menopausal symptoms

According to new research, women going through the menopause are being wrongfully prescribed antidepressants. Worryingly, it also revealed that women are becoming more reluctant to go to their doctor about menopausal symptoms because they feel they won’t get the right level of support.

Here, we’ll look at what the new research revealed and why menopausal women aren’t receiving adequate care and treatment.

Understanding the new research

The new research carried out via a survey entitled “What Women Want at Menopause”, revealed more than a third of women who visit their GP with menopausal symptoms are offered antidepressants. Out of these patients, a staggering 80% believe the antidepressants are an ineffective treatment.

In some cases, antidepressants are even making menopausal symptoms worse. The typical symptoms experienced by the majority of women going through the menopause include mood swings, hot flushes, anxiety, a reduced sex drive, headaches and insomnia. These are just a handful of symptoms that can be experienced. While antidepressants can help to tackle mood swings and help with insomnia, they don’t address the wider symptoms experienced.

The research also discovered that 84% of women don’t feel their GP sufficiently answered their questions regarding the menopause. Just three in ten women also stated they were satisfied with the care received by their GP.

This highlights the issues regarding not just diagnosis and treatment, but with the amount of information provided to patients.

Why are women being wrongfully prescribed antidepressants?

Antidepressants are great for combatting depression and potentially helping with insomnia. However, as they don’t address the other symptoms, why are they being frequently described for menopausal women?

According to some experts, it’s a shortage of HRT which is leading GPs to issue alternative treatments. However, other than HRT, there are very few treatment options available to combat the symptoms of the menopause. So, antidepressants are being prescribed to target the mood-related issues the menopause delivers.

The trouble is, even for treating the mood swings and depression side of the menopause, antidepressants aren’t overly effective. Many women report that antidepressants haven’t helped them at all with their symptoms. If anything, they just left them feeling numb or disconnected from the world around them.

Whatever the reason women are being prescribed antidepressants for menopausal symptoms, it’s clearly not working.

Is HRT the answer?

HRT is the best treatment for managing menopausal symptoms. However, it has come under a lot of scrutiny over the years regarding its safety. Long-term use of the drug is known to link to various cancers such as breast cancer. However, the risk of this is small, particularly for those who don’t go through the early menopause.

So, HRT is the more effective treatment, it’s just difficult for women to get it when they need it. This recent research shows that more education needs to be provided to GP’s in order to answer patient questions and help them find the best possible treatment options.

Women who feel like they are experiencing menopausal symptoms can book a menopause health check. If it is revealed they are going through the menopause, insisting on HRT treatment may be required.

12 week rule in pregnancy

For years women have been following the 12-week rule in pregnancy. Avoiding telling people you’re pregnant until the 12-week mark is said to protect you in case anything goes wrong with the pregnancy. However, some experts claim this has an insidious effect on women, making them feel more alone and scared during those initial early weeks.

So, where does this 12-week rule come from and should women really follow it? Below, we’ll look at why the unwritten rule exists and whether it’s still relevant today.

Where did the rule come from?

Pinpointing when the 12-week rule in pregnancy started isn’t easy. However, we can establish why it began in the first place.

Largely, women stopped telling people they were pregnant in the early weeks due to the risk of miscarriage. It was considered easier to tell people about the pregnancy once the risk of miscarriage had been reduced. That way, if they lost the baby, they wouldn’t need to go through the heartache of telling other people.

However, it isn’t just the heartache of losing a baby that prevents women from revealing their pregnancy earlier. It’s also the attitude many people have over early miscarriages. There’s a view that early miscarriages don’t really count because the foetus wasn’t yet fully developed. If women are met with this attitude while they are grieving, it can make the experience even more devastating.

So, the 12-week rule appears to have been set up to protect women if a miscarriage occurs. However, what it can actually do is cause women and couples to suffer in silence.

Why could it prove damaging to women?

While the intentions behind the 12-week rule may be good, unfortunately, it can cause additional pain and suffering.

Going through a miscarriage at any stage of the pregnancy can be devastating. This is especially true if the couple has been trying to have a baby for a long time. In order to heal and deal with the miscarriage, women need to be surrounded by a good support system. So, if they haven’t told anybody about the pregnancy, they are going to be left dealing with it alone.

