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Millions of women suffer from period problems but have their symptoms dismissed

Despite effective treatment options being available, medical experts say severe pain and heavy bleeding are often normalised



Millions of women and girls in the UK suffer from period problems, such as severe pain and heavy bleeding, with more than half reporting their symptoms not taken seriously, research has shown. 

A new survey, commissioned by the UK health charity Wellbeing of Women, has found almost a third of women and girls with period symptoms do not seek medical help for severe pain, heavy bleeding and other period symptoms.

Despite effective treatment options being available, medical experts say severe pain and heavy bleeding are normalised within the healthcare system, with many women and girls not receiving the treatment and support they need.

Severe pain, heavy bleeding and irregular cycles are common symptoms in women and girls with gynaecological conditions, such as endometriosis, adenomyosis, fibroids and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) which require treatment and support.

However, figures show women wait years before receiving a diagnosis for these conditions. The Women’s Health Strategy for England has shown that women and girls are frequently ignored or told that heavy and painful periods are “normal”.

The survey of 3,000 women and girls, conducted by Wellbeing of Women, has found that almost all aged between 16-40 have experienced period pain, with 59 per cent saying their period pain was severe.

More than one in 10 have experienced some heavy periods, with almost half saying their heavy bleeding was severe.

Despite treatment such as tranexamic acid being shown to reduce period blood loss by as much as 54 per cent, the report has suggested that only 14 per cent of women have tried medication.

The findings have shown 56 per cent have found it difficult to access treatment and support and 51 per cent felt their healthcare professional had failed to take their period concerns seriously.

Nearly nine in 10 (86 per cent) have experienced mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety and mood changes, in relation to their period, the charity has also revealed.

“Women and girls have been dismissed for far too long,” said Dame Lesley Regan, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Imperial College London and chair of Wellbeing of Women.

“It’s simply unacceptable that anyone is expected to suffer with period symptoms that disrupt their lives, including taking time off school, work, or their caring responsibilities, all of which may result in avoidable mental health problems.

“Periods should not affect women’s lives in this way. If they do, it can be a sign of a gynaecological condition that requires attention and ongoing support – not dismissal.

‘No woman should be held back by her period’

To tackle the normalisation of period symptoms, Wellbeing of Women has launched its Just a Period campaign, an initiative which, Regan says, will be addressing the many years of medical bias, neglect and stigma in women’s health.

In a roundtable event to launch the campaign, football coach Emma Hayes diagnosed with endometriosis, influencer Alice Liveing who has PCOS, weather forecaster Clare Nasir who had surgery for fibroids, shared their experiences and struggles living with gynaecological conditions.

“I’ve had excruciatingly painful periods for as long as I can remember,” influencer and personal trainer Alice Liveing explained ahead of the launch of the campaign.

“I have passed out, been sick and taken days off work. Other women I speak to experience similar. I had to see many doctors before getting the treatment I’ve needed.

“Women should not be dealing with their pain or putting up with symptoms that disrupt their lives.”

Dr Nighat Arif, BBC Breakfast and ITV This Morning GP resident and ambassador of Wellbeing of Women, said: “As a doctor, I see women and girls in my clinic with bad periods and who have been dealing with severe pain, flooding through their clothes, and mental health problems for years.

“No woman or girl should be told it’s ‘just a period’. That’s why I am backing this campaign from Wellbeing of Women.

“Anyone with pelvic pain, heavy vaginal bleeding and/or an irregular menstrual cycle, should see their doctor. There are good, effective treatments and no woman or girl should be held back by her period.”

Dr Philippa Kaye, ITV This Morning GP resident and campaign ambassador for Wellbeing of Women, said: “Periods are a natural part of life for millions of women and girls, but living with symptoms that prevent them living their lives is not normal.

“If women and girls experience severe pain, heavy bleeding, or any other symptoms that have a negative impact, they should visit their doctor.

“Sadly, many of these debilitating symptoms are normalised or dismissed, meaning women and girls are unable to access the treatment and support they so desperately need.”

She added: “I will be working closely with Wellbeing of Women to raise awareness and create educational content, to help ensure no-one is held back by their period.”

Caroline Nokes, Conservative MP and chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, added: “There is a terrible phrase, ‘well, it’s just a period’, why are you making a fuss about that? Can’t you just get on with it? Yet many women and girls are experiencing horrendous period symptoms and gynaecological conditions.

“These are impacting the health of women and girls, and preventing them from taking part in work, school, sport and everyday life. Endometriosis alone affects one and a half million women in the UK and costs the economy £8.2bn. Now is the time for change.”


Start-up raises US4.2m to address disparities in women’s mental health

LunaJoy Health seeks to address the complex needs of high-risk women



LunaJoy Health co-founders Sipra Laddha, MD and Shama Rathi, MD

The US telehealth start-up LunaJoy Health has raised US$4.2m in funding to address disparities in women’s mental health.

LunaJoy aims to eliminate inequalities in mental health and “redesign” the way women access care.

