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Consultation opens on draft menopause guidelines

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has launched a consultation on draft guidelines to help diagnose and manage the menopause

Draft guidelines on the diagnosis and management of menopause have been published for consultation by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

The drop in the level of the sex hormone oestrogen caused by menopause can cause problems for women including hot flushes and vaginal dryness, and can also lead to long-term conditions including brittle bones (osteoporosis) and cardiovascular disease. 

Around 80% of women experience some menopause symptoms, which typically continue for around four years after their last period. 

The average age at which women experience menopause in the UK is 51, but this can vary widely, with premature menopause affecting one in 100 women under the age of 40. 

The NICE draft guidelines cover when blood tests or imaging can help diagnose menopause, when treatments such as hormone replacement therapy should be offered, and the range of drug and non-drug treatment optiions available.

The guidelines also include advice on offering holistic, individualised care that takes into account the woman’s symptoms and preferences. NICE says clinicians should give support and advice to women who are likely to go through menopause as a result of medical or surgical treatment, including those with cancer, those who are at high risk of hormone-dependent cancer or those having gynaecological surgery. 

NICE Centre for Clinical Practice director Mark Baker said: ‘Menopause affects millions of women, and its symptoms can severely upset a woman’s day to day life. The effects of menopause are often misunderstood and underestimated – it can result in problems ranging from hot flushes to brittle bones, joint stiffness and cardiovascular disease.  

‘When women seek medical help for their symptoms, there is considerable variation in what is offered to them. So NICE is pleased to be developing the first guidelines for the NHS on diagnosing and managing menopause, to help improve the lives of women affected by it.’

The consultation on the draft guidelines closes on July 13.

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