The Advertising Standards Authority recently classed the female menopause as a ‘serious medical condition’. What?? Isn’t it just a stage of life all women go through?
There was a bit of backlash against this from some campaigners during October. If we’re going to start medicalising menopause, what about puberty? The extension of this line of thought means any kind of symptom could be classed as needing medical supervision. On 12th October the ASA updated the wording to explain what they meant (without actually really changing the meaning!). The new text on the ASA website:
Whilst the menopause itself is obviously not a medical condition, the ASA is likely to consider the symptoms of the menopause to be conditions for which medical supervision should be sought. Claims to treat those symptoms are likely to discourage essential treatment, unless that treatment is carried out under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional (rule 12.2).
The ASA is an advertising regulatory body. Their job is to stop people advertising products that don’t meet with their rules and regulations about areas of health such as herbs, food, supplements and complementary therapies.
Symptoms of the menopause are commonly hot flushes, fatigue, insomnia and night sweats. The ‘essential treatment’which the ASA fear could be ‘discouraged’ by women seeking alternative solutions would be HRT. There is some conflicting research about the effects on HRT but in some studies HRT has been linked to an increased risk of a woman getting ovarian or breast cancer, and possibly heart disease or stroke. For many women HRT works extremely well, and it should continue to be a choice for women who decide that is right for them.
However if no other health practitioner other than a doctor may offer any other treatment other than HRT, women will be left with a medicalised approach as their only option for menopause symptoms.