Normalising Perimenopause conversations and management in Women of Colour
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Normalising Perimenopause conversations and management in Women of Colour

Normalising Perimenopause conversations and management in Women of Colour

By Simphiwe Sesane, Registered Nurse and Love Sex Life LSL Community Champion

In the London boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark, and Lewisham (LSL) individuals face some of the greatest sexual health inequalities, these include high rates of STIs/HIV, emergency contraception use and termination of pregnancy.

Illustration of Simphiwe Sesane by Joel Harvey 2021

According to the “The British Menopause Society, one in two women aged 45-65 had gone through the menopause within the past ten years without consulting a healthcare professional.”
With that in mind, accessing intrinsic services for women of colour may prove even more difficult due to multifactorial issues. For example, poor experiences, not feeling listened to, inability to articulate their concerns in a way that is expected, resulting in misunderstanding. Therefore, more needs to be done to engage these communities.

The menopause is a natural progression with age, however this is something that is still not talked about or displayed that often especially in Black, Asian and ethnic communities. Women often undergo perimenopause symptoms like:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Period changes
  • Hot flushes/night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness, itching, pain
  • Headaches
  • Palpitations
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Mood changes and more.

There is poor research data on the experiences of menopause in women of colour, also lower uptake of perimenopause management. More needs to be done to address these issues and break down factors like colonization, systemic racial injustices, and many more, which will result in better access to life changing management.

Breaking down barriers in accessing care?
It is important to understand people’s cultures and beliefs to provide culturally sensitive care.
Culturally sensitive care has been described as “the ability to be appropriately responsive to the attitudes, feelings, or circumstances of groups of people that share a common and distinctive racial, national, religious, linguistic, or cultural heritage”. This encompasses understanding how individuals may view menopause, as this can be viewed very differently in various cultures. Patient centred care that is responsive and inclusive to individuals and communities’ needs is intrinsic.

Language is often seen as a barrier, to overcome it, it is important to put women first. Often these women will have multifactorial issues and will need that tentative care as they may have other factors like domestic abuse, trafficking and many more.
Working with healthcare professionals and community champions to engage those from hard to reach communities, signposting them to services that are equipped to engage these women in a culturally sensitive way should be prioritised. Women from these hard to reach communities are often from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, resulting in poorer health outcomes. Normalising culturally sensitive conversations around women’s health and perimenopause, will result in inclusivity and better health outcomes.

Simphiwe Sesane
Registered Nurse, Community Champion

  • References
    British Menopause Society (2020) British Menopause Society Fact Sheet. Available from: BMS-NationalSurvey-SEPT2020-B.pdf ( Accessed 9th of July 2021.
  • Kings Fund (2021) The Health of people from ethnic minority groups in England. Available from: The health of people from ethnic minority groups in England | The King’s Fund ( Accessed 9th of July 2021.
  • US Department of Health and Human Services, OPHS Office of Minority Health (2001) National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health Care. Available from: National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health Care EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ( Accessed 9th of July 2021.
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