Suffering in silence can lead to a lot of additional problems. It can lead to depression and isolation which can both be detrimental to health and wellbeing. So, while some women may feel more comfortable not discussing their pregnancy until later on, it’s equally important for women to feel comfortable if they do want to disclose it.

More awareness needs to be developed

The debate over the 12-week rule is a great way to start raising awareness over the negative implications it can have. Ideally, it should be down to personal choice whether or not a woman wishes to disclose her pregnancy before the 12-week mark.

From a medical standpoint, the 12-week mark is where couples have a 97% chance of having a live baby. However, it’s also important to realise that miscarriages can happen at any stage of pregnancy. There also needs to be more awareness regarding the impact an early miscarriage can have on women. There needs to be a change in attitude, identifying that even before 12 weeks, the loss of a baby can have the same devastating impact as it can later on.

Overall, women shouldn’t feel like they can’t reveal their pregnancy before 12 weeks if they want to. Even from 8 weeks, the chance of having a live baby is said to be 92%. If anything were to go wrong, it also makes it easier for women to be surrounded by support from friends and family.

diagnosing endometriosis

The BBC has recently discovered that thousands of women are being left in crippling pain due to delays in the diagnosis of Endometriosis. The condition, said to affect 1.5 million women in the UK, can be excruciatingly painful and have a significantly negative impact on their lives.

This latest study shockingly revealed that it takes over seven years on average for the condition to be diagnosed. Here, we’ll look at the results of the latest study and what it means for those who do suffer from the condition.

Understanding the latest Endometriosis study

The new research carried out by the BBC, saw 13,500 women take part. The Endometriosis UK charity helped to collect responses to surveys, which saw half report they had experienced suicidal symptoms.

The majority of respondents also said the condition has had a negative impact on their careers, relationships and mental health. It can also have a devastating impact on fertility. By the time a diagnosis is made, the symptoms are often at their worst, and the damage caused to the body is significant.

As a result of this latest study, MPs are set to launch an enquiry into the experiences of women living with the condition.

Why does it take so long to receive a diagnosis?

Considering how many women suffer from Endometriosis, it is shocking that a diagnosis isn’t reached for an average of seven years. Part of the reason is said to be down to a lack of knowledge regarding the condition. Physicians and caregivers could use a lot more education into the condition and the effects it can have.

The symptoms of the condition can also be mistakenly diagnosed as being normal. For example, pain during menstruation is considered normal and given that everyone has a different pain tolerance, it can be difficult for GPs to establish what is normal for patients. The symptoms can also be confused with other conditions.

So, it’s a combination of a lack of awareness about the condition and the symptoms it produces which can cause delays in diagnosis. Some women are also reluctant to talk about the symptoms due to their intimate nature.

What can you do if you suspect you have Endometriosis?

Although this new research highlights how much needs to be done to improve Endometriosis diagnosis, there are things patients can do.

Undergoing a gynaecological exam can help to diagnose the condition. If you don’t have confidence in your GP to diagnose the condition, these scans can be carried out by private clinics such as here at SureScan. These clinics tend to have a lot more knowledge of the condition and how it presents.

While there isn’t a cure for Endometriosis, there are effective treatments which can be used to reduce the symptoms. The earlier these treatments are sought, the less impact the condition will have both on a patients physical and mental health. This latest research highlights the desperate need for GPs and health practitioners to become more knowledgeable on the condition and the effect it can have on patient’s lives. Call 07835 736627 to arrange your appointment.

recurrent miscarriage treatment

Recurrent miscarriages can have a devastating impact on couples trying to have a baby. However, hope for a cure has been provided thanks to a new trial carried out by the University Hospital Coventry and the University of Warwick.

Scientists discovered that an underlying infection could be the cause of recurrent miscarriages. Now, they’ve been given the funding required to find out if medication to cure the infection could be the cure they’ve been looking for.

Understanding the latest recurrent miscarriage trial

The new trial is following on from research carried out by the scientists from the Warwick and Coventry universities. Their initial research showed that recurrent miscarriages could be caused by endometritis, where the lining of the womb becomes inflamed. It’s also known to cause pain and bleeding.

