A doctor at one of Ireland’s leading women’s health clinics claims menopausal women in the north-east are being told to ‘grin and bear it’ by some GPs.
Dr Talisa Chennells treats women every day for symptoms linked to the so-called change of life at the Menopause Hub, in Santry, north Dublin.
“If you are woman living in Monaghan, Cavan, Meath, or Louth, and you are concerned that your doctor is not really listening to you, then please get in touch,” she said.
Her clients, she said, seek help for a vast range of symptoms including fatigue, lack of sleep, anxiety and depression, and brain fog.
However, many of them had previously been told by a GP not to worry about the menopause because it would “pass in a few years”.
Some had even been offered anti-depressants.
“That is such an old fashioned attitude,” said Dr Chennells, who worked as a GP after graduating in medicine.
“Women struggling with menopausal symptoms do not need to suffer in silence anymore.
“There are a number of treatment options available to them, including hormone replacement therapy (HRT), non-hormonal medicines, herbal treatments, and psychological counselling.”
But Dr Chennells, who is a member of the British Menopause Society, said some of her former colleagues in general practice remain suspicious of HRT – even though recent research shows it can be safely prescribed to suitable patients.
“A lot of the women I see say their family doctor was reluctant to give them HRT,” said Dr Chennells, who is originally from Johannesburg, South Africa.
“They’re told their symptoms won’t last, that HRT can cause problems, and that they should just ‘grin and bear it’ until the menopause passes.
“A number of clients said they had even been offered anti-depressants.”
“There are so many misconceptions about HRT and that’s why many doctors don’t prescribe it,” Dr Chennells added.
“But HRT can be a game changer, and even though there is a percentage of women for whom it is not suitable, breast cancer patients, for example, recent studies show the benefits outweigh the risks for most others.”
Dr Chennells (35) said she moved from her native South Africa to Dublin with her husband and three children to join the multi-disciplinary team at the Menopause Hub – Ireland’s first-ever clinic solely devoted to helping menopausal women overcome symptoms – because she is passionate about women’s health.
But she fears some women in the north-east of the country are not getting the help they require when they reach their mid-40s, when the perimenopause begins.
“We are here to help, and we understand that every woman’s menopausal journey is as individual as they are,” Dr Chennells added.
“Our clinic is situated just off the M50, at the Ikea exit, and is easily accessible via the M1, M2, and M3 motorways.”