Menopause Medication Shortages
Menopause is a term literally meaning ‘final menstrual period’ that is often used to describe the menopause transition. This transition usually lasts for around a year after the last menstrual period and the symptoms that can be experienced are caused by a reduced production of the naturally occurring hormones oestrogen and progesterone.
The primary treatment for menopause is Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). The aim of HRT is to reduce the symptoms caused by hormone reduction. Women with particularly troublesome symptoms, affecting daily life, can benefit from treatment. It is becoming more common in the UK for women to receive treatment for menopause, between 2017 and 2021 there was a 50% increase in prescriptions for HRT.
Pharmacies first started reporting shortages of HRT in May 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, availability has not improved. Drug manufacturers have put these shortages down to a spike in demand for HRT and they are unable to keep up; Although there are plans to increase manufacturing capabilities, this will not happen overnight.
What can you do?
HRT medicines are available in multiple different forms in order to suit a variety of patient needs, e.g. tablets, gels, patches and pessaries. Speak to your pharmacist about swapping preparations if you are struggling to get hold of your usual medicine.
If you are able to consider another form such as tablets or pessaries it may be in wider supply and obtainable from your pharmacy.
Certain women are prescribed gels and patches as this route bypasses the liver and therefore reduces the risk of certain side-effects. Speak to your doctor and clarify whether you are at particular risk of this before swapping preparations.
A large variety of herbal medicines have been known to be helpful for women experiencing symptoms of menopause, just make sure that you are not taking anything that interferes with your current treatment regime; Speak to your pharmacist about this.
Vitamin D and Calcium are recommended to be taken as you approach menopause and throughout. Women can lose up to 20% of their bone density in the 5 years following menopause, Vitamin D and Calcium help to maintain bone strength.
Speak to your Doctor or Pharmacist for information regarding HRT medicine and shortages.
This blog was writted by Charlotte Broadbent and approved by Conor McSorley (GPhC 2223070)