Women in England are being encouraged to actively participate in shaping reproductive health policy by sharing their personal experiences related to various issues.
The government’s initiative to conduct this survey follows a commitment made by ministers over a year ago to seek women’s input on matters including periods, contraception, fertility, pregnancy, and menopause, as integral components of the women’s health strategy.
The survey is accessible to all women in England and will be open for a duration of six weeks, a press release from the Department of Health and Social Care said.
The upcoming release of the survey findings, scheduled for launch today (7), will serve as a valuable resource for gaining deeper insights into women’s reproductive health experiences over the years.
These insights will play a pivotal role in shaping government health policy, the Department of Health and Social Care said.
“Women and girls deserve the best healthcare at every stage of their lives, but we simply can’t deliver that without listening to their lived experiences and concerns,” said minister for women’s health strategy, Maria Caulfield.
“Women should always have a say in their own healthcare, whether that’s in managing pregnancy and fertility or dealing with the challenges of the menopause in the workplace.
“I would encourage every woman to complete the survey on reproductive health as soon as they’re able and ensure their voice is heard.”
The survey, run by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is available to all women in England aged 16 to 55 and will be active for a duration of six weeks starting from Thursday (7).
“We need to make healthcare work for women and girls – and for it to fit around their lives,” said women’s health ambassador, professor Dame Lesley Regan.
“There’s no point bolstering services if they can’t be accessed, or the support available doesn’t work for them and meet their needs.
“That’s why we’re asking women and girls to share their experience, whether it’s about periods, menopause or endometriosis. We need your voice to shape a new system of healthcare that gives women what they need.”
Dr Rebecca French, an associate professor of sexual and reproductive health research at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said, “For most women, it can be nearly 40 years from their first period to menopause. Throughout this time, women should be able to make informed decisions about their own reproductive health and wellbeing, such as if and when to get pregnant and where to access appropriate support and treatment.
“Women have previously described difficulties accessing reproductive health services, for example, to get contraceptive supplies, to access fertility treatment or to obtain an appointment with a gynaecologist. Often health services are not ‘joined up,’ leading to multiple visits and appointment delays.
“The Women’s Reproductive Health Survey provides an opportunity to better understand what support is needed and how these issues can best be addressed,” she said.
According to the press release, just over a year since the launch of the Women’s Health Strategy, more than 300,000 additional women have gained access to more affordable hormone replacement therapy.
The initiative has also seen the establishment of new women’s health hubs nationwide under each integrated care board, along with the addition of a dedicated women’s health section on the NHS website.
Additional measures being implemented include the introduction of an artificial intelligence tool designed to identify early risks in maternity units. Furthermore, £25 million will be allocated across England to facilitate the establishment of women’s health hubs in every region.
A new IVF resource on GOV.UK will enable individuals to access information about NHS-funded IVF treatments.
Additionally, a network of women’s health champions, led by the Women’s Health Ambassador for England, professor Dame Lesley Regan, is set to be established.
A Menopause Employment Champion, Helen Tomlinson, a recruitment, and employability specialist, has been appointed to enhance workplace support for menopause.
Helen is collaborating with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to develop an online collection of menopause-related resources for employers, accessible on GOV.UK. The Menopause Taskforce convened in June to address workplace issues related to menopause.