An overview of menopause, and why this should feature within pre-registration education
Background: Over half the population (51%) of England and Wales is female, most of whom will experience menopause, either as a result of endocrine ageing or medical treatment. Aim: The project aimed to undertake a review of the literature to determine the level of knowledge about menopause that healthcare students are exposed to, and to highlight why it is important for them to have an understanding of this subject both for their own clinical practice and for supporting colleagues in the workplace. Method: A literature review was conducted by the project team. Findings: There is a lack of education for healthcare students, who will go on to care for those affected by menopause, and will also work with colleagues experiencing menopause. Conclusion: Educational programmes should include menopause as a component, which will allow for a breaking down of barriers on a subject that is still generally considered taboo. Recommendations: A national audit should be conducted on menopause coverage in UK pre-registration nursing. The addition of menopause to the Liverpool John Moores University pre-registration nursing curriculum is also recommended based on agreed competencies.
Women make up over half the population (51%) of England and Wales (Office for National Statistics (ONS), 2022a), and most will experience menopause at some point in their lives as a result of endocrine ageing or the consequences of medical treatment (Mosconi et al, 2021). The ONS figure of 51% includes those identifying as women, and trans men and women, who may or may not be affected by menopause (ONS, 2022a).
Menopause transition significantly affects both a woman’s physical and mental health, with 75% experiencing vasomotor symptoms, 60% urogenital symptoms and 45% psychogenic symptoms (Peacock and Ketvertis, 2022).The parts of the body affected include the brain, thyroid, teeth and gums, colon, skin, eyes, cardiac system, endocrine system and bones. Menopause not only concerns the individual woman herself, but it can also often indirectly affect partners, families and colleagues. Menopause can last up to 9 years (Paramsothy et al, 2017) and causes symptoms such as irregular periods, brain fog, anxiety and mood swings. Anecdotally, the average age at which a woman experiences menopause in the UK is 51 years old. The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that worldwide natural menopause generally occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 years (WHO, 2023).
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