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This Week in Women’s Health – 8th September 2023

September 8, 2023

Female health

Female health blog header

This week in women’s health: period tracking apps are under scrutiny, there’s a new Government survey into women’s reproductive health, hundreds of women take legal action against Bayer, and a new study finds women aren’t getting the correct menopause support.

Women using smart phone

Period Tracking Apps to be Reviewed over Data Concerns

Apps that help you track your menstrual cycle can be a blessing, helping us to keep track of what’s going on, understand how we feel and help make it easier to start a family.

However, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is concerned over the privacy and security of users’ data.

Following a survey of 1,152 women in the UK, the ICO found that 59% said they were concerned about data transparency, while 57% were worried about the security of their information.

Women in the survey also noted seeing more fertility and baby-related adverts after using period tracking apps, with 17% of them finding this ‘distressing’. 

The ICO will be reviewing how period tracking apps process users data, and to ‘identify whether there is the potential for harm and negative impact on users’ when using these apps.

“Since I stopped using the combined pill, I’ve been using Clue to track my menstrual cycle. I have 6 years worth of data which helps to predict my next period and it’s where I record any symptoms related to my hormones. As someone with PMDD, I find this so useful to understand my body and plan ahead however; news of how the app may be using my data is concerning.”

Aimee, Forth’s Paid Media Manager

At Forth, we take our customers’ data security seriously which is why we are certified and audited under the ISO/IEC 27001 Information Security Management standard. 

New Government Survey on Reproductive Health

Women across England are being ‘encouraged’ to share their experiences in a range of reproductive issues, including menstrual health, contraception, pregnancy planning and menopause.

We’re pleased to see the government taking more interest in female health issues. Many female health issues are under-researched, as highlighted in a previous weekly round up, only 2.1% of funding is spent on researching reproductive health and childbirth.

Responses to the survey will ‘shape future policy on women’s health, enhance care and improve wellbeing’.

Minister for Women’s Health Strategy, Maria Caulfield, said: ‘Women and girls deserve the best healthcare at every stage of their lives, but we simply cannot deliver that without listening to their lived experiences and concerns.’

You can take the survey here, and is open to all women in England aged 16 to 55 years, running for 6 weeks from Thursday 7 September 2023.

Funded by the Department of Health and Social Care, questions in the survey look to answer questions such as:

  • how much pain you experience during periods
  • how you prefer to access contraceptive services
  • how satisfied you were with any support you received for menopausal symptoms

“With women facing such inequality in health it is vital that we let our voices be heard by sharing our experiences. Women experience the gender health gap every day from misinformation over the use of HRT to being dismissed when questioning extreme pain during periods.  It’s time for change so make sure your voice is heard!”

Sarah Bolt, Forth Founder & CEO

Hundreds of women in the UK are taking legal action against the Pharmaceutical giant Bayer, after experiencing excruciating pain, bleeding and nickel poisoning after having a contraceptive coil fitted.

Pogust Goodhead, a law firm representing women in the UK, said many women who had the coil fitted have later undergone hysterectomies or are waiting for procedures to get the coil taken out.

The Essure coil was taken off the market by Bayer in 2017, after multiple lawsuits have been filed against them from around the world. 

Some US cases have already been settled, so there is hope more women will be able to claim damages for the trauma they’ve endured.

If you’ve had adverse side effects from using this specific coil, you can get in touch with Pogust Goodhead to see if you can make a claim.

Misinformation Preventing Women from Getting Effective Menopause Treatment

New research from the Monash University in Australia has found that women going through menopause are not receiving effective treatment for their menopause symptoms.

Widespread misinformation is cited as part of the problem. 

A comprehensive literature review led by Prof Susan Davis calls for more personalised treatment plans that address the greatly varying physical and mental symptoms of menopause.

According to the review, more than 85% of women in high-income countries do not receive effective, regulator-approved treatment for their menopausal symptoms.

“Midlife for women can be pretty tough,” Davis said. “They’ve got a lot of balls in the air. They’re balancing a lot of things in their life. And then you add into the mix sleep deprivation from hot flushes and night sweats, unexplained waves of anxiety, lack of confidence, vaginal dryness so you don’t want to have sex with your partner because it hurts.

“A whole lot of these symptoms are treatable. But you’re not being treated, and that really impairs your quality of life.”

In some cases, Davis said, hormone therapy is inappropriately prescribed when other treatments such as lowering blood pressure and correcting cholesterol would be more appropriate.

While the paper found evidence-based non-hormonal interventions are also available for symptom relief, “the most effective treatment for bothersome menopausal symptoms is evidence-based, menopausal hormone therapy [also known as Hormone Replacement Therapy or HRT], which reduces bone loss and may have cardiometabolic benefits”.

This information has been medically reviewed by Dr Thom Phillips

Thom works in NHS general practice and has a decade of experience working in both male and female elite sport. He has a background in exercise physiology and has published research into fatigue biomarkers.

Dr Thom Phillips

Dr Thom Phillips

Head of clinical services