Landmark survey seeks women’s views on reproductive health
Women in England are being encouraged to help shape reproductive health policy by sharing their experiences, as the government launches a landmark survey
- Launch of national online survey to gather vital data on women’s menstrual health, contraception, pregnancy planning, and menopause
- Responses will help shape future policy on women’s health, enhance care, and improve wellbeing
- Survey delivers on key commitment to ensure the health and care system prioritises women’s voices
Women across England are being encouraged to help shape future reproductive health policy by sharing their experiences of a range of issues, as the government launches a new landmark survey.
Delivering on a key commitment in the Women’s Health Strategy, the Women’s Reproductive Health Survey will seek women’s views across England on issues including periods, contraception, fertility, pregnancy and the menopause.
Findings from the survey will then be used to better understand women’s reproductive health experiences over time. The vital information gathered about the lives and experiences of women will inform current and future government decision-making and health policy.
There are currently disparities in women’s health across the country, and far too many cases where women’s voices are not being heard. Along with the strategy, the new survey will play a key part in changing this.
Minister for Women’s Health Strategy, Maria Caulfield said:
"Women and girls deserve the best healthcare at every stage of their lives, but we simply can’t deliver that without listening to their lived experiences and concerns.
"Women should always have a say in their own healthcare, whether that’s in managing pregnancy and fertility or dealing with the challenges of the menopause in the workplace.
"I would encourage every woman to complete the survey on reproductive health as soon as they’re able and ensure their voice is heard."
Women’s Health Ambassador, Professor Dame Lesley Regan:
"We need to make healthcare work for women and girls – and for it to fit around their lives. There’s no point bolstering services if they can’t be accessed, or the support available doesn’t work for them and meet their needs.
"That’s why we’re asking women and girls to share their experience, whether it’s about periods, menopause or endometriosis. We need your voice to shape a new system of healthcare that gives women what they need."
Dr Rebecca French, Associate Professor of Sexual and Reproductive Health Research at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said:
"For most women, it can be nearly 40 years from their first period to menopause. Throughout this time, women should be able to make informed decisions about their own reproductive health and wellbeing, such as if and when to get pregnant and where to access appropriate support and treatment.
"Women have previously described difficulties accessing reproductive health services, for example, to get contraceptive supplies, to access fertility treatment or to obtain an appointment with a gynaecologist. Often health services are not ‘joined up’, leading to multiple visits and appointment delays.
"We know that poor reproductive health not only has a negative effect on health in general but can also impact women’s mental health, relationships and finances. Further research is needed to better understand inequalities across England so that women and people described as female at birth are able to make the choices they need for their own reproductive health and wellbeing.
"The Women’s Reproductive Health Survey provides an opportunity to better understand what support is needed and how these issues can best be addressed."
The survey is open to all women in England aged 16-55 years and will run for six weeks from Thursday 7 September 2023.
It is being delivered by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care.
Questions women are being asked to answer include:
- how much pain they experience during their periods;
- how they prefer to access contraceptive services; and
- how satisfied they were with any support they received for menopausal symptoms.
Just over a year on from the launch of the Women’s Health Strategy, over 300,000 more women have accessed cheaper hormone replacement therapy, new women’s health hubs are opening across the country in every integrated care board and a dedicated women’s health area has been added to the NHS website.
Further measures being introduced include:
- A new artificial intelligence tool to identify early risks in maternity units
- £25 million will be distributed across England so every area can create a women’s health hub
- A new IVF tool on GOV.UK so people can look up information about NHS-funded IVF treatments
- A new network of women’s health champions led by the Women’s Health Ambassador for England, Professor Dame Lesley Regan
A Menopause Employment Champion has also been appointed – recruitment and employability expert Helen Tomlinson – to improve support for menopause in the workplace. Helen is working with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to create an online repository of menopause resources for employers, on GOV.UK. The Menopause Taskforce met in June to discuss menopause in the workplace.
The government has also awarded grant funding to charities across England to help employers make changes to their workplace to support women’s reproductive health, which includes menopause.