The condition could be treated with antibiotics. The US and Germany are already treating Endometritis with antibiotics, but as of yet no trial has been carried out to establish whether they could also cure recurrent miscarriages.

The Medical Research Council has given the scientists £1.9 million to fund the trial and they are now currently seeking 7,000 couples to take part. The recruitment process is going to take a couple of years due to its large size. If it proves successful, antibiotics could be used to prevent up to half of the women who suffer from recurrent miscarriages.

Cure could be provided before pregnancy

One of the most exciting things about this new discovery is that a cure could be provided before pregnancy. So, it’s a preventative option, rather than a treatment. By treating the inflammation prior to pregnancy, it eliminates the chance a recurrent miscarriage could occur due to Endometritis.

What else could cause miscarriages?

Although this new discovery is a major breakthrough, it’s important to note that it’s only going to help those suffering with Endometritis. There are numerous reasons recurrent miscarriages can occur and Endometritis is just one of them.

Miscarriages tend to occur within the first trimester of pregnancy. In many cases, what caused the miscarriage isn’t known. Recurrent miscarriages are diagnosed when a woman has experienced three or more miscarriages. They also increase the risk of experiencing another one by around 40%.

As well as inflammation and infections, recurrent miscarriages can be caused by:

  • Genetic issues
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Abnormal hormone levels
  • Cervical problems

It’s estimated around half of those who do experience recurrent miscarriages do so because of inflammation of the womb lining. So, the new trial could prove extremely promising for these patients. However, due to other causes, it is crucial patients seek an accurate diagnosis. That way, the best course of treatment can be recommended.

Recurrent miscarriages can be devastating. This new trial provides hope for those experiencing recurrent miscarriages due to infection and inflammation. If antibiotics could be used to eliminate the chances of recurrent miscarriages, it would change the lives of thousands of patients. However, it’s going to take years to establish whether or not antibiotics are a viable cure.

Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing

The screening test, Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT), is designed to look for genetic and chromosomal abnormalities. However, before undergoing this relatively new type of screening, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with what it is, how it works and any potential complications or risks it might present.

To help you decide whether or not it’s right for you, below you’ll discover everything you need to know about Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing.

1. What is NIPT?

NIPT is a simple blood test which analyses tiny fragments of DNA which circulates throughout the body when you’re pregnant. Sometimes referred to as NIPS (Non-Invasive Prenatal Screening), it can determine whether the foetus is likely to be born with genetic abnormalities. The fragments tested aren’t found within the cells like most DNA. Instead, they float around freely.

The bloodstream in pregnant women contains DNA from both the mother and the placenta. The placenta is what links the foetus to the mother and it contains the same DNA as the foetus. Therefore, analysing the placenta DNA through NIPT gives a good indication of whether genetic abnormalities are present.

The test is largely used to detect the presence of Down’s Syndrome, Trisomy 18 and Trisomy 13. It can also be used to screen for additional abnormalities caused by copied or deleted parts of the chromosomes. It’s also starting to be used for genetic issues that are caused by variants within single genes.

2. Does Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing pose any risks?

There are no risks associated with NIPT. It’s a non-invasive blood test, producing the same side effects as any blood test. There’s no risk to the baby and it can be carried out quickly. This is largely what drives the popularity of the test.

3. Are NIPT results accurate?

There’s a lot of misconceptions over the effectiveness of NIPT. The first thing patients need to realise is that the test doesn’t diagnose chromosomal abnormalities. Instead, it reveals the chances your baby would be born with an abnormality. So, it’s not necessarily definitive if the foetus is found to have some abnormalities.

In terms of how accurate the test is, for Down’s Syndrome it has been discovered to be 99% accurate. That being said, false positives can occur so it’s advisable a follow-up amniocentesis or a CVS is carried out to confirm the result.

As for other abnormalities, the accuracy rates vary. So, if you do get a high-risk result back, it’s always worth discussing the risks with your doctor. They’ll be able to schedule follow-up testing to confirm whether the NIPT was accurate.

