Menstrual Cycle Support (MCS) on social prescription is set to revolutionise menstrual health care in the UK, naming and addressing what I call the burden of 'menstrual loneliness'.
What is social prescribing?
Social Prescribing is defined as the means of enabling GPs and other primary care and allied health professionals to refer patients to a number of non-clinical services. (Kings Fund)
You may have heard of GPs referring patients who suffer from loneliness, for example, to a local walking or gardening group - this is known as 'social prescribing'.
Early research indicates that social prescribing can reduce GP appointments by up to a fifth and its benefit is so considerable to unburdening the health service and improving individual wellbeing that the government has made it a key part of its NHS long term strategy for ‘universal personalised care’ so that, as of 2021, social prescribing is available in all GP surgeries across the country.
And social prescribing is very much a social movement. It began in the UK, as a grassroots initiative - with a handful of pioneering GPs - it soon pricked the interest of the Department of Health and a worldwide network of initiatives so that social prescribing has rapidly become an international movement, supported by the World Health Organisation among others.
Where social prescribing is exciting is that ALL primary care and allied care professionals can refer patients to the recognised non-clinical services in the communities - this means that not only GPs but also nurses, patient co-ordinators, mental health workers, social workers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, osteopaths, counsellors, psychologists and school nurses, can refer patients. [I also enable patients to self-refer and 50% access the programme this way].
Surgery receptionists are being trained to become patient co-ordinators, ensuring patients are offered all support available in the community.
A calling for change in mainstream menstrual health
I have long since felt a calling towards creating or campaigning towards a significant change in the medical system regarding menstrual health.
I, myself, over many years, had been to multiple GP appointments about my menstrual cycle without every really understanding what was going on and... leaving without understanding what was going on. I, myself, had experienced side-effects from menstrual medication whilst never understanding if they were side-effects or if I was 'going mad'. I, myself, had returned and been given a new menstrual medication and on a repeat cycle of confusion and side-effects. I, myself, had suffered with my menstrual cycle and felt overly reliant on the medical system even though every test and scan came back as 'normal'. I, myself, was suffering with what I now call the burden of 'menstrual loneliness' since menarche (my first period).
Answering my calling and the prayers of my younger self, I created Menstrual Cycle Support (MCS) on social prescription to offer menstruators the service I wish I had received when I first considered visiting the GP for menstrual issues: the opportunity to better understand my menstrual cycle and how to live without fighting against it, how it could empower me alongside medical investigations and suggested medical treatment routes, as well as improve my relationships with my friends and family, give me the opportunity to lean into my creativity and optimise my productivity, as well as give me access to peer support to combat my menstrual loneliness and end my lifetime of menstrual suffering.
The hope is that Menstrual Cycle Support (MCS) on social prescription will speed up unacceptable diagnosis times (8 years on average for endometriosis, 12 years on average for PMDD), reduce waiting lists and wasted GP appointments, save the NHS millions and most importantly break the continual cycles of misery experienced by so many menstruators in the UK.
No one should suffer with their menstrual cycle and I'm determined to make Menstrual Cycle Support (MCS) on social prescription available in every GP surgery in the UK. I believe this can revolutionise mainstream menstrual health and, indeed, our society, so it is no longer compromised with menstrual suffering, every month.
If you're thinking of offering a menstrual health service on social prescription, please get in touch. It makes sense for us to work together! I am partnered with the brilliant Meaningful Measures and am collecting crucial data to show the efficacy of MCS on social prescription: data will help invest further funds into menstrual health and benefit society as a whole but this means that the programmes all need to be providing the same support in the same format.
If you are suffering with your menstrual cycle, you can book a free consultation here: www.kateshepherdcohen.com/menstrual-cycle-support