The British Menopause Society is calling for GP practices to contact all female patients on their 50th birthday with an invitation to register for a "health and lifestyle consultation to discuss a personal health plan for the menopause and beyond."

The Statement, from the BMS Council, is published in the latest issue of Menopause International (link below) and coincides with the BMS annual conference which is being held in Leeds.

The Statement argues that most women are unaware of the impact of the menopause on their health and yet many of the conditions associated with the menopause can have far less impact if simple improvements in lifestyle are adopted.

Professor Mary-Ann Lumsden, Chairman of the BMS, said "Keeping to a sensible weight, exercise, eating sensibly, moderation of alcohol intake and blood pressure control all help reduce heart disease risk. But many women don't know that these measures also reduce the risk of other serious diseases such as breast cancer, cancer of the uterus (womb) and osteoporosis, which affects double the number of people with dementia.

"One fifth of the UK population comprises women over the age of 45. Those 13 million women represent enormous economic potential as both employers and employees because of their experience and knowledge. But they're at risk of developing conditions which are expensive to treat and extremely costly if they end up having to give up work - not to mention the psychological impact."

The BMS Council recommendations argue that giving women the right information about menopause-related health risks at the right time would save money as well as improving women's quality of life. 'If women are properly assessed they can be educated into ways in which they can improve their health risk profile they will lead a longer healthier life.' Professor Lumsden adds, "Women need to be educated to take responsibility for their menopausal health."

Coronary heart disease, stroke and fragility fractures as a result of osteoporosis are a huge part of the current health and social care expenditure; hip fractures alone cost an estimated £5 million per day or £2 billion a year.¹

The Statement makes further recommendations including:
  • The setting up of a Premature Menopause Register by the Department of Health as a priority
  • The Department of Health to provide clear, objective information about current knowledge of the benefits and risks of HRT
  • The reintroduction of free swimming for those over 60
The editors of Menopause International - Dr Eddie Morris and Dr Heather Currie, comment on the Statement in the same issue. With regard to the age 50 health check they say:

"What does this mean in practice and why is this health check so important? A good example of this is a woman reaching 50 who has had no reason to visit her GP except for routine smears, is found during the BMS proposed health check to have a raised body mass index (BMI) of over 35. At the time the GP could work through a prearranged checklist of risk factors with the woman and counsel her appropriately. By highlighting well-known facts such as raised BMI being associated with a high incidence of cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension and diabetes, the GP would also be able to emphasize the lesser known but just as important high risks of breast cancer, endometrial cancer and the fact that obese women are more likely to suffer from worse hot flushes than women with a normal BMI. By raising these issues, it is hoped that such women would become more motivated to reduce their BMI, reduce their risks of the above diseases and thus reduce health care resource utilization and ultimately cost to the NHS."

¹ Osteoporosis in the UK at...Breaking Point. September 2010

Menopause International