An Open Letter to the UK Government
Re: The Menopause Revolution
It's estimated that there are currently 13 million women (voters!) in the UK who are peri- or menopausal — that’s nearly 20% of the population, with a further 31% due to experience this life change in the future.
For some women, navigating this biological milestone is relatively smooth but for many, the loss of reproductive function is physically uncomfortable, exhausting and deeply confusing. Most women face a series of difficult mental gymnastics linked to losing their fertility, because it’s something society has always linked to femininity, female identity and social value. For trans men, non-binary and gender non-conforming people, the menopause can also be a sharp reminder that their biology doesn’t conform with their identity, which can cause dysphoria. It’s a time traditionally endured behind closed doors and the current lack of support, or even conversation, leaves many feeling invisible and alone.
Common menopause symptoms — affecting three in four women — include hot flushes, insomnia, fatigue, decreased sex drive, bladder control difficulties, weight gain, headaches, anxiety, accelerated ageing, hair loss, brain fog and even suicidal thoughts. The thing is, there are plenty of solutions out there to support and ease women through this period, but many GPs are not sufficiently trained to recognise or treat the symptoms. Frequently, this means those experiencing menopausal symptoms do not receive the care they deserve, and many are misdiagnosed with depression and put on antidepressants.
This is not ‘just’ a health issue; unsupported menopause symptoms can lead to work absences and even the complete loss of experienced talent from our workforce and economy — at a time when the country needs people to work further into their retirement.
There is one medical treatment well documented to help menopausal symptoms — Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) — and it’s one of the only hormonal therapies NOT free on the NHS prescription in England. Most private health insurance plans do not cover menopause, and one broadly effective form of female HRT for the menopause — testosterone — is available only through private prescription.
This is why we, Cult Beauty, are encouraging you to support the cross party backed Menopause (Support & Services) Bill, that’s due to have its second reading in the House of Commons on the 29th of October 2021. To reach the next milestone, 100 MPs must turn up to show their support for the Bill in the House on the 29th.
This Bill has the power to provide access to support and services given to those experiencing the different stages of menopause in the UK, including the exemption of HRT from NHS prescription charges. Despite being free of charge to those in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, those needing access to HRT without charge in England remain left behind.
In supporting this critical campaign, Cult Beauty along with the Menopause APPG aims to trigger a shift in the way society supports women, non-binary people and trans men through this time — not just medically and emotionally but at work and at home too — and influence other businesses to innovate their policies.
As a predominantly female-run business, Cult Beauty recognises the impact on those who face challenges in this area and their ability to carry out their normal day-to-day activities at work. With over a third of female workers feeling too embarrassed to discuss the menopause with their employers, having an open and honest work environment is the first step to supporting their journey. With this in mind, we have introduced our ‘Reproductive Lifecycle Policy’: our commitment to providing an inclusive and supportive working environment for women (and people with ovaries) not only going through menopause, but also miscarriage, IVF, pregnancy and maternity too.
As well as campaigning for free HRT with immediate effect, and urging parliament to vote, we challenge people and businesses across the UK to join us in normalising the conversation and helping to implement long-term change in society too.
We hope you will support what will be a milestone change for women, non-binary people and trans men experiencing the menopause, as well as a positive initiative for the workforce and the future economy!
Join the revolution @cultbeauty @APPGMenopause #MenopauseRevolution.
Co-Founder & Co-CEO, Cult Beauty