Women flock to expensive private clinics for help with menopause symptoms due to NHS waiting lists, study suggests
- A poll shows that five times more women went private this year than last year
- Online Menopause Center survey suggests dissatisfaction with NHS
- Nearly a third said they did not feel supported by their GP about menopausal health
Women are flocking to expensive private menopause clinics because of the lack of available NHS care, a study has suggested.
The poll found that in the past year, five times as many women sought paid medical attention for symptoms such as hot flashes and sexual discomfort compared to the previous year.
In July 2021, only two percent of women admitted to opting for private treatment. Now this figure has risen to one in ten.
The results of the survey of nearly 1,000 women by a private online menopause center suggest that this trend may be due to dissatisfaction with NHS services.
Four in ten women rated their NHS experience with menopause care as poor or very poor, compared to just one in ten in 2021.
Nearly a third said they did not feel supported by their GP when it came to their menopausal health.
dr. Philippa Kaye, a high-profile primary care physician focused on improving women’s health, said the surge in demand may also be due to celebrities such as Davina McCall advocating for greater support for women in menopause.
CAMPAIGN: Davina McCall (pictured) calls for more help for women in menopause
“Greater public awareness encourages more women to get treatment — this is good because it means more women are asking for the help they need,” she said.
“But at the same time, GP services are under enormous pressure from staff shortages. NHS wait times to see a menopause specialist can be up to a year.
“This has created a perfect storm where patients can choose to pay for treatment in a private clinic.”
There is also a worrying increase in the number of women being prescribed antidepressants as a treatment option, with five percent receiving it in 2021, compared to 13 percent in 2022.
dr. Kaye said, “Antidepressants can be used to treat menopausal symptoms, but for anxiety and depression in perimenopause, they should not be offered as a first-line treatment.”
The survey found that more than 70 percent feel that there is not enough information about menopause available to them.
dr. Kaye added: ‘Women’s health remains under-supported and that can lead women to feel that their concerns about menopause are being brushed aside by health professionals, including GPs.
“I’d like to see more independent data on this topic, especially on the reasons for going private, so we can improve access to menopausal treatment for everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.”