4. When can I undergo Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing?

If you want to undergo NIPT, you can have it any time after 10 weeks into the pregnancy. It’s a good idea to undergo the test before going for your first Nuchal scan. You can book a NIPT here at SureScan. Call 07835 736627 to arrange your appointment.

Overall, NIPT is a great non-invasive way of determining whether or not your baby has any chromosomal abnormalities. However, it’s important to make sure you understand what the testing involves and what it can and can’t detect.

early pregnancy scan

After finding out you’re pregnant, the wait for the first ultrasound scan can feel like an eternity. Not only are you excited to see your baby for the first time, but you also want to check that everything’s ok.

The good news is, you don’t necessarily have to wait until the first scan offered on the NHS. There’s an option to undergo an early pregnancy scan between 7 and 11 weeks. Here, we’ll look at what an early pregnancy scan is and the top reasons you might want to consider having one.

What is an early pregnancy scan?

An early pregnancy scan is performed before the first Nuchal scan offered on the NHS. This early scan isn’t provided on the NHS so it will need to be performed at a private pregnancy scanning clinic.

It’s typically carried out anywhere between 7 and 11 weeks. This means an abdominal scan can be carried out, rather than internally. In some pregnancies, it may be recommended that testing is carried out before 7 weeks. These scans have to be carried out trans-vaginally.

The benefits of an early pregnancy scan

There’s a number of benefits that come from undergoing an early pregnancy scan. The main one is you can check for abnormalities.

If you’re perceived as having a higher risk pregnancy, an early scan can help to determine whether or not baby is developing as they should. Picking up on any abnormalities early on will prepare you for any decisions you may need to make. It also enables you to be monitored more closely if required.

The scan will also reveal your due date and how far along you are in the pregnancy. You’ll also get to see how many babies you’re expecting. Of course, you’ll also get to actually see your baby for the first time and receive a scan photo early. If nothing else, this early pregnancy scan can help to put your mind at ease if you’ve had a history of difficult pregnancies, or miscarriages.

Are there any risks or complications?

Ultrasound scans, even these early ones, are deemed safe during pregnancy. So, medically there’s no reason you shouldn’t choose to have one. There are a few factors to consider however before determining whether this scan is right for you.

Firstly, it won’t be able to tell you a significant amount of information about your baby. It could also potentially make you feel more anxious having the scan if an abnormality is found. It could also be beneficial waiting to have the first scan at the same time as NIPT screening.

It’s important to take these factors into account as well as the benefits of the scan. If you’re unsure whether or not an early pregnancy scan is right for you, book a consultation with one of our specialists. They will be able to tell you more about the scan and help you determine whether it’s a good option for you. With no risks or side effects, early pregnancy scans can be extremely beneficial; particularly for those with a high-risk pregnancy.

To arrange your early pregnancy scan, call 07835 736627 to arrange an appointment at our Sutton Coldfield pregnancy scan clinic.

menopause health check

At their recent party conference, Labour announced plans to introduce flexible working hours for menopausal women. They are hoping to tackle the stigma behind the condition, as well as make life more bearable for the women going through it.

At the moment, these plans only apply to larger companies which have a minimum of 250 employees. They will also only be introduced if Labour wins the next election. Here, we’ll take a closer look at the new plans and how they could benefit thousands of women across the country.

What are the proposed menopause workplace policies?

The new policies being introduced by Labour would force larger companies to provide flexible working hours to their menopausal workers. Managers would also be required to undergo training to learn more about the condition. This would enable them to better accommodate the needs of their workers.

Under the plans, large employers would also need to treat the menopause as they would a long-term health condition. It’s also recommended they make their absence policies more flexible.

Finally, risk assessments would need to be carried out to ensure the working environment doesn’t exasperate symptoms. For example, adjustments to ventilation may be required to help relieve symptoms such as hot flushes.

Plans hope to move towards equality in the workplace

Labour is hoping that these new plans will help to move towards better equality in the workplace. Women are often at a disadvantage in the workplace due to menopausal and menstrual problems. The stigma relating to these issues also makes it difficult for those suffering to get the help they need.

