Menopause

 While menopause is a normal life stage for women, symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats can be distressing, and tend to be more severe following breast cancer treatment sometimes having a negative impact on emotional wellbeing and quality of life[1]. Approximately 50% of women seek help for menopausal symptoms[2] and research shows that many express a preference for non-hormonal treatments, particularly if this is following breast cancer treatment. [3] 

It is with this in mind that a team including myself developed cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) group and self-help interventions for well women[4] and breast cancer patients[5] to help develop coping strategies to reduce the negative impact of these symptoms. These interventions were evaluated in 2 randomised control treatment trials, a gold standard in research. Women participating in group CBT or self help were significantly more likely to report reduced interference of hot flushes and night sweats, improved coping strategies and had additional benefits for mood, sleep, and general quality of life. 

CBT is an evidenced based intervention recommended as part of the National Institute of Clinical Excellence guidelines for Menopause and offers an alternative to women wishing to avoid medical treatments or who are unable to access HRT due to health status.

As CBT Lead on the trials, I can offer:

  1. individualised or group CBT sessions;

  2. Skype sessions for individual therapy;

  3. Guided self help by Skype / telephone using the self help guide if you do not live in the Greater Manchester area;

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The CBT self help book, found to be effective in reducing impact of menopausal symptoms and improving mood and sleep can be purchased on Amazon.

Training workshops for health professionals and organisations wishing to understand more about a bio-psycho-social approach to menopause.

I have trained two cohorts of health professionals in the intervention in conjunction with the British Menopause Society. Attendees ranged from GPs, Gynaecologists, Nurse Specialists, Psychologists, and Occupational Health Consultants. A further training workshop is planned again in 2020 again in conjunction with the British Menopause Society and I continue to train teams on a freelance basis.

https://thebms.org.uk/meeting/cognitive-behavior-therapy-for-menopause-symptoms/

References

[1] Ayers, B., & Hunter, M. S. (2013). Health-related quality of life of women with menopausal hot flushes and night sweats. Climacteric, 16(2), 235-239.

[2] Hunter, M., & Rendall, M. (2007). Bio-psycho-socio-cultural perspectives on menopause. Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 21(2), 261-274.

[3] Hunter, M. S., Grunfeld, E. A., Mittal, S., Sikka, P., Ramirez, A. J., Fentiman, I., & Hamed, H. (2004). Menopausal symptoms in women with breast cancer: prevalence and treatment preferences. Psycho‐Oncology, 13(11), 769-778.

[4] Ayers, B., Smith, M., Hellier, J., Mann, E., & Hunter, M. S. (2012). Effectiveness of group and self-help cognitive behavior therapy in reducing problematic menopausal hot flushes and night sweats (MENOS 2): a randomized controlled trial. Menopause, 19(7), 749-759.

[5] Mann, E., Smith, M., Hellier, J., & Hunter, M. S. (2011). A randomised controlled trial of a cognitive behavioural intervention for women who have menopausal symptoms following breast cancer treatment (MENOS 1): trial protocol. BMC cancer, 11(1), 44