Menopause: HRT shortage could have devastating impact on health of women warn experts
The Natural Beauty Show discuss menopause
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Menopause occurs when hormones, such as oestrogen, drop as a natural consequence of ageing. As levels wane, unpleasant symptoms strike roughly 80 percent of women. HRT, which works by replacing the dwindling hormones, can act as a buffer against pain, suicidal thoughts, and hot flushes. Diminishing stocks, however, could leave menopausal women unable to sleep or work, experts are warning.
UK ministers are set to appoint a tsar to tackle the shortage, which has led women to turn to the black market to source their drugs.
According to the NHS, HRT is prescribed to relieve symptoms of menopause by replacing hormones that are at lower levels as a woman approaches menopause.
The treatment is suppressing hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, vital dryness and reduced sex drive.
Dee Murray CEO and founder of Menopause Experts Group said: “The HRT shortage is causing stress and potential harm for women, with some, pushed to take matters into their own hands and loss for supplies online.
READ MORE: Menopause: ‘It is best to see your doctor’ if symptoms impact your quality of life
“This could have a devastating impact on their health, as HRT should only be prescribed by qualified healthcare practitioners who understand the patient’s history.
“However, the general dependency on HRT could also be having a negative impact on menopausal women.”
While many women benefit from the drug, it is not suitable for all.
Mr Murray continued: “Women who feel that they cannot function without their HRT prescription may also be experiencing increased anxiety and depression, and it’s important to recognise how diet and lifestyle play a high role in symptom management.”
Experts have set out to raise awareness of alternatives to HRT in a bid to deter women from bartering for the drug on the black market.
Specialist Pharmacy, for instance, regularly compounds identical HRT medications for women suffering from menopause or peri-menopause.
The private prescription route has the necessary resources, supplies and expertise that could potentially address the drug shortages and prevent an interruption in treatment for patients.
Rizvan Faruk Batha, Superintendent Pharmacist and Director of Operations at Specialist Pharmacy, says: “Due to the current shortages of licensed HRT medication, an alternative would be for patients to have these medicines compounded.
“Compounding pharmacies such as Specialist Pharmacy can step in to see the current shortfall by making these medicines on a patient’s specific basis, with our formulation experts working with prescribers to find a stumble alternative to the licences medications in either a transdermal, oral or vaginal formulation.
“The other alternative would be for the NHS to open up their formulary to allow prescribers to use our services, however, unfortunately, for now, we are only able to service patients with private prescriptions.”
How to survive menopause without HRT
Physical and mental challenges during menopause can drastically impact the quality of life of women.
While HRT has become the mainstay of menopause treatment, however, other effective measures can help alleviate symptoms.
There is evidence that hot flashes can be minimised by cutting back on alcohol and cigarettes, for example.
Exercise is another vital means to alleviate hot flashes, and in doing so can help prevent sleep disturbances.
Adhering to a diet high in fruits, vegetables, high-quality protein and dairy products can alleviate a wide spectrum of undesirable symptoms associated with menopause.
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