Mumsnet, which represents around 8m female users and hosts a menopause discussion board with more than 25,000 posts annually, accused NICE of ‘fear mongering’ about the risks of HRT, noting that women already have to fight to get access to treatment when in perimenopause or menopause. In the past year, there have been more than 14,000 posts on Mumsnet related to HRT, with around four posts every day from women who have had difficulty accessing the treatment.
The response was also critical of the suggestion that cognitive behavioural therapy should be offered on a par with HRT, particularly given concerns about a lack of availability.
Mumsnet described the use of “troublesome” to describe perimenopause and menopause symptoms as “patronising” and “deeply offensive”, adding that it suggests a failure by NICE to grasp the scale of the effect such symptoms can have. In a survey last year, 28% of Mumsnet users who were considering leaving work said they were enjoying work less because of the menopause, and 11% of those who had left said it was because of the effect of the menopause.
Justine Roberts, Mumsnet founder and CEO, said:
“We know from thousands of posts on Mumsnet that women already struggle to access the HRT they are entitled to. We hear daily from women in perimenopause and menopause who are battling against a toxic combination of entrenched misogyny, misinformation, and lack of knowledge amongst GPs. Too often, they are fobbed off or told they simply need to put up with severe physical and mental symptoms - often with life-changing effects.
“By emphasising the negative over the positive, failing to include information about the safest forms of HRT, and placing CBT on a par with hormone replacement therapy, this guidance will worsen that struggle. It will make doctors more reluctant to prescribe HRT, and women more fearful about asking for or accepting it.
“Lack of research and information around health issues that specifically affect women is an important factor in the often poor treatment that they experience. Women deserve to be properly informed about their options in perimenopause and menopause, and they deserve to be treated by equally well-informed practitioners. This guidance undermines those rights, and it is a step backwards for women’s healthcare.”
You can find the full response here.