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UCL Press Release

Plans for UK’s first menopause education programme developed by UCL academics

Experts at UCL have teamed up with leading women’s health charities to design a new education and support programme for women across the country experiencing menopause.

The National Menopause Education and Support Programme will be led by Professor Joyce Harper (UCL EGA Institute for Women’s Health), Dr Shema Tariq (UCL Institute for Global Health) and Dr Nicky Keay (UCL Medicine). It is in partnership with Wellbeing of Women and Sophia Forum. The programme also has the support of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and British Menopause Society (BMS).

Recent research by Professor Harper has shown that more than 90% of women were never educated about the menopause at school. Over 60% only started looking for information about it once they began to experience menopausal symptoms*.

It is hoped that this new programme will allow women reaching menopausal age to gain a greater understanding of what is happening to their bodies.

The programme will consist of a course spread over several weeks, where women will be taught alongside other women who are experiencing similar life changes as themselves. The course has been inspired by those offered to pregnant people via the National Childbirth Trust (NCT).  

Women will receive independent, up-to-date and evidence-based menopause education, covering areas such as symptoms and treatments. This will be delivered by trained healthcare professionals. An important element of this new programme will be building connections with other women going through similar experiences, to develop local networks of support.

Professor Harper said: “Research has shown that women are currently poorly educated about the menopause and often go into it not understanding what to expect. Some menopausal symptoms can cause psychological issues and women may mistake their symptoms for mental health issues or other concerning causes, and this can have a negative effect on their wellbeing."

We want to ensure that all women get the information they need to manage the changes they experience in this part of their life, in the best way possible.”

Dr Tariq said: “An important component of this programme will be peer support. Research consistently shows that support from people experiencing similar things to yourself (for instance pregnancy, mental health issues and other health conditions) improves understanding of health conditions or experiences, empowers people to manage their conditions or life experiences, and improves the ability to cope. Research I have conducted with women living with HIV has highlighted the need and strong desire for peer support around menopause.”

This programme is being supported by the Business and Innovation Partnerships and Knowledge exchange funding teams in UCL Innovation & Enterprise.

The team was recently awarded an Innovation Network grant from UCL's Economics and Social Research Council (ESRC)'s Impact Acceleration Account, managed by UCL Innovation & Enterprise. The funding supports the network to co-design, implement and evaluate the programme with the public. It will ensure women are at the heart of the programme alongside key educators, academics, clinicians and businesses.

Professor Geraint Rees, UCL Vice-Provost (Research, Innovation and Global Engagement), said: “The National Menopause Education and Support Programme has the potential to positively impact the lives of women across the country. This project is a wonderful example of how UCL’s knowledge exchange funding and support can help multidisciplinary teams target global issues. I extend my congratulations to the team and wish them every success for the future.”

The team are committed to ensuring this programme has a broad reach and is inclusive of women in all their diversity, as well as ensuring that it is accessible regardless of income.

Janet Lindsay, CEO of Wellbeing of Women, said: “We’re thrilled to be part of this exciting new project to improve menopause education, and we welcome the research approach of co-designing with the voices of women affected.

“Every woman deserves access to high-quality information and menopause support, yet as research from Professor Harper shows, too many women haven’t been given the knowledge they desperately need and deserve. We hope this work will empower a generation of women to understand the changes to their bodies during menopause and access help to manage their symptoms.”

Professor Harper said: “We want to keep the price of the programme low to make it accessible to everyone. We plan to work with companies so they can offer the course to their employees.”

Work to develop the programme will start at UCL in September.

Alongside Professor Harper, Dr Tariq and Dr Keay, those currently on the advisory board** include menopause campaigner and columnist Alice Smellie, founder and host of the Menopause Whilst Black podcast, Karen Arthur, and certified menopause specialist Vikram Talaulikar (Honorary Professor at UCL EGA Institute for Women’s Health and Reproductive Medicine Unit UCLH, BMS).

Mr Talaulikar said: “Women deserve to have easy access to scientific evidence-based information so that they understand the menopausal transition and can make the best choices for them.”