The platform, which offers mental health therapy, counselling and medication management, is developing care models that cater to underserved populations, providing care that seeks to address the complex needs of high-risk women.

The funding round, supported by Y Combinator, FoundersX Fund, Goodwater Capital, Magic Fund, VentureSouq, Nurture Ventures and NorthSouth Ventures, is hoped to help the company expand its capabilities and close disparities in maternal health care.

“The support from our investors, coupled with the current focus on maternal health improvements through TMaH funding, sets the stage for the change we need to see so badly across the industry,” said Sipra Laddha, co-founder and CEO of LunaJoy Health.

Mental health is a lifetime pursuit, and we want to design a way to engage and support women with a variety of needs and varying degrees of risk.

“By using technology, we can measure and treat symptoms more effectively, delivering a better service model to meet rising demand and a shortage of therapists in the US.”

This financial and strategic support, Laddha said, will help LunaJoy roll out its “novel” integrated care programme, LunaCare, across select communities in need of maternal mental health.

The investment will also facilitate the integration of advanced technology solutions to enhance care coordination and patient monitoring.

Surbhi Sarna, partner at Y Combinator, said: “LunaJoy Health’s mission to bring a new standard to maternal health care for Medicaid mothers aligns perfectly with our goal of supporting scalable solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

“We are proud to back such a vital initiative that promises significant impact.”

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New survey to ‘amplify’ marginalised voices in healthcare decision-making

UK charities enter partnership to address gender gap and advocate for inclusive healthcare policies



The gynaecological health charity Cysters and Endometriosis UK have announced a partnership to amplify women’s voice in healthcare decision-making.

Despite progress in healthcare data collection, there remains a gap in representing the experiences of marginalised groups, particularly for those impacted by conditions and diseases like endometriosis.

Decision-makers in Parliament and the NHS often rely on data and statistics to inform policy and resource allocation. However, these datasets may not accurately reflect the experiences of marginalised communities.

A recent report from Endometriosis UK that gathered data on the experiences of being diagnosed with endometriosis in the UK found that whilst the ethnicity of respondents who identified as ‘white’ was proportionate to the data collected in the Census 2021, the remaining data was not illustrative of the ethnic diversity of the UK, with 15 per cent of respondents choosing not to respond to the ethnicity question.

To address this gap and advocate for inclusive healthcare policies, Cysters and Endometriosis UK are launching a new survey initiative aimed at amplifying the voices of marginalised groups in healthcare decision-making.

“We know that the current statistics are not inclusive of all communities, particularly marginalised groups,” said Neelam Heera-Shergill, founder of Cysters.

“By encouraging those from marginalised communities to share their experiences through this survey, they will be helping us to advocate for the changes that are needed, backed by evidence from their communities.

“In addition to delving into the diagnosis journey for people of colour and the unique barriers they encounter. We aim for this research and findings to pave the way for additional funded research on all menstrual-related conditions affecting people of colour.”

The survey seeks to gather insights into the experiences of marginalised communities, particularly concerning conditions and diseases like endometriosis.

Participants are encouraged to share their experiences openly and honestly, knowing that their responses will contribute to shaping more inclusive healthcare policies.

Sarah Harris, a researcher at Cysters, said: “We urge everyone to participate in this survey and share it far and wide. Together, we can ensure that all voices are considered in the conversation surrounding healthcare policy and resource allocation.”

The survey is anonymous and takes approximately 15 minutes to complete. To participate, visit Delayed Diagnosis of Endometriosis Among People of Colour in the UK Survey.

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Menstrual care start-up launches period equity initiative across college campuses

The initiative is hoped to facilitate access to period care and educate students on the use of more sustainable products



Cherie Hoeger, founder and CEO of Saalt

The US menstrual care start-up Saalt has launched a new initiative aimed at addressing period poverty and environmental sustainability.

The Period Equity Initiative aims to reduce 100 million tampons from the environment while combatting period poverty.

Institutions, including Harvard University, Vanderbilt University, Northwestern University, the University of Utah and the University of Nebraska, are already participating in the programme.

One in five female college students in the US have had to decide between buying period products and paying for other basic essentials like food and other bills according to a nationwide survey.

The initiative, a direct response to the demand for more units for student populations, underscores the issue of period poverty, which affects students across America, challenging the misconception that it is solely an “overseas problem”.

Saalt aims to make period care accessible and affordable through the subsidisation of reusable period products, such as cups, discs, and period underwear, to participating universities and their campus affiliates.

The project is hoped to not only facilitate access to period care, but also educate students on the use of more sustainable products, which are designed to be reused rather than discarded.

“Every day we hear from customers about how life-changing Saalt cups are for them,” said Cherie Hoeger, founder and CEO of Saalt.

“Creating period equity and managing the environmental impact created by disposables are pressing matters that demand urgent attention and innovative solutions.

“Through our Period Equity Initiative, we’re taking a proactive approach to tackle these challenges by leveraging our expertise and aligning with universities across America to make a big impact closer to home.”

The Period Equity Initiative, Hoeger added, furthers Saalt’s commitment to making period care more affordable, accessible and sustainable.

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