Female councillors in Clare have spoken of the need to remove taboos on conversations about menopause.
Citing a “huge unmet need”, a joint motion from Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF), Cllr Ann Norton (IND), Cllr Donna McGettigan (SF) and Cllr Susan Crawford (GP) issued a plea to the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly (FF) and the Department of Health to bring in improvements surrounding menopausal care in Ireland.
They asked that more funding be provided in hospitals and general care, that a campaign be initiated to inform the public of the multiple and diverse symptoms attributable to menopause, that all necessary resources be in place to allow Irish Gps upskill in this area, they sought the introduction of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) “body identicals” in drugs schemes and for more communication with health insurance companies to ensure that menopausal care coverage is provided.
This motion was sparked following a week-long series on Joe Duffy’s Liveline in May where women of the country shared their stories on menopause including many of whom were put on anti-depressants when they should have been on HRT and others flagging how HRT was wrongly characterised with causing cancer.
Dr. Deirdre Lundy, specialist in Women’s Health highlighted that Ireland has no faculty of sexual and reproductive health, “we have either have a gynaecology surgeon or a GP”. In the UK, a faculty of sexual and reproductive health manages menopause, “I use their guidelines because we don’t have any Irish equivalent. Were I in the UK, I’d be a consultant in sexual and reproductive health, but we don’t have that, so I’m just a doctor,” Dr Lundy stated.
Speaking at a recent meeting of the County Council, Cllr Norton detailed that menopause was something every woman had to go through. “It is hugely important that we as women got to highlight the issues we have. I think it would be a fantastic opportunity if the Minister would look at putting the supports in place, not alone medical supports but a lot of women can’t get HRT so they need alternative therapy”.
She added, “I hope it opens up this conversation, we shouldn’t be ashamed to talk about going through the menopause at whatever stage of our lives, men need to understand that we are the ones that bear the children and go through the menopause”.
Health professionals and policy makers must be aware that a high amount of women were misdiagnosed when they shouldn’t have been, Cllr McGettigan commented. Exercise and diet were important aspects of pre-menopausal care, Cllr Crawford said.
Of the twenty four male county councillors, Cllr Joe Killeen (FF) was the only one to speak on the motion. He remarked that it was surprising and alarming to hear “the misdiagnoses of the symptoms and the help available didn’t seem to be redirected to them”.
“I had to think long and hard about putting down this motion, people like us in elected positions need to dispel myths and taboos. If I’m learning that in 2021 that our women in Ireland are not getting the same level of care than those across the sea then I’m going to act,” Colleran Molloy concluded.
Officials within the Department of Health have acknowledged the passed motion but have not commented further on the matter.