When will the NHS acknowledge that only women experience the menopause?


But the new version completely omits women from the overview.  Experts have warned that women could be disadvantaged by genderless medical advice that confuses health messages

Today, feminist activists urged Steve Barclay to work to get waking language removed from NHS advising websites.

The phrase “women” and “female” were subtly removed from the health service’s website a year ago since menopause is a condition that only affects biological women.

The NHS advice contained six gender-specific entries before the ‘inclusive’ update on May 17 last year.

Experts were baffled by the change, which was echoed on other health pages for cancers of female organs such as the uterus and ovaries. They warned women could miss out on critical health information as a result.

MailOnline’s exposure to the trend even prompted then Health Minister Sajid Javid to commit to reversing the creeping gender-neutral language in NHS advice.

But the new version completely omits women from the overview. Experts have warned that women could be disadvantaged by genderless medical advice that confuses health messages

The NHS has quietly dropped the terms 'women' and 'female' from its menopause web page.  Shown here is the older version of the menopause summary page (May 16) which mentioned women six times

The NHS has quietly dropped the terms ‘women’ and ‘female’ from its menopause web page. Shown here is the older version of the menopause summary page (May 16) which mentioned women six times

Here are some examples of the awake language changes that have swept the NHS.  Some of these are taken from national NHS communications, while others are used by individual hospitals

Here are some examples of the awake language changes that have swept the NHS. Some of these are taken from national NHS communications, while others are used by individual hospitals

He shared our story on Twitter and wrote, “I have received assurances that the changes highlighted below, as well as others, will be rolled back.”

However, a year later and three health secretaries later, no changes have been made.

During this time, the NHS’s ‘male menopause’ page has remained untouched – with the online resource freely using the terms ‘men’ and ‘males’.

While the current Health Minister, Mr Barclay, has expressed anger at taxpayer-funded guidelines calling for NHS staff to avoid using pronouns, he has yet to pledge to put ‘women’ back on the health pages of the NHS for women.

Feminist writer Milli Hill said, “Menopause is not a gendered experience, you can’t identify yourself in or out of it.

“It’s a sexed experience — it only happens to women.”

“Clear language in public health messages is vital, and women’s health is an area that has been poorly researched for decades and riddled with shame and misinformation.

“It doesn’t help to add to this by de-liberating the narrative around female biological experiences.”

Ex-Health Minister Sajid Javid vowed to reverse gender-neutral language in NHS advice after MailOnline revealed that the term 'women' had been quietly erased from menopause advice in June.  His new successor, Thérèse Coffey, has yet to commit

Sajid Javid has pledged to reverse gender neutral language in NHS advice after MailOnline revealed the term ‘women’ had been quietly erased from menopause advice

Ex-Minister of Health Sajid Javid vowed that the gender-neutral language changes on the NHS's women's health pages would be reversed

However, a year later, the current Health Minister, Steve Barclay, has yet to confirm whether he will honor that commitment and that the NHS's women's health pages will remain in their gender-neutral form.

Ex-Minister of Health Sajid Javid (left) promised that the gender-neutral language changes on the NHS’s women’s health pages would be reversed. However, a year later, current Health Minister Steve Barclay (right) has yet to confirm whether he will honor that commitment and that the NHS’s women’s health pages will remain in their gender-neutral form.

She added that while the lack of a fix for the NHS transition page was regrettable, she hoped it would be rectified soon.

“I really hope this is just a mistake and that Steve Barclay will fulfill Sajid Javid’s commitment to ensure that women remain at the center of the language around their own health,” she said.

Professor Jenny Gamble, a midwifery expert from Coventry University, added: ‘It is disappointing that the NHS is continuing to remove the word ‘women’ from sex-related health information.

‘Moreover, it is worrying that this does not seem to be the case for men.

Plain language principles for health communication should be used. Where gender is relevant, the gender of the target audience should be used. The word “women” should be used in connection with information about menopause.

“Will Steve Barclay honor Mr Javid’s commitment to reverse the removal of the word ‘women’ from NHS web pages?”

Mr Barclay did not immediately respond to campaigners’ calls.

However, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health and Social Care said: ‘The government has been clear that biology matters, that there are different health needs between the sexes and that we should not condone the expungement of women from our public discourse or our legislation.

“We work with NHS agencies to ensure that women are well represented in communication and guidance, and that appropriate use of gender-specific language is made to communicate matters pertaining to women’s and men’s individual health issues, and their different biological needs.’

The spokesperson did not offer a timetable for the changes to be made.

An NHS spokesperson said: ‘The NHS website provides information for everyone and we constantly monitor the pages to ensure they use language that is inclusive, respectful and relevant to the people who read it.

“The word ‘woman’ remains vital for health information about women’s health.”

It comes after Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey stated yesterday that some women can ‘obviously’ have a penis, in a debate over trans rights.

Tory figures like MP Brendan Clarke-Smith seized on the comments, saying it was proof the party was ‘out of touch’.

He added: ‘It just shows the danger that a coalition with Labour, with what is effectively the anti-women’s alliance, would bring.’

Menopause describes changes that occur when a woman stops menstruating and can no longer conceive naturally.

Hormonal changes that occur during menopause can cause a wide variety of debilitating symptoms, including depression, brain fog, and hot flashes.

Increasing awareness about the condition means that more and more women are coming forward for advice or medication.

The NHS webpage on menopause used to describe the condition as ‘when a woman stops menstruating and can no longer conceive naturally’.

But the gender-neutral description now reads, “Menopause is when your period stops because of lower hormone levels.”

The old advice also stressed that menopause usually occurs in women between the ages of 45 and 55, but that about one in 100 women experience it before the age of 40.

None of this information is included in the summary section of the updated web page.

The first mention of the term ‘women’ in the new version can be found in the fourth page, in a section on drugs to treat the condition.

But the NHS’s menopause page isn’t alone in a debate about erasing women.

Female-specific terms have also been removed from the health pages for only ovarian, uterine, and cervical cancers, organs unique to biological women.

As with menopause, no such gender-neutral changes have been made in male cancers, such as testicular cancer.

NHS Digital, which runs health information web pages for the health service, told MailOnline last year it wanted to ensure language on its pages was ‘inclusive’.

Similar changes have also been seen on NHS pages on miscarriages and breastfeeding, opting instead for ‘people who know they are pregnant’ and instead of ‘women’ and ‘breast milk’ instead of ‘breast milk’.

When WILL the NHS recognise only women go through the menopause?