egg meets…Dr Catherine Smith, GP and Founder of Edinburgh’s First Dedicated Contraception and Menopause Clinic.

egg meets…Dr Catherine Smith, GP and Founder of Edinburgh’s First Dedicated Contraception and Menopause Clinic.

a month agoPosted in Egg Partners

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egg Meets…Dr Catherine Smith, GP and Founder of Edinburgh’s First Dedicated Contraception and Menopause Clinic

Dr Catherine Smith is a partner at the West End Medical Practice in Edinburgh and has been a GP for 16 years.

Alongside her key role at a general medical practice consistently ranked in the top 5 across Edinburgh, Catherine has continued to develop her expertise and specialist training in women’s health – an interest which began soon after she entered the medical profession.

Her focus on women’s health began in her role at the former Dean Terrace Family Planning Clinic, where Catherine looked after women’s contraceptive and menopause needs. She has since completed advanced training in family planning, contraceptive insertions and, more recently, a menopause specialism qualification from the British Menopause Society (BMS). But, it was becoming a mother herself and reaching her mid-40s that made Catherine think, more than ever, about the specialist health support that women need at this crucial stage in life.

Here, she talks to egg about how her own lived experience of childbirth, parenthood and the issues that matter to her patients have strengthened her commitment to supporting women with their contraceptive and menopause needs.

What motivated you to set up a clinic that specialises in both the menopause and contraception?

From my experience in General Practice, changing contraceptive needs and menopause related symptoms are two areas that often come up when I’m speaking to women in their mid-30s to 50s. Whilst there is considerable support on offer to women around the challenges of starting a family, I think we sometimes get a raw deal when it comes to ongoing reproductive health and facing the menopause itself.

As a mother who experienced traumatic deliveries for each of my children, I think that there’s room for a more considered approach to post-natal health. Like many women in their 40s, I juggle a full-on job with looking after children and managing family life. I understand that it can be tricky and that, as women, we can feel that we’re doing neither job well. I want to be fit and healthy going into my middle age and am keen to help other women achieve the same thing.

Can you give us any examples of the kind of health concerns that you hear about most frequently in this area?

I have many conversations with women who, after completing their families, are keen to find a contraceptive option that takes into account a range of health concerns. These may include:

· Opting to have a coil inserted as part of hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

· Concerns around pelvic floor health.

· Identifying and managing menopause related symptoms.

· Vaginal dryness.

Why do you think it’s necessary to offer a specialist clinic for women’s health?

Following the recent COVID pandemic, I realised that not all NHS patients were able to access the same women’s health care that I’ve been delivering within my NHS practice. Many practices stopped providing contraceptive devices during the pandemic and have since been overwhelmed with demand - such that it can be extremely difficult to get a GP appointment, let alone one that is long enough to discuss all your concerns.

I believe that offering women a comfortable environment and more time to discuss issues around reproductive health with a GP presents a more holistic approach to their individual needs.

For example, I can offer a discussion that stretches across several topics that may not be explored in a gynaecological consultation or within a standard coil insertion or removal appointment. You can have a contraceptive device fitted within a non-intimidating environment and at time that is convenient to you without having the delay of an NHS waiting list.

Tell us about the services that are currently available to book with your clinic.

I work within current BMS and National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines to deliver patient centred menopause care and within the Faculty of Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) to provide contraceptive care.

We offer 40-minute appointments to all patients, starting at £295 where you will receive a full consultation regarding your specific requirements to determine your personalised plan. This may result in:

· Insertion of a Mirena for contraception or as part of HRT.

· An implant insertion.

· Initiation/continuation of HRT.

If you already know what you want or simply require removal or replacement of your contraceptive device, I am happy to do this for you.

Do you have any take-away words of support for fellow eggs considering female contraception options or issues around the menopause?

Whilst menopausal symptoms can be challenging to navigate, it’s important for women to understand that they are not alone. It is essential to seek support from healthcare professionals who can provide guidance and advice. It is also vital that you consider the risks and facts around any female contraceptive option before you make a decision in this respect.

Where are you based and how can we book?

We are set in the lovely Blackford area of Edinburgh within the Blackford Clinic where there is free parking and access to a bright, airy consultation room.

Bookings can be made via our website and remember we offer all eggs a 10% discount off our standard fitting price for all intra-uterine devices and all hormonal contraceptive implants.

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