HRT being offered over-the-counter is nice… however it’s not a magic menopause repair

IT’S been hailed as a life-changing transfer for menopausal girls.

Vaginal oestrogen tablets are set to be made accessible over-the-counter for the primary time, providing hope for as much as 80 per cent of menopausal girls stricken by vaginal dryness.

HRT over the counter is great… but it's not a magic menopause fix


HRT over-the-counter is nice… however it’s not a magic menopause repairCredit score: Getty
Vaginal oestrogen tablets are set to be made available over the counter for the first time


Vaginal oestrogen tablets are set to be made accessible over-the-counter for the primary time

At the moment, most undergo in silence with simply eight per cent accessing remedy.
The results may be devastating, as Joanne Gunn, 54, from Brighton, is aware of all too nicely.

“Once I first began going via the menopause, the dearth of oestrogen meant the whole lot began drying up,” she says.

“I’ve received actually thick curly hair and it went dry and brittle. So did my nails. My pores and skin was actually falling off — it was unbelievable. And clearly down there as nicely, it was utterly dry. It makes intercourse actually painful.”

The stigma round such signs is slowly being demolished, with the assistance of celebrities like Davina McCall sharing their experiences.

In her documentary, Sex, Myths and The Menopause, she mentioned: “I had extreme dryness — so extreme, that after I tried