Women should be offered talking therapy on NHS to ease menopause symptoms, Nice suggests

Women are to be offered talking therapy to ease menopause symptoms, ITV News Reporter and Presenter Charlie Frost has the latest

The NHS should offer women talking therapy to ease menopause symptoms, according to new guidance.

Evidence from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) shows that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which typically involves talking through mental and emotional issues, could help women to combat symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats and disrupted sleep.

The guidance recommends women are offered face-to-face sessions, group meetings or online therapy, as well as self-help information.

The move is expected to provide a wider choice of treatment for menopause symptoms, as well as giving more information about which treatments will suit which women.

It is estimated that there are currently around 13 million perimenopausal or menopausal women in the UK, which is equivalent to around one third of the entire female population, according to University College London.

The Nice guidance also suggests women should have a better understanding of the risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which is currently the main treatment for menopause symptoms. Around 15% of women aged between 45 and 64 in England had an HRT prescription in April, according to data from the Department of Health and Social Care.

Professor Jonathan Benger, chief medical officer at Nice, said the impact of menopause symptoms on quality of life "can vary hugely".

“It is important that healthcare practitioners take a personalised approach when discussing treatments, using evidence-based information tailored to individuals’ circumstances.”

But GP and menopause specialist Dr Louise Newson described the Nice update as "disappointing."

“CBT may have a place when taking a holistic approach to managing the perimenopause, but it won’t improve every menopause symptom and won’t treat the underlying hormone deficiency,” Newson said.

“There is good quality, established evidence about the protective effects of HRT in relation to osteoporosis, heart disease, clinical depression and colon cancer, and there is emerging evidence around dementia risk also being reduced," she said.

"These are ignored in this document, and the perceived risks of breast cancer stated in these draft recommendations are not based on good quality evidence,” Newson added.

The Nice guidance added details on the slightly heightened risk of developing breast, ovarian and womb cancer as a result of taking HRT, as well as the potential for blood clots, strokes, and dementia.

The public body's recommendations come after the government put together the Women’s Health Strategy, a 10-year plan published last year which seeks to better understand women-specific issues and conditions.

Maria Caulfield, minister for the Women’s Health Strategy, described menopause as a “key pillar” of the blueprint.

“Nice’s updated guidance shows why research is so important in women’s health – so we can make sure women are offered the support that is right for them,” she added.

The draft guidance published on Friday is open to public consultation until January 5 2024.

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