Additionally, BAME women face a language barrier- They find it hard to vocalise their symptoms in terminology that western trained doctors will understand, and then women for whom English is not their first language, they really struggle to express their symptoms. Relying on relatives to translate adds to the embarrassment and barrier to treatment. Interpreter services available on the NHS require booking weeks/months in advance and they are in short supply across different Clinical Commissioning Groups’s (CCG’s) across England.
BAME Women manage their symptoms in a range of ways. Particularly preferring to use ‘alternative’ methods such as herbs, spices and using soya based products. BAME women also use coping methods such as eating healthy diets, exercising, wearing light clothing, taking cold showers or drinks during hot flushes. One lady I met, used laughter therapy to deal with her depression.
BAME women are using HRT- HOWEVER the uptake is low (4). This is because BAME women feel that their symptoms were not severe enough. They also believe that HRT would encourage the return of menstruation or cause cancer, therefore prefer using alternatives or feel they can cope without treatment. Many women understand that HRT involves taking tablets daily, but are unaware of patches and gels which carry less risk in association with breast cancer.
The message that HRT has cardiovascular benefits, prevents osteoporotic fractures and Alzheimer’s disease and potentially bowel cancer is being lost.
Studies have shown that women did not receive adequate information from their GPs regarding HRT and would prefer GPs from their own ethnic group who might be more understanding of the social and cultural ties. The impact of sexual dysfunction that ensues with the menopause affects women and their partner equally. Women do not know about vaginal atrophy as the cause of painful sex. Men in their 40s – 60s either don’t know about the menopause or feel completely helpless in approaching or helping the woman they love.