WHISE Receive Grant To Expand Crucial Work To Address Impacts Of Menopause
Women’s Health in the South East (WHISE) is delighted to announce that we are one of 13 recipients awarded the Women’s Health and Wellbeing Support Groups and Programs Grant to establish local health and wellbeing support groups that are specifically designed by women, for women.
The funding will enable WHISE to bring women together in the Southern Metropolitan Region to reduce stigma, facilitate social connection and deliver health literacy programs that address menopause, perimenopause, and mental wellbeing.
“We thank the Victorian Government for recognising the investment required for women’s health and wellbeing. This much-needed funding for our menopause work not only demonstrates a commitment to the health and wellbeing of Victorian women but also recognises the enduring value of sustained investment in gender equal health and primary prevention,” says Kit McMahon, WHISE CEO.
This timely funding is especially significant as it coincides with the recent opening of submissions for a Senate Inquiry into menopause and perimenopause, a crucial initiative in which WHISE eagerly anticipates contributing valuable insights.
Since 2022, WHISE has led the establishment of a working group to lead interventions to address perimenopause and menopause in the region with representatives from local government, community health, and health promotion agencies.
“Menopause is poorly understood by clinicians and community alike, with many women suffering through symptoms instead of being offered effective care,” says McMahon.
Although perimenopause and menopause are inevitable natural health events, they have significant impacts on women’s physical health and wellbeing, through the onset of symptoms and the increased risk of poorer health outcomes that occurs as a result of the reduction in female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone. At least sixty per cent of women will experience mild symptoms for four to eight years on average, with up to twenty per cent of women experiencing severe symptoms continuing into their sixties and beyond.
Working closely with clinicians from Monash Health and Peninsula Health, WHISE has already delivered 19 community information sessions to over 340 participants to address this gap in knowledge, by increasing understanding of perimenopause and menopause, diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment options. By simplifying complex content and making it accessible, WHISE has acted as an important link between healthcare professionals and the broader community.
The grant will help WHISE to establish support groups for women with lived experience of perimenopause and menopause and continue to deliver community-based information sessions in 2024.
WHISE has also delivered two webinars on menopause, including one with a specific mental health focus, and created a resource for organisations seeking to introduce policies to support employees experiencing perimenopause and menopause.
“For many women, the support they’ll get from these groups will be life-changing – healthcare should be equitable and by empowering women to understand their own bodies and experiences, we can make a real difference,” says the Hon. Mary-Anne Thomas, Minister for Health.
“We thank the Victorian Government for their commitment to women’s health and wellbeing and will continue to work with our partners to ensure women and girls in our region are safe, healthy and thriving,” says McMahon.
- The majority of women (approximately sixty per cent) experience mild to moderate symptoms that can include irregular menstrual bleeding, vasomotor symptoms including hot flushes, feeling hot or night sweats, insomnia, fatigue and lethargy, joint aches and muscle pains, breast tenderness, headaches, genitourinary syndrome of menopause including vaginal dryness and atrophy, pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse, incontinence or other urinary syndromes such as increased urgency or frequency in needing to urinate, metabolic changes including centralised weight gain, and new facial hair and changes to skin elasticity and dryness.
- A further twenty per cent of women typically experience severe symptoms that can continue beyond menopause into their sixties and seventies.
- Eighty-three per cent of women experiencing menopause were affected at work, resulting in many women reducing their hours, forgoing promotions or opportunities to expand their role, or retiring prematurely. This has a significant impact on women’s superannuation and retirement planning. Australian women currently retire with forty-seven per cent less superannuation than their male counterparts.
- Only thirteen per cent of menopausal women in Australia are using Menopausal Hormone Therapy (MHT), despite its safety and efficacy in treating menopausal symptoms. Further work is needed to inform both community and clinicians about the availability and suitability of MHT to support women experiencing menopause.
WHISE has a set of online resources that are available to share and use including
- 10 Questions that may be on your mind about menopause – a one stop shop on further information and resources on the most common questions about menopause
- Menopause in the workplace: A Case study on how workplaces can support workers affected by perimenopause and menopause