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Bridging the gap in menopause care for minority ethnic women

Sultana Bi 24 Aug 2023 Area of Practice Womens Health

Are you a nurse that sees women from ethnic minorities in primary care? Then you may encounter women who are experiencing symptoms of peri/menopause. This blog discusses research into the experiences of 14 women from different ethnic minority groups.

We carried out research which included asking primary health care practitioners about their experience of those seeking peri/menopause help amongst women from ethnic minorities. We also wanted to hear women’s experiences, so we spoke with 14 women from different ethnic minority groups to explore their experiences of seeking help for peri/menopause.

In our qualitative study, some primary care practitioners suggested that ethnic minority women did not appear to seek help for their peri/menopause symptoms. Others described women presenting with various symptoms at different appointments, but recognised that the symptoms were not always being connected to peri/menopause. From women with lived experience, we heard how they did seek help for symptoms but were not always made aware at the time that these could be linked to the menopause and that it was not always recognised by practitioners either.

Ethnic minority women may culturally articulate their menopause differently to the health practitioners’ understanding of peri/menopause. For example, one practitioner described women complaining of heat coming out of their head or their tummy, or complaining of joint pains. These symptoms were sometimes attributed to other conditions such as Vitamin D deficiency or arthritis. Practitioners also felt to explore symptoms further and identify peri/menopause in this group of patients was challenging in short consultation times.

From speaking with practitioners and women, we came up with some recommendations to support practitioners and women. We recommended practitioners take a holistic menopause care lens and join the dots in terms of presenting symptoms, while recognising the cultural differences in descriptions of menopause symptoms. If there is an ability to offer longer consultation times, this would support practitioners to explore women’s symptoms. To support women to advocate for themselves and connect their symptoms to the peri/menopause to enable help-seeking, we recommend offering access to a female practitioner, supplying literature in a variety of languages, and holding menopause awareness events. In thanks to the women who shared their experience with us, we returned to hold a menopause awareness session which was well attended and received among the community groups.

Acknowledgement: This study/project is funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Policy Research Programme (NIHR202450). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

Contributing authors: Sultana Bi, Advanced Nurse Practitioner, The Lister Surgery. Jen MacLellan, Qualitative Researcher, Oxford University. Sharon Dixon, General Practitioner. Francine Toye, Qualitative Researcher, Oxford University. Abigail McNiven, Qualitative Researcher, Oxford University. 


Sultana Bi

Sultana Bi

Advanced Nurse Practitioner

Primary Care Advanced Nurse Practitioner, with interest in women's health.

Page last updated - 20/02/2024