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Davina McCall’s menopause documentary will increase demand for support, says expert



Davina McCall’s Channel 4 documentary is expected to create an increased demand for employee menopause support, as 88 per cent say the symptoms affect work

Despite the general menopause discussion growing louder, recent research from Peppy, a digital health platform that offers employees access to remote support, has found that 78 per cent of employees with menopause symptoms admit they have not spoken about menopause at work.

However, the company believes that employers should anticipate an increase in demand for workplace menopause support following Davina McCall’s new documentary for Channel 4, The Menopause Brain Drain.

The programme highlights how declining hormone levels during the menopause years can be associated with sudden forgetfulness and a lack of concentration, most-commonly referred to as ‘brain fog’.


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Of the 548 respondents to Peppy’s survey of employees experiencing menopausal symptoms, the findings showed that 80 per cent had sleep problems, 78 per cent had brain fog, 73 per cent had anxiety, and 67 per cent had difficulty focusing.

In the same time, 88 per cent of employees said that perimenopause or menopause affected their ability to work.

“Brain fog – and the forgetfulness, self-doubt and imposter syndrome that may come with it – is an issue that workplaces need to take seriously,” says Kathy Abernethy, menopause specialist and director of menopause services at Peppy. “What’s more, brain fog and other symptoms of menopause are not just limited to a short period of people’s lives. They can begin months or even years before periods stop and persist for an average of four years or more.”

“Davina’s recent documentary will undoubtedly give some employees additional confidence about speaking to their employer about how brain fog is impacting their working life,” the expert adds. “Employees need to be prepared, as for some, this will be an enormous step with associated concerns about how they will be perceived going forwards.”

Peppy explains that some employees may forget what they are saying mid-sentence and for others, a seemingly simple task can turn into one that takes much longer than expected. This can create immense stress and anxiety in anticipation of meetings, deadlines and everyday work. Employees may also doubt their ability, value and performance, or consider taking sick days, changing job or leaving the workplace altogether.

Of the employees who had spoken to their employer about their symptoms, 38 per cent asked for flexible working or remote working and 36 per cent asked for support with emotional wellbeing.

“Company-wide training and education is a really important first step in supporting employees with the symptoms of menopause,” Abernethy explains.

“If an employee wants to speak up or ask for help and their line manager’s only knowledge of menopause is hot flushes, it’s not going to be a productive conversation. Employers and managers need to be empowered with the knowledge to confidently have these discussions and crucially, to also understand the pathway of support available.”

Other means to support staff include appointing menopause champions for raising awareness and breaking down stigma, offering confidential, clinically led menopause and wellbeing support and recommending trusted resources for advice.

“Supporting menopausal employees must start with awareness, helping them and those around them understand why they are suffering from brain fog,” Abernethy continues. “The second step is support with how to manage the symptoms, and that requires practical guidance and expert support. Taking these steps will help employers reap the rewards of a happier, healthier and more diverse workforce.”

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Hertility acquires Netherlands-based hormone testing company Grip



Hertility’s founders, Dr Helen O’Neill, Deirdre O’Neill and Dr Natalie Getreu and Grip's founders, Anne Marie Droste and Ling Lin

Women’s health company Hertility is announcing the acquisition of Netherlands-based fertility and hormone testing firm Grip, increasing their market share in the women’s health space

Until now, comprehensive data on women’s health hasn’t existed, but Hertility is hoping that by acquiring Grip, they will expand the dataset and reach their goal of drastically cutting down the time to diagnosis of female health conditions.

Hertility is planning on launching in Ireland this summer and the Netherlands before the end of the year and is already offering end to end gynae and fertility care with a team of over 30 experts.

With 92 per cent of women saying they have insufficient information about their gynaecological health and one in seven couples experiencing infertility, the two femtech companies have come together to enable women to take control of their reproductive health through access to personalised, at-home hormone and fertility testing, innovative diagnostics, telemedicine and scanning at a fraction of the price of private treatment.

Founded by scientists and powered by an all-female research team, Hertility is aiming to shape the future of reproductive healthcare by unique diagnostic testing that provides data-driven and advanced insights into reproductive health, fertility decline and the onset of menopause.

“This acquisition is a coming together of women who are on a mission to drive real change in women’s health,” says Dr Helen O’Neill, founder of Hertility.

“We are over the moon to have taken Grip under our wing, and will be taking Hertility into new markets, starting with the Netherlands. Anne Marie and Ling [the Grip co-founders] share the same passion as we have, and we’re proud to take the lead and redefine women’s reproductive health.”

The acquisition will mean that the Grip offering is replaced with Hertility. The latter will use the anonymised and consented data that Grip has collected to accelerate its clinical trials and shape a future in which women can receive personalised testing, diagnosis and treatment from home.

By expanding their dataset, Hertility reproductive health experts hope they can gain better insight into female health conditions and further innovate diagnostics to ultimately reduce the time to diagnosis for women worldwide.

