What are the key areas of England’s women’s health strategy?

Nearly 100,000 women flagged up issues ranging from menstrual health to menopause in consultation

The women’s health strategy for England has been published by the Department of Health and Social Care after nearly 100,000 women came forward to share their experiences.

The 127-page strategy will focus on seven key areas, which relate to conditions or aspects of health where the public consultation highlighted particular issues.

Menstrual health and gynaecology

Ministers will update the “service specification” for severe endometriosis this year to better define the standards of care that women can expect on the NHS. This will ensure specialist services have access to the most up-to-date evidence and advice, and will improve standards of care for women with severe endometriosis.

In the consultation, menstrual health was the most popular topic for respondents aged 16-17 when asked what they would include in the strategy, while gynaecological conditions were the leading choice of those aged 18-29. Women have been promised more discussions around pain relief before undergoing some procedures, such as fitting an intrauterine device, which can often be extremely painful.

Fertility, pregnancy, pregnancy loss and postnatal support

There will be a drive to end the “postcode lottery” in access to IVF treatment, where some NHS areas offer one cycle and others three, and there are barriers to treatment based on criteria such as whether a person has a child from a previous relationship. Barriers to IVF for female same-sex couples will also be removed.

Parents who lose a child before 24 weeks will be recognised with a pregnancy-loss certificate. This new voluntary initiative aims to provide comfort and validation, and an “important acknowledgment” of a life lost. Fertility, pregnancy, pregnancy loss and postnatal support were the primary concerns for women aged 30-39.


Ministers have appointed Madelaine McTernan, the director general of the Covid-19 vaccine taskforce, to improve the HRT supply chain. HRT access has improved since earlier this year but it remains a problem in some areas.

Under the strategy, boys and girls will be taught about women’s health, including the menopause, from an early age, with schools asked not to segregate them for relationships, sex and health education lessons.

Mental health and wellbeing

Women flagged that they would like access to mental health services to be improved and that they had struggled to access care and support during the pandemic. The strategy offers little new in this area, however, simply restating the government’s pledge to invest £2.3bn in mental health services in real terms by 2023-24.


A further £10m in funding will finance 25 new mobile breast-screening units, to be deployed in the areas with the greatest challenges of uptake and coverage.

The strategy says non-binary people with female reproductive organs should always receive screening invites so they can access cervical and breast cancer screening.

Health effects of violence against women and girls

Ministers will publish a definition of trauma-informed practice for use in the health sector and encourage this to be adopted in health settings, to help address barriers to accessing services that people affected by trauma such as domestic violence or psychological abuse can experience, ensuring they can access the care they need.

Healthy ageing and long-term conditions

Healthy ageing was the leading issue for women aged 60 and above, according to the consultation. A £3m national reconditioning programme will encourage older women to build up muscle strength and resume some of the activities they undertook before the pandemic.


Andrew Gregory Health editor

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Are there enough concrete commitments in the women’s health strategy to truly ‘reset the dial’?
Analysis: While elements of the strategy are thoughtful and will make a meaningful difference, others have either appeared out of the blue or slipped from view entirely

Hannah Devlin Science Correspondent

19, Jul, 2022 @11:01 PM

Article image
A strategy for women’s health in England: six areas of focus
From gynaecological conditions to healthy ageing, these are expected to be the priorities of the final plan

Andrew Gregory Health editor

23, Dec, 2021 @12:01 AM

Article image
New women’s health strategy to ‘reset the dial’
Among proposals to ‘reset the dial’ on women’s health are training for doctors and hubs across the NHS

Andrew Gregory Health editor

19, Jul, 2022 @11:01 PM

Article image
What can I do if I can’t get HRT?
British Menopause Society releases equivalence guide to help women during England’s drug shortage

Hannah Devlin Science correspondent

29, Apr, 2022 @3:54 PM

Article image
MPs call for menopause health checks at 45 and free HRT in England
All-party group report on menopause also calls for more workplace support and training for health workers

Andrew Gregory and Linda Geddes

12, Oct, 2022 @5:00 AM

Article image
Dismissal of women’s health problems as ‘benign’ leading to soaring NHS lists
Exclusive: Gender bias means debilitating gynaecological conditions are played down, says RCOG president

Hannah Devlin Science correspondent

02, Jun, 2022 @2:30 PM

Article image
Home menopause tests are waste of time and money, say doctors
Urine tests not predictive enough to tell whether a woman is going through the phase, experts warn

Jamie Grierson

10, Jun, 2022 @8:19 AM

Article image
Sharp rise in wait times for perinatal mental health care in England
Exclusive: New and expectant mothers left to ‘suffer in silence’ as demand outstrips supply

Peter Walker Deputy political editor

04, Sep, 2023 @5:00 AM

Article image
Menopause, endometriosis and more: four ways England is failing women
As ministers plan to publish the first women’s health strategy we look at where things are going wrong – and why

Hannah Devlin Science correspondent

02, Jun, 2022 @2:30 PM

Article image
‘The pain is inhumane’: how NHS gynaecology delays affect women’s health
Four women describe how UK waiting lists and attitudes to gynaecological symptoms have left them in agony

Amy Walker

02, Jun, 2022 @2:30 PM