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Survey launched to shape future of women’s reproductive healthcare in England

Women are being invited to share their experiences of periods, pregnancy and the menopause to shape the future of healthcare for females in England.

The Women’s Reproductive Health Survey will help the Government better understand reproductive health and ensure services meet their needs.

It forms part of the Women’s Health Strategy, which was launched in 2022.

The 10-year blueprint will aim to tackle disparities in women’s health and ensure services “listen to women’s voices”.

Women’s health ambassador Professor Dame Lesley Regan said: “We need to make healthcare work for women and girls – and for it to fit around their lives.

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“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.”

Questions included in the Women’s Reproductive Health Survey will centre on will centre on period pains, how women prefer to access contraceptive services and the levels of support received for menopausal symptoms.

It is open to women aged 16 to 55 in England and will run for six weeks from September 7.

Dr Rebecca French, an associate professor of sexual and reproductive health research at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said women should be able to “make informed decisions about their own reproductive health and wellbeing”.

“For most women, it can be nearly 40 years from their first period to menopause.

“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.”

MP portraits
Maria Caulfield urged women to answer the survey to ensure their ‘voices are heard’ (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA)

Maria Caulfield, the minister for the Women’s Health Strategy, added: “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.”

Other measures included in the Women’s Health Strategy are funding to set up women’s health hubs across England and a new online tool on gov.uk for people to access easily information about IVF in their local areas.