Grip was active in the Netherlands and the UK, and going forward, will be led by Hertility’s founders Dr Helen O’Neill, Deirdre O’Neill and Dr Natalie Getreu.

“We are passionate to the core about helping women to understand their bodies better,” explains Anne Marie Droste, Grip co-founder. “It’s why Ling and I launched in 2020, and it’s why we’re proud to be joining forces with Hertility today.

“Their clinical trials that are bridging the gaps in female health are outstanding, and their deep scientific understanding and developments of this market are second to none. We are excited about the future for women’s health with Hertilty leading the charge, and we are hugely proud as women to support other women in furthering this mission.”

Hertility raised €4.6 million in April 2021 and has acquired Grip for an undisclosed sum.

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Prenatal care range to help expecting parents bond with unborn children



Morrama launches a ‘Prenatal Care’ concept range to help parents manage pain and bond with their babies

The design company that worked on the Elvie Catch breast milk collector has launched a ‘Prenatal Care’ concept range designed to help expecting parents manage pain, monitor their baby’s health, and build positive relationships with their unborn children during pregnancy.

Developed with insights from maternity ward doctors, as well as new and expecting mothers, the three product concepts were created in response to reports that stillbirths have increased by 28 per cent since the coronavirus pandemic started.

“Research shows that the past year has led to a shocking rise in stillbirths and deliberate harm to newborns,” Morrama founder and CEO, Jo Barnard, says. “There is evidence to link both to an increase in mothers struggling with anxiety, stress and pre and postpartum depression, no doubt due to the additional pressure of having a baby in a pandemic. Our ‘Prenatal Care’ concept range aims to support the wellbeing of both parent and child.”

The three concepts include a wearable which allows parents to track anomalies in the baby’s movements in the womb, a hand-held device which guides mothers through hypnobirthing techniques – a common practice encouraged by medical professionals to manage the pain and stress of childbirth – and a scanner which amplifies the sounds of the baby, so that parents can better listen to it in the womb.

Morrama hopes the range will demonstrate how technology could support GPs and medical services in providing ongoing, high-quality and thoughtful care to prenatal women.

“Covid-19 caused heightened stress, isolation and hesitation in seeking medical attention that has had terrible consequences for new mothers,” Barnard adds. “Pandemics are only going to become more prevalent. This concept range highlights the need for accessible technology that expecting parents can use in the comfort of their homes to ensure peace of mind during what is understandably an anxious time.”

The agency envisions the products being made available for rent via the NHS and private healthcare providers for the period of the pregnancy.

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HRT crisis: What the shortages mean for thousands of women in the UK



HRT shortages have caused a rising panic among the one million women in the UK who use the treatment to manage perimenopause symptoms 

Demand for HRT – hormone replacement therapy – has gone up by 30 per cent over the past five years due to the increased awareness through mainstream media, better education and GP confidence in prescribing treatments.

However, the recent shortages are extremely worrying for many women dealing with perimenopause and menopause symptoms.

Dr Nicky Keay, member of the British Menopause Society and chief medical officer at the hormone testing company Forth, says that as concerning as it is, shortage of hormone replacement therapy is not a new problem.

“Supply issues have not been resolved since the last shortage a few years ago. HRT is a prescribed medication that in common with many medications required to maintain long term health and therefore, needs to be taken continuously.”

Due to shortages, women are advised to switch to different alternatives. However, Keay warns that there is a downside to this.

“Consistency is important with HRT and every woman has her own unique hormone orchestra,” she explains. “They often spend time working with their prescriber to personalise the type and dose of HRT.

“It is recommended that women are given a three-month supply max to combat supply issues, which is already a common process. So, I would highly recommend women taking HRT to get a prepaid NHS prescription.”

Menopause campaigners have also warned of a further surge in demand for already stretched HRT supplies as a result of Davina McCall’s Channel 4 documentary on menopause.

Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) ministers hope that the lessons learnt from supplying millions of coronavirus vaccines rapidly throughout the UK will be soon applied to HRT product shortages.

Despite the rising awareness of perimenopause and menopause leading to more women being prescribed HRT, Keay says that there is still a black hole when it comes to hormone testing and understanding the importance of HRT.

Along with Forth’s female founder, Sarah Bolt, Dr Keay started developing a female hormone test called MyFORM that combines blood analysis with mathematically modelling and clinical expertise to map a woman’s hormones across her entire cycle.

“A product like this will allow women to visually see how their hormones are fluctuating and allow them to understand why they might be experiencing certain knock-on effects on the journey to perimenopause and menopause,” Dr Nicky Keay points out.

During perimenopause, oestrogen and progesterone levels decline as the ovaries become less responsive to the control hormones which rise to trigger a response from the ovaries. Helping women gain a deeper understanding of their hormones will help them make more informed decisions around treatment and HRT.

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