Setting the Record Straight on Hot Flushes - as Women Lift Lid on the Menopause

Sunday, December 5, 2010

OXFORD, England, December 6, 2010 - A ground-breaking website today lifts the lid on the menopause - and
could save women from suffering alone, misunderstood by unsympathetic
partners and sniggering workmates.

The new section of award-winning features
46 women from all walks of life - who reveal "everything you wanted to know
but were afraid to ask" in frank audio and video interviews.

The project, run by University of Oxford researchers, showed that while
some women sailed through the menopause, others suffered severe symptoms. The
interviews include experiences about the onset of the menopause, coping day
to day with symptoms, relationships, sex and contraception, HRT and work.

Like all Healthtalkonline sections, the Menopause site is designed to
help others in the same situation, and healthcare professionals - but this
one could go much further, as an invaluable source of information for
partners, families and even employers.

"All women - and their partners - should look at said Dr Jenny Hislop,
lead researcher and a member of the Health Experiences Research Group at the
University of Oxford.

"It will give men a thorough understanding of what their partner is going
through by reading about real women's experience of the menopause. And the
website should also be required viewing for anyone whose life is affected by
a woman going through the menopause whether it's their mum, their employee,
their boss or their patient."

Dr Hislop paid tribute to the women's courage in talking about a
sensitive subject online: "To many, the menopause is still taboo, and they
have helped bring it out into the open."

A key aspect is the impact of the menopause on relationships at home and
work. While some women found their partners supportive, many acknowledged
that mood swings and other symptoms could put a strain on relationships.

One interviewee, Cheryl says frankly: 'I was not able to cope and I would
fly off the handle at the slightest thing. And I'd be more critical, my poor
husband suffered I think. I became quite nit picking about things and I think
he found that difficult."

Maria, 42, a supermarket assistant, experienced "unbelievable" hot
flushes, leaving her dizzy, faint and miserable, and so tried to engage her
workmates: "I do try to explain to these guys but they don't want to know.
They're not interested. It's just a joke; you get your blonde jokes, you get
your menopause jokes."

But another interviewee, Rhonda, insists that "even when you get quite
moody", talking is the way forward.

And the more detail and explanation, the better, she says: "Rather than
just saying, 'Oh, I'm having a hot flush, I'm taking my jacket off' it's far
better if a woman understands, and, at the right time, explains the
physiological changes that are taking place." The partner, she says, needs to
recognise "that if you have got an arm round them or they're feeling hot,
they're not shrugging you off because they don't want you near them, they…
just need that space."

Worst of all, is the thoughtless comment, according to Liz who had her
menopause at 36. She said: "Don't tell us 'it's your hormones, love…'".

The website highlights the way the current confusion over the safety of
HRT has made it difficult for women to know how best to treat disabling
symptoms such as hot flushes.

"Some women explain how HRT has been a force for good in their lives.
Others have followed their GP's advice and stopped taking it despite serious
menopausal problems. A third section has felt they had to take HRT to deal
with their menopausal symptoms while feeling that they were playing Russian
roulette with their long-term health," said Dr Hislop.

"Amid all this uncertainty, there's worrying evidence that too many women
feel they're not getting the support they need from their healthcare
practitioner," she says.

About DIPEx/Healthtalkonline/Youthhealthtalk

DIPEx has created two websites - and - of people's experiences of more than 50
different illnesses and health conditions. The websites are aimed at
patients, their carers, family and friends, doctors, nurses and other health
professionals, and are based on in-depth qualitative research carried out by
the Health Experiences Research Group at the University of Oxford.

Users of the websites will find accounts - presented through video, audio
and written material - of issues such as reaction to diagnosis, consultation
with their doctor, effect on work, social life and relationships, decisions
on treatment options and side-effects.

To date, has covered illnesses including
cancer, heart disease, neurological conditions (Parkinson's, epilepsy and
autism) chronic health issues (HIV, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis) and
mental health. We also provide experiences of women's health, dying and
bereavement, and publish young people's experiences (including epilepsy,
sexual health, teenage cancer) on our dedicated youth website

Supporters include Jon Snow, Dawn French, John Humphrys, Ian McEwan, Dr
Jonathan Miller, Jenni Murray, Michael Palin, Philip Pullman, Libby Purves,
Thom Yorke and many others. The actor, Hugh Grant has just agreed to be its

DIPEx, a registered charity no. 1087019, is funded by the Department of
Health and charitable trusts. Full details are on our websites.

For Press information or interviews/ case studies please contact: Alan
, MurrayPR, +44(0)207-544-0016, +44(0)7887-877077

For Press information or interviews/ case studies please contact: Alan Murray, MurrayPR, +44(0)207-544-0016, +44(0)7887-877077 alan at

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