24% Women Suffer From Sexual Health Concerns, Only 6% Seek Help: Report
Elda's report titled ‘State of Menopausal Health in India', revealed that 98 per cent of women in their menopausal age largely only visit gynaecologists for heavy bleeding or vaginal discharge issues, while period-related symptoms such as hot flashes, sexual health concerns, and mental health issues often go unaddressed.
Elda Health India’s digital health start-up catering to women during their midlife menopausal and peri-menopausal years, on October 16, 2023, released a report titled ‘State of Menopausal Health in India.’
The report was based on a comprehensive study of over 25,000 Elda customers across India, the report sheds light on the pervasive stigma surrounding menopause in the country and the significant barriers preventing women from seeking help for their symptoms.
The study revealed that 98 per cent of women in their menopausal age largely only visit gynaecologists for heavy bleeding or vaginal discharge issues, while period-related symptoms such as hot flashes, sexual health concerns, and mental health issues often go unaddressed. Other symptoms that women face include fatigue, sadness, hair fall, weight gain, anger, anxiety, various types of body pains, insomnia, memory loss, and skin issues.
The report highlights that while 24 per cent of women suffer from sexual health concerns, only 6 per cent of women seek help for sexual health concerns. While 40 per cent experience hot flashes, a startling 70 per cent of women report mental health issues like mood swings, anger, and sadness. However, only 2 per cent of those suffering from mental health issues seek professional help.
The study also finds that Indian women typically experience menopause between the ages of 40 and 46, earlier compared to global counterparts who hit this phase at age 45-55 and above. This earlier onset emphasises the need for tailored menopausal care in India.
Speaking about the findings, Dr Ameya Kulkarni-Kanakiya, Co-Founder, Elda Health said, "Lack of initiative and motivation is a common cause of concern in following the otherwise common healthy lifestyle habits. This amplifies the need for external interventions and coaching to take control of one's health during menopause. It is crucial for women to understand that regular exercise, quality sleep, and a balanced diet can make their menopausal transition smoother and reduce the severity of symptoms. Neglecting these aspects can exacerbate symptoms that commonly manifest in one's 40s, such as hot flashes, period health issues, sleep problems, urinary issues, and mental health challenges."
The report also highlights the significant impact of dietary habits and lifestyle on the severity of menopausal symptoms. Women engaging in physical activity 3 to 4 times a week are significantly less likely to experience severe symptoms. For those who exercise often, symptoms like anxiety, tiredness, mood swings, and anger stand at 41 per cent, 37 per cent, 41 per cent, and 36 per cent, respectively. This is in comparison to those who never exercise the percentages for which stand at 59 per cent, 63 per cent, 59 per cent, and 64 per cent.
Adding further, Swathi Kulkarni, Co-Founder and CEO of Elda Health said, "Menopause is a natural stage in every woman's life, yet there is limited awareness about its causes, symptoms, and strategies to alleviate challenges. Elda Health is dedicated to bridging this information gap and providing expert care and advice for women navigating menopause. We have recently also expanded our services to include a range of specially curated products designed for women."
The report reveals significant insights about menopausal women's health in major Indian cities. It suggests that socially active women experience fewer menopausal symptoms and greater happiness.
Additionally, a family history of diabetes, blood pressure, or heart disease significantly contributes to metabolic issues during menopause. In major urban areas like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, and Kochi, nearly 50 per cent of women exhibit a high BMI, increasing their susceptibility to menopause-related health problems. Surprisingly, about 43 per cent of middle-aged women in these cities resort to meal skipping or late eating as a weight loss strategy, despite its adverse impact on their mental and physical well-being.
The report highlights a positive shift in Indian women's openness to Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), with 10 per cent willingly taking HRT when recommended. Furthermore, approximately 60 per cent of women make independent decisions about their medical expenses, irrespective of being working women or homemakers, underlining their financial autonomy.