First UK-wide menstrual health support launched in Parliament
The first menstrual support to be available through all GP surgeries in the UK on social prescription is announced in Parliament on Monday.
The Menstrual Cycle Support Course, a peer-reviewed and clinically backed online course, is a free multimedia programme that aims to reduce menstrual suffering, long diagnosis times, and improve GP appointments.
The announcement of the menstrual literacy course follows the Government's public survey for their Women's Health Strategy, in which only 17% of respondents felt that they had enough information on menstrual wellbeing. Another survey found that 85% of women and others who menstruate experience painful period cramps.
The Government's newly appointed Women’s Health Ambassador, Professor Dame Lesley Regan, said: “This new course builds on the ambitions set out in our Women’s Health Strategy to ensure women have access to accurate information about their health and are empowered to seek help if they need to – whether that’s from healthcare professionals, their employer or their family and friends. Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:
‘We know that many women suffer with physical and mental symptoms during their menstrual cycle, such as pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The stigma surrounding periods also often acts as a barrier to them accessing support. The Menstrual Cycle Support course is a vital step to increase the availability of reliable, accurate information about periods to women and girls.’
The course marks the first time globally that menstrual health support is available on social prescription. It supports participants to create a ‘3 Month Cycle Chart’ to improve GP appointments and increase menstrual literacy, as well as join a community for peer support. The course is available for all patients through their doctor or other healthcare professional, or self-referral on menstrualcyclesupport.com from Monday 10 October. At the event to announce the initiative at the House of Lords, co-hosted by The Baroness Newlove, Deputy Speaker in the House of Lords, and Menstrual Cycle Support, the following will also be announced:
An intention to establish the first All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Menstrual Health
A new digital tool ‘What Day Am I’ for women and others who menstruate to quickly and anonymously learn the day, phase and season of their cycle, as taught in the course
New insights into the societal benefits of improved menstrual literacy, from a panel with Emma Cox, CEO of Endometriosis UK, Dr Radha Modgil, NHS GP, broadcaster & campaigner for wellbeing, and Amy McKeown, award-winning mental health, wellbeing and women’s health consultant
The course, based upon the practice of Menstrual Cycle Awareness, was developed by Cornwall-based Menstrual Cycle Support, and follows a pilot in GP surgeries across Cornwall.
Kate Shepherd Cohen, Founder, Menstrual Cycle Support, and winner of the Award for Innovator of the Year at the International Social Prescribing Awards 2021, says
‘Too many people have suffered with their menstrual cycles for too long. Today, I am Day 21. This simple understanding about where we are in our cycle, the unique energy and insights that each day can bring, has helped relieve my own and so many people’s menstrual suffering. This understanding lies at the heart of the Menstrual Cycle Support Course.’ The Baroness Newlove, Deputy Speaker in the House of Lords, says ‘This is vital for women’s health in the UK. For an issue that affects so many people, and so many relationships, it has received too little attention. This course will help turn the tide of suffering by giving women and others who menstruate an opportunity to understand, chart and change their experience for the better.’
All enquiries (including interviews, attendance to the Lords):
Simon Cohen, firstname.lastname@example.org, 07515387314
Notes to editors
The course and What Day Am I tool can be seen at menstrualcyclesupport.com/
Kate Shepherd Cohen suffered for years with her period, and was motivated to share her research and create the course to help prevent others suffering in the same way. She was recently featured on TED.com for her talk 'Period Problems - Why There's Hope.' More on Kate on her website.
Social prescribing enables GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services to support their health and wellbeing. See NHS England for more information.
Endometriosis UK: the average diagnosis waiting time for endometriosis is 8 years
The course has been peer reviewed by clinicians from primary and secondary care, leading menstrual health charities, and by patients themselves; the course has also earned the Period Positive Trained and Trusted Resource Award.
Menstrual Cycle Awareness is a method of charting, understanding and reframing the menstrual cycle to manage pain and reduce suffering, created by menstrual wellbeing pioneers Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer, co-founders of the Red School.
Government's public survey for their Women’s Health Strategy: 8% of respondents felt that they had access to enough information on gynaecological conditions, such as endometriosis and fibroids, and 17% of respondents felt that they had enough information on menstrual wellbeing. Source: Menstrual Health on Gov.uk.
85% of women experience painful cramping according to a survey among 42,879 women.
The course has been supported by: European Regional Development Funding via the EPIC project, by grant only, not endorsement; Grace & Green, the UK’s leading environmentally-friendly, certified organic, plastic-free period care brand.
Full quotes of support
Women’s Health Ambassador, Professor Dame Lesley Regan, said:
“This new course builds on the ambitions set out in our Women’s Health Strategy to ensure women have access to accurate information about their health and are empowered to seek help if they need to – whether that’s from healthcare professionals, their employer or their family and friends.
“I will continue to ensure that menstrual health is prioritised for all women. Menstrual periods are an excellent example of how so many women’s health needs are entirely predictable and must be addressed.”
Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “We welcome the launch of this peer-reviewed online platform to improve menstrual health support for women and girls. No menstrual cycle will be the same, and through interventions such as this women can increase their understanding and track their own cycle. It can also support those who are suffering from period related problems. “We know that many women suffer with physical and mental symptoms during their menstrual cycle, such as pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The stigma surrounding periods also often acts as a barrier to them accessing support. The Menstrual Cycle Support course is a vital step to increase the availability of reliable, accurate information about periods to women and girls.”