These plans are just part of the Labour party’s goal to improve the workplace for women. They’re also planning on forcing large companies to come up with solid action plans for narrowing the gender pay gap. Tougher action over harassment at work will also be put into place through the Equalities Act.

Menopause is linked to impaired thinking

Although these new proposed plans are likely to cause controversy, there are scientific studies which back up the impact the menopause can have in the workplace.

Researchers from the University of Illinois discovered that night sweats experienced in the menopause can lead to impaired thinking. This is largely down to the sleep disturbances it can cause.

Interestingly, the study found that menopausal women who experience night sweats, tend to sleep for longer. The longer they do sleep, the harder they find it to think straight during the day. It’s worth pointing out that the study only found a link and not a direct association. However, it still backs up the troubles menopausal women can have in the workplace if their sleep is affected.

Having more flexible working hours and a greater understanding of the menopause in the workplace would be a major step forward in equality. However, it all rests on whether Labour actually gets voted in. Even if they don’t, other parties are likely to see the potential of the plans and could come up with something similar. In the meantime, those who are suffering from menopausal symptoms can use medications to minimise symptoms.

To book your menopause health check, call SureScan on 07835 736627.

viability scan

Ultrasound scans are crucial for checking that baby is developing well in the womb. As well as NHS scans, pregnant women can also opt to have private ultrasound scans. Here, we’ll look at the different scans available and what you can expect from NHS vs private ultrasounds.

Understanding ultrasound scans

An ultrasound scan enables you to see how baby is developing. Ultrasound gel is placed onto the abdomen by a trained sonographer. A handheld device is then rubbed over the gel, sending ultrasound waves into the womb, which then produces an image of the baby. These scans are carried out for a number of reasons. They look at the size of baby, while also figuring out the due date. They also detect how many babies you’re expecting, and whether or not they are developing healthily. It may also be possible to detect some types of abnormalities. These types of scans are considered safe for both you and baby.

What pregnancy scans are offered under the NHS?

The NHS typically offers two ultrasound scans to pregnant women. These are standard 2D ultrasound scans including the early pregnancy scan and the anomaly scan. The early pregnancy scan can be carried out anytime between 8 and 14 weeks. This scan tells you your due date and identifies how many babies you’re expecting. You’ll also discover whether or not they are developing as well as they should. At this scan, you should be offered screening for chromosomal abnormalities such as Down’s Syndrome.

The testing for chromosomal abnormalities involves a scan and a blood test. It can take a couple of weeks to receive the results and it isn’t able to 100% detect whether or not there is a problem. However, it can help to identify the risk.

The second scan, known as the anomaly scan, takes place between 18 and 21 weeks. This is where baby’s heart, bones, brain, abdomen, face, kidneys and spinal cord are assessed. The sonographer will check for the presence of any potential problems.

What private pregnancy scans are available?

As well as the free tests offered by the NHS, patients can also choose to undergo private testing. There are numerous private tests available including a viability scan, gender scan and 3D scans.

The viability scan can be undertaken between 6 and 10 weeks into the pregnancy. While you won’t be able to see much of baby right now, it’s a great test for reassurance if you’ve suffered previous miscarriages for example. The gender scan is usually carried out 20 weeks into the pregnancy on the NHS. However, private scans can potentially reveal baby’s gender after 16 weeks. Then finally, you have the 3D scans. These are offered during the second half of the pregnancy, giving you a 3D view of your baby inside the womb.

There are benefits to having both NHS and private ultrasound scans. For those who are worried about their pregnancy, private scans can be used to provide reassurance. If you’re not sure whether or not a private scan would be useful, call 07835 736627 to book a consultation at our private pregnancy scanning clinic today.

early menopause

A research breakthrough has discovered a way to postpone the menopause, allowing women to have children later in life. Scientists have developed a procedure which is being carried out by the pioneer of IVF treatment. Not only does this new procedure enable women to have children later in life, but it can also delay early menopause. Here, we’ll look at this new procedure and the benefits it can deliver.

Understanding the procedure to postpone early menopause

The new procedure is the first of its kind, co-founded by four world-renowned reproductive medicine experts. It’s said to take just half an hour and involves no pain. It comes at a cost between £6,000 and £11,000 and can be provided to patients up until the age of 40. If the patient is choosing to have the procedure for fertility rather than hormonal purposes, the age limit drops to 35.

