Davina McCall has helped menopause emerge from darkness – but more must be done

Thanks to Davina ­McCall, the ­menopause is ­finally emerging from ­the darkness. ­Excellent.

What saddens me is I wrote a book on ­menopause in 1994 aiming to help women manage it – and nothing changed.

Davina felt forced to go over the well-trodden path I’d taken all those years ago.

And it’s not just the menopause. Women’s health and ­wellbeing is disgracefully ­underserved due to an outdated medical culture.

A study from UCL is a step in the right direction, though, stating women’s reproductive needs should be ­considered holistically by focusing on pregnancy prevention and pregnancy preparation at the same time.

Researchers have brought together a lot of evidence to develop a model that would better serve the needs of women and their partners.

Staggeringly, they found health services only view women as being either pregnant or not pregnant, and don’t consider their health in between.

This can influence both their chances of becoming pregnant and of having a healthy pregnancy, as well as their own health in the short and long term.

As 90% of women of reproductive age have at least one risk factor affecting pregnancy – such as a low or high BMI – their health before they become pregnant is an important factor contributing to maternal deaths, particularly in marginalised groups.

The research team recommends that education and social media could be more supportive in helping women work out their reproductive ­preferences.

They’ve developed a helpful framework that brings together family planning, contraception and preconception care.

The model suggests children in school could be taught about ­reproductive needs, such as ­preconception health advice and contraception.

Social media campaigns could also raise awareness of the opportunities and benefits of choosing if or when to have children.

Additionally, professionals could routinely ask patients about their reproductive preferences and digital tools made available directing people to appropriate advice or services.

Lead author, UCL’s Dr Jenny Hall, describing the roll-out of their model, said it “can be adapted and implemented across a range of primary care settings, including general practice and sexual and reproductive health services, with appropriate training for health professionals”.

This would bridge the gap between contraception and antenatal services and better serve women’s needs during their fertile years.

Dr Hall added it “shows how preconception healthcare in the community can shift from concept to reality and how the gap between contraception and antenatal services can be bridged to holistically support women’s needs across their reproductive life course”.