not enough provision for women to really understand perimenopause and menopause and what is happening to them during midlife within the NHS. Some GP's are excellent and some practices do now have a menopause specialist or can refer to a specialist hospital clinic. But equally many women have been left disappointed and confused and not really knowing where to go for menopause help and advice. And a private consultation can be out of reach for so many due to the often huge cost.
But the last few years have seen a big rise in health services within the private arena for women during perimenopause and menopause. I have been contacted by a few of these and will be sharing my experience with the different options over the coming weeks and months.
On this blog post I am telling you about Health & Her and their new affordable online menopause clinic.
With Health & Her you can see a menopause GP online for an in-depth review of your symptoms, tailored treatment plans and prescription recommendations.
What should you do if you suspect you are experiencing symptoms of perimenopause?
First of all arm yourself with a menopause symptom checker and make. notes!
You can either go to the Health & Her Symptom Checker, this is an online tool and really easy to use.
Or if you prefer paper there is one available in the files section of The Menopause Support Network facebook page. There are lots of other really useful documents in there too!
You might be surprised at the symptoms you can experience. Things you really didn't think would be related to menopause at all (anxiety, difficulty sleeping, migraines, dry eyes, oral health changes, feeling dizzy or faint, restless legs, digestive issues and many more).
Then you need a consultation, either with your own GP or ask for a referral to a menopause specialist which will be a GP at your practice or a clinic at the hospital.
However, if you have already been down this route and not had a very successful outcome then don't despair! Don't give up!
Health & Her have just launched an online menopause clinic in addition to their very detailed website where they offer practical expert advice and handpicked products for women experiencing perimenopause and menopause.
I was asked if I would like to try the online consultation out. I was really impressed with the knowledge, kindness and efficiency of not only the whole process but by the specialist GP I had my consultation with.
Let's face it, a ten minute GP appointment is nowhere near enough, especially if you have felt let down before. But to go private is often out of reach financially. So Health & Her wanted to come up with a more affordable and more accessible option for women's health. It was a concept that became even more relevant with GP's thrust into working via phone and video consultation during the (ongoing) Covid-19 pandemic.
GP's all have their own specialities but if your GP does not have an interest in women's health then they simply don't understand what you are going through and are not best equipped to help.
Booking my appointment with Health & Her was really simple and easy. And the cost is far more accessible than most private consultations. It is £95 for a 30 minute online / video consultation.
To book, go to Health & Her SEE A DOCTOR, and the whole process is easy even to the most challenged technophobes!
I was sent a confirmation email and instructions on how to follow the link to access the consultation. I was advised to 'arrive' a little earlier and had to wait 'in the waiting room', but it was so simple. The consultation is completely private and via a video call, I had no connection problems and the conversation was not interrupted with any internet issues.
My appointment was with Dr Heidi Kerr. Dr Kerr and her colleague Dr Hobbs, both female GP's, also run a health education company together. And it was this experience that helped them make the decision to get involved in the new Health & Her service, they fully support the need to make women's health accessible and affordable.
Now obviously I already understand where I am with my menopause journey and do not need help with HRT but I still found my 30 minute chat with Dr Kerr useful and reassuring. She is friendly, approachable, kind, understanding and very knowledgable. I explained my history with the progesterone and we talked about my 6-monthly uterine scans. We also discussed the risks of HRT - and the confusion and misunderstanding around these risks!! She agreed with my conclusion, that I can stay on HRT as long as I want to, probably for the rest of my life and as long as I get regular check-ups and am monitored then I am not at an increased risk. In fact I am protecting myself from so many other health concerns - heart disease, osteoporosis and dementia (more research needed) - see the NICE guidelines here. Please note that body. identical oestrogen gel or patches are a safer option (instead of tablets).
After my appointment Dr Kerr emailed me a report with a note of our discussion. She explained the importance of my 6-monthly scans to check my endometrial thickness (this is not a recommended alternative to progesterone - I have had an endometrial ablation but ideally I should still take progesterone and I would if I could). And she also said I must ensure I have an annual free androgen index (blood test) to check my testosterone levels.
If you do decide to take HRT - body identical gel is the best, the gold standard in oestrogen (or patches but I found them a bit of a nuisance and my body did not absorb the oestrogen so well from them), if you still have a womb then you need to take Utrogestan (body identical progesterone) or have a Mirena Coil fitted. If you can't tolerate the progesterone then there are lower doses that are acceptable but you would need a specialist to help you navigate this and the NHS do not like to deviate from the official guidance. It is possible to be prescribed testosterone and women do need it! It is not just a male hormone! But again this isn't simple on the NHS although not impossible.
Also note that even if you do have your initial consultation with a private menopause specialist you can still receive your prescriptions on the NHS. Mine have been completely transferred back to my own GP and I only need to continue getting my scans privately.
Please note: seeing a private menopause GP is not the same as a private clinic offering non-regulated / bio identical HRT from a compounding pharmacy (cBHRT). Please see my post here for further details on the differences. A specialist menopause GP will prescribe regulated Body Identical HRT (rBHRT), which is the best available.
So that's it, easy! I am not suggesting everyone should go private or needs to go private, there are some excellent GP's who do understand menopause. But sadly not enough of them. My own GP was superb but we agreed I needed a second opinion due to my intolerance to the progesterone. But she has since taken back my care and is happy to support the private specialists recommendations and issue NHS prescriptions.
But if you do need to go private then this is one of the alternatives that are popping up and I was very impressed with what Health & Her are offering.
Other posts in my menopause series include:
10 Tips for Managing Menopause
Peri Menopause | Why I decided to take HRT
The best duvet for menopause and night sweats
Disclaimer: my 30 minute menopause consultation was offered to me free of charge as part of the testing phase for the Health & Her SEE A DOCTOR service, I was under no obligation to write a review on my blog.
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Hi, I’m Michelle and my blog Fifty & Fab is all about my journey into and through my fifties. I share style tips, health and fitness inspiration, I talk about my holidays and days out and I tell you about my beauty regime and my lifestyle. I hope you might pick up a tip or two and get some inspiration!
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