As revolutions go, I’m not sure any have been shared over a DM on Twitter before, but that’s how I was first told about the #MenopauseRevolution.
Be happy? I was ecstatic! Menopause is to be debated in the Houses of Parliament and, less than two years after we founded Pausitivity, public messaging is going to be among the discussion thanks to MP Carolyn Harris.
Carolyn is an amazing campaigning MP and has been a great supporter of the #KnowYourMenopause campaign since our early days. She helped us take the Pausitivity message to Parliament shortly before lockdown and has kept in touch since then. Her own menopause was horrendous and if you haven’t seen my interview with her, please take time to watch it.
What is the #MenopauseRevolution?
It’s exciting, that’s what it is!!!! Basically, Carolyn is leading a Private Members Bill through parliament with the hope that it will pass into law.
The official term of the #MenopauseRevolution is the Menopause (Support and Services) Bill and it has two main goals:
- make hormone replacement therapy (HRT) exempt from prescription charges in England, to match Scotland and Wales;
- take in broader issues around menopause rights, entitlements and education.
She has also launched an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the subject to discuss and explore these issues further.
What is a Private Members Bill?
Some parliamentary explanations are needed, I think (they were for me!). A Private Members Bill is how MPs who aren’t government ministers can try to bring about a new law or make a change to an existing law.
Last week’s reading of the title (there are long and short titles – who says parliament is full of bureaucracy?) was the first step. There are FOUR more stages in the Houses of Commons before it goes to the House of Lords, where there are another five hurdles to jump through.
Nope, we’re not finished there. After that, it returns to the Commons so any amendments the Lords have called for can be debated. This could ping-pong between the two houses, too, until they both reach agreement on the final draft, which is finally put forward for Royal Assent and becomes law.
The next stage of the #MenopauseRevolution is on 29 October, with the Second Reading, when MPs get to debate the main principles.
When I spoke to Carolyn, she said: “The work starts now.” She wasn’t kidding!
And an APPG?
This is an informal group of MPs and peers from across all parties who meet to discuss a particular issue they’re concerned with. Outside groups, organisations and individuals are also often invited to take part in discussions or to give evidence.
While they have no official clout, they are a way of gathering support for a cause and presenting a united front. They can also issue reports that call on the government to act.
Is this UK-wide?
Sadly, not. Health is devolved, which is why Scotland and Wales have been able to give free HRT while the rest of us pay. This will hopefully bring our prescription charge into line with them.
Women have suffered long enough: I’m determined to change that
Announcing the #MenopauseRevolution, Carolyn said: “For far too long, generation after generation of women have been let down, ignored or simply thrown on the scrap heap as a result of the menopause.
“Despite affecting more than half of the world’s population, menopause remains one of the last great taboos – badly funded and rarely discussed in public. It is also poorly understood: in the workplace, in society at large and far too often, even in the doctor’s surgery.
“It is clear that we need both a step change in attitudes, and a change in the law. This starts with the key plank of my Private Members Bill, which asks the NHS in England to follow the lead set in Wales and Scotland and exempt HRT from NHS prescription charges.
“But we know that its about far more than money – it’s also about attitude and education. That’s why our new APPG will be so important. This won’t be a talking shop – it will be a driving force for change. Our menopause inquiry will take in workplace policy, medical school training, public health messaging and school curriculums.
“If the menopause were an illness, or indeed a condition that impacted every man, it’s unlikely that financial support would be so woeful, or public understanding so negligible. Women have suffered long enough – I am determined to change that.”
“It took me almost four years of going back and forth to the GP to get help”
I was over the moon to be asked to give a statement for Carolyn’s press release on the #MenopauseRevolution, saying: “More than one in three MPs will go through menopause so it is brilliant to see some action on this at last. For too long the needs of menopausal women have been ignored, overlooked or downplayed, leaving women suffering in silence and ignorance.
“It took me almost four years of going back and forth to the GP to get help and even then, it was my husband who finally realised all my symptoms were menopause. It has taken another three years to get my HRT right through lack of understanding from my GPs.
“Many women I know have given up with the NHS and paid privately, some into the thousands of pounds for help – money they can barely afford at times. That is why I am so happy to see Carolyn’s Bill enter into parliament so everyone will understand what menopause is and the impact it can have.”
“Far too many women continue to needlessly suffer in silence”
Diane Danzebrink, founder of Menopause Support and the #MakeMenopauseMatter campaign, said: “Improving menopause education, care and support for all women is vital, far too many continue to needlessly suffer in silence and this has to stop. I am grateful to Carolyn Harris for keeping menopause on the parliamentary agenda and for her continued support of the aims of the #MakeMenopauseMatter campaign.”
What can I do to help?
First of all, join our campaign to get public health messaging around menopause.
Around one-third of the UK’s female population are either peri or post-menopausal and it’s estimated that one in four of them will suffer debilitating symptoms that can last more than a decade. Despite this, there is next to no information about this in the very place we go to for help: our local GP health centre.
Seeing a #KnowYourMenopause poster will not only help everyone understand what people go through in menopause, but will make them feel less alone and help break the taboo that surrounds menopause.
Write to your MP, too, both about Pausitivity’s campaign and the #MenopauseRevolution, sharing your own experience of menopause and the support (or lack of it) you have received. You can find out your MP here.
And share your menopause story before the end of September with the APPG – you can contact them at [email protected]
Also, sign the #MakeMenopauseMatter petition. There are nearly 150,000 of us who have so you’re in good company!
And watch this space! I’ll be posting regular updates! Viva la #MenopauseRevolution!
What are your thoughts about free HRT and the #MenopauseRevolution? Let me know in the comments below. And don’t forget to subscribe for your free guide to a happier, healthier menopause.