Menstrual Cycle Support aims to make periods better
The free online course available on social prescription or self-referral aims to close to the gender pain gap
At Menstrual Cycle Support, we believe in a world without suffering and works towards helping menstruators to discover menstrual joy. We strive for a thriving and gender equal society, and an innovative solution to close the gender pain gap that works.
We launched our free online Menstrual Cycle Support foundational course in January 2021 through just one primary care network in Cornwall (where our Founder and CEO lives). It was instantly oversubscribed, with requests from patients and GP surgeries from all over the country (and further afield!) requesting access. Within six months, we were able to make Menstrual Cycle Support available in every GP surgery in the county. We have since moved the course onto a platform that enables free-lifetime-access, on-demand with a supportive and facilitated online community. It is now available through social prescription and self-referral to people anywhere in the UK.
Our founder, Kate, was inspired to innovate menstrual healthcare through social prescribing following her own menstrual suffering. She knew first-hand that mainstream menstrual treatment options were limited to pills and procedures. Although she had experienced an overwhelming sense of menstrual loneliness and isolation throughout her life, she soon discovered that menstrual suffering is experienced by many:
- 80% of young people have reported problems with their periods (The Lancet)
- 1 in 3 menstruators in England have been diagnosed with menstrual dysfunction, compromising work, education, family or social life (Royal College of GPs)
- 8 out of 10 say they feel unwell during their menstrual cycle but continue to go to work or school and are less productive as a result (BMJ)
- 69% reported an increase in menstrual disorders during the last two years, thought to be caused by the stress of living through COVID-19 (Society of Endocrinology).
The Menstrual Cycle Support foundational course on social prescription aims to help menstruators understand, reframe and embrace their menstrual cycle or menopause experience. People learn tips and tools for making incremental changes to their lifestyle are supported to create a 3-month cycle diary. This information can help speed up diagnosis time (currently 8 years on average for endometriosis), reduce wasted GP appointments and long waiting lists for secondary care. The cycle diary is fantastic for recording side effects from menstrual-related medication, including hormonal contraception. The course is for anyone suffering with their menstrual cycle or perimenopause.
A growing movement
Menstrual Cycle Support offers the world’s first non-clinical menstrual health service available on social prescription. We were honoured to be presented with an Innovation Award at the International Social Prescribing Conference last year for our pioneering work in menstrual health and in the global menstrual movement.
We have an exciting partnership with NHS-approved data analytics organisation, Meaningful Measures, whose CEO, Dr Marie Polley, is one of the founders of the International Social Prescribing movement and is Co-Chair of the Social Prescribing Network. Meaningful Measures uses a robust research methodology called MyCaw and we are due to release our first report at an event in the Houses of Parliament in October 2022.
We believe in the power and potential of social prescribing and – as an organisation working with a taboo subject – we are so grateful to be able to plug into the network of supportive community members.
We have an exciting year lined up. We’re launching our new web platform, self-directed course and NHS-approved report. We are on a mission to be available in every GP surgery in the UK and to work with schools, universities and businesses nationwide to help ensure all menstruators have access to the Menstrual Cycle Support free online foundational course.
Kate Shepherd Cohen is the founder and CEO of Menstrual Cycle Support.
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