Women's health: new e-learning module and patient podcast

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10  January 2020

Dr Anne Connolly, RCGP Clinical Champion for Women's Health

The RCGP is expanding its Menstrual Wellbeing toolkit into a Women’s Health hub to include additional resources to help clinicians care for women through a life-course approach. The hub will include new free to access CPD, including Heavy Menstrual Bleeding e-learning and a patient podcasts.

An estimated one in five women suffers with heavy periods, with one in 20 women aged between 30-49 consulting their GP about the issue every year.

At the Menstrual Health Coalition’s launch event, a primary school teacher told of issues she faced when suffering with heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB) at work. On one occasion, she was reprimanded by her headteacher for leaving her class under the care of an experienced classroom assistant while she changed her clothing after ‘flooding’ due to her heavy period. When she asked what alternative action she could have taken she was told she should have remained in class until break time before changing.

'The difficulties and trauma in not knowing what to expect from periods'

Last month a patient podcast was published on the Menstrual Wellbeing Toolkit (see ‘other resources and media’), where patient, Jilly, explained the embarrassment of ‘flooding’ during a swimming lesson at school and being laughed at by other children. She shared her difficulties and trauma in not knowing what to expect about periods and who to talk to about the problems she experienced.

Recently, at the end of a busy GP clinic, I took a phone call from the haematology laboratory. The call informed me that the blood test I had taken from a 38-year-old woman complaining of heavy periods had shown a severe anaemia with a haemoglobin of 40g/l. I then telephoned her to discuss admission to the local gynaecology unit. She told me that over the previous few months she had become increasingly tired and was having to stop halfway up the stairs at home to catch her breath. She just thought she was getting older.

Despite HMB being so common, its psychological and social impact is underestimated. A recent survey of 1000 women with heavy periods found that:

  • 74% experienced anxiety due to HMB
  • 62% reported that HMB had an impact on their physical wellbeing
  • 43% of women are forced to miss work during their period.

New resources 

Last month the RCGP HMB e-learning resource was published. This freely available resource provides an update on the recommendations of NICE HMB guidance (NG88) and apply this to your practice. Working through cases seen commonly in primary care, the learning uses the latest recommendations to help decide on when and which examination and investigations are recommended. It also looks at which management options are appropriate in primary care and when to advise on surgical intervention. It signposts to useful resources for patients to help them make informed choices about management options, including the NICE endorsed shared decision aid for patients.

Through its Menstrual Wellbeing Clinical Spotlight project, and in conjunction with Endometriosis UK, the RCGP is expanding its Menstrual Wellbeing toolkit. It will now include resources to help understand and manage issues that women face across the life course, such as reproductive health, fertility, premenstrual mood disorders, menopause, incontinence and cancers. The Menstrual Wellbeing Toolkit is a key component of the new RCGP Women’s Health Hubm, which will also link to the College’s popular Women’s Health Library resources - the product of joint working between the RCGP, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH).  All resources are reviewed and amended as new materials are published, ensuring that we host as much information as possible in a readily usable format for busy clinicians.


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