same as you: health issues in women with learning disabilities after the menopause
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same as you: health issues in women with learning disabilities after the menopause

Diane S Willis Cancer Nursing Research Fellow, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Care, Napier University, Edinburgh

Thanks to medical advances, the lives of women with learning disabilities are being extended. One consequence is that many more of them are experiencing the menopause. Diane Willis outlines the four key health issues facing postmenopausal women with learning disabilities and discusses how support structures could be improved

Rising life expectancy means that more people with learning disabilities are living into old age (Bittles et al 2002, Wilkinson and Janicki 2005). Although this is very welcome, age-related health problems such as dementia and cancer are inevitably associated with this trend (Tuffrey-Wijne 2003, Kirk et al 2006, Strydom et al 2007). A rising number of women will also experience the menopause. In the early stages of the menopause, also known as the ‘change’ or ‘change of life’, menstruation becomes irregular (Hillard 1998). The menopause is confirmed once menstruation has ceased for 12 months and when no pathological causes can be found (North American Menopause Society 2004). While much research has been conducted into the menopause in general, its impact on women with learning disabilities has received little attention.

Learning Disability Practice. 10, 9,16-22. doi: 10.7748/ldp2007.11.10.9.16.c6257

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