The procedure involves removing ovarian tissue and freezing it until it is needed. Keyhole surgery is performed to remove part of the tissue. Then, it’s sliced up before being frozen and stored.

The earlier the procedure is carried out; the more eggs will be viable when the woman does choose to start a family. So, for example, if patients have the procedure at 30 and then choose to start a family at 40, the tissue re-grafted onto the body will be 10 years younger. This greatly increases the chances of fertility. So far, nine women have undergone the procedure.

The benefits of the procedure

This new procedure is revolutionary in the fertility sector. Thousands of women go through early menopause. While HRT is available to combat some of the side effects, it does nothing to improve fertility. There are also health issues linked to HRT, particularly in its long-term use.

The procedure is thought to be able to delay the menopause by up to 20 years. This is excellent news for women who have a high risk of going through early menopause. The earlier the procedure is carried out, the longer it will delay the menopause later on. Not only can it help to preserve fertility, but it can also prevent serious health conditions associated with early menopause.

Cost-cutting benefits for the NHS

The benefits of the new procedure don’t just stop at fertility and health. It’s also thought that there’s going to be significant cost-cutting benefits for the NHS too. This is because it’s going to greatly reduce the need for Menopausal treatments. It will also reduce the number of women experiencing serious health complications from the menopause such as osteoporosis and heart conditions.

Overall, this new procedure is a fantastic development within the sector. It provides hope for millions of women. While it is still fairly new, it is likely to become a lot more prominent in the private health sector in the coming years. Eventually, the procedure may even be offered by the NHS, particularly if it does significantly reduce costs.

Recurrent miscarriage

Recurrent miscarriages can be devastating for couples. Usually, tests are carried out on the woman to determine the cause of the miscarriages. However, a recent study has revealed that recurrent miscarriages could actually be linked to faulty sperm. It is thought DNA damage is a major contributor to recurrent miscarriages. Here, we’ll look at what the recent study discovered and what it means for the future of fertility treatments.

What did the study find?

The study, carried out by the Imperial College London, looked into the sperm quality of 50 men. Their partners had suffered recurring miscarriages, which medically refers to at least three miscarriages in a row. There were 110 men involved in the study overall.

When they compared the results to men whose partners hadn’t experienced a miscarriage, it was discovered there was more DNA damage present in the sperm. They are hoping this small-scale study will open the doors to further research and the identification of treatments to reduce miscarriage risk.

Study highlights importance of male health in fertility

Although only a small study, its results do highlight the importance of male health in fertility. It is thought that bacteria left over from previous infections could be a factor in the increased sperm DNA damage. The bacteria which lives within the prostate gland, would increase the levels of reactive oxygen species. Obesity is also known to lead to fertility issue in men. It’s thought that an increased fat content can lead to a reactive oxygen species increase, in turn affecting fertility.

According to the results of the recent study, age could also be a factor in the poorer sperm quality of the men studied. Those whose partners had suffered a miscarriage were seven years older than the other group of men. They were also slightly more overweight. The researchers are now looking into whether these factors could have affected the reactive oxygen species levels.

Further research into recurrent miscarriage needs to be carried out

The results of this latest study highlight the need for additional research to be carried out. In particular, more needs to be discovered about whether reactive oxygen species increase the risk of miscarriages. If it is found they have an impact on fertility, new treatment solutions could be developed to lower the levels.

Understanding that both partners health could contribute to fertility is crucial in diagnosis and treatment. Although medicine has been very slow to catch up to the fact that male sperm could be the cause of miscarriages, this new study goes some way to increase awareness. Now, further research into sperm health and miscarriages will help to potentially develop new treatment avenues.

It’s thought that one in 50 couples experience recurring miscarriages in the UK. This new study will hopefully lead the way to more in-depth, larger studies being carried out. Couples who are currently experiencing troubles conceiving naturally should reach out to a fertility specialist. There are numerous treatments currently available, along with tests for both the male and female partner.

Call 07835 736627 for more advice from SureScan Women’s Health Clinic.