Notes to Editors

For more information, please contact Poppy Danby, UCL Media Relations. T: +44 (0)7733307596, E: p.danby@ucl.ac.uk 

 

* https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/2023/apr/nine-ten-women-were-never-educated-about-menopause

** Please find a full list of advisory board members below:

  • Joyce Harper, Professor in the Institute for Women’s Health UCL, Head of the Reproductive Science and Society Group, co-founder of the UK Fertility Education Initiative and the International Reproductive Health Education Collaboration, undertaking research into menopause knowledge, attitudes and education. Author of “Your Fertile Years”.
     

  • Dr Shema Tariq, Senior Research Fellow at UCL’s Institute for Global Health and Honorary Consultant HIV and Sexual Health Physician at CNWL NHS Foundation Trust. She leads the PRIME Study on menopause in women living with HIV and part of the GROWS (Growing Older Wiser and Stronger) team.

 

  • Dr Nicky Keay, Honorary Clinical Lecturer at UCL and a medical doctor with clinical and research experience in endocrinology, with a particular focus on female hormones. Author of “Hormones, Health and Human Potential”.

 

  • Annice Mukherjee, Consultant endocrinologist and Honorary Professor at Coventry University. Annice is also author of “The Complete Guide to the Menopause”

 

“Direct to public education about Menopause is in its infancy because Menopause has been shrouded in secrecy throughout history until recent years. High-quality research and innovation, led by established academic experts and organisations, are needed to create a robust evidence base to guide future best practice in direct-to-public menopause education. This initiative is timely and much needed.”
 

 

  • Janet Lindsay, CEO of Wellbeing of Women, the charity dedicated to saving and changing the lives of women, girls and babies.
     

  • Mrs Geeta Kumar, Vice President for Clinical Quality at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
     

  • Sophie Strachan, CEO of Sophia Forum, promotes and advocates for the rights, health, welfare and dignity of women living with HIV through research, raising awareness and influencing policy.
     

“This essential training program will ensure the intersecting experiences of people going through the menopause are shared and subsequently be reflected in service design and support”
 

  • Helen Tomlinson, Head of Talent (UK & Ireland) at The Adecco Group, appointed by the UK Government as England’s first ever Menopause Employment Champion. Helen’s Menopause Employment Champion strategy is based on the pillars of Education, Allyship & Cultural change.

 

  • Alice Smellie, health writer and co-writer of “Cracking the Menopause” with Mariella Frostrup. She is also the co-founder of campaign group, Menopause Mandate.

 

  • Rachel Lankester, author of “Magnificent Midlife: Transform Your Middle Years, Menopause and Beyond”, is a midlife mentor, podcast host and founder of Magnificent Midlife, an online hub empowering women 40+ to better health and wellbeing.

"For too long menopause has been shrouded in a profound lack of knowledge, conflicting information, and shame associated with female aging. This fantastic initiative will bring menopause conversations into the mainstream and clarify best advice. Women are supported through childbirth and this initiative will extend similar help and education at menopause. We hope that, in the future, all those experiencing peri/menopause can be prepared, not scared."

 

 

  • Vikram Talaulikar, associate Specialist in Reproductive Medicine, UCLH, Hon Associate Professor in Women's Health, University College London, BMS certified Menopause Specialist, Principal trainer for FSRH Menopause Special Skills Module, Trainer for BMS principles and practice of menopause care
     

  • Ann O’Neill, founder of Adora Digital Health, a woman’s digital health company which uses AI to personalise advice and signposts women to treatment and lifestyle adjustments during the menopause.

 

“Over the past three years, whilst there is generally an increase in awareness around symptoms and the menopause transition, it is also the case that women are just as confused as ever about their options. Having an accessible and trusted source of truth around menopause is what women need so they can start to understand what is going on at this time of life and are empowered to self-manage their journey.”

 

  • Karen Arthur, founder and host of Menopause Whilst Black the podcast, sharing the stories of Black people in any stage of menopause. Karen is also the found of The Joy Retreat Barbados.
     

  • Polly Van Alstyne, Senior Innovation Networks Manager, UCL Innovation & Enterprise

 

 

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Since 1826, we have championed independent thought by attracting and nurturing the world's best minds. Our community of more than 50,000 students from 150 countries and over 16,000 staff pursues academic excellence, breaks boundaries and makes a positive impact on real world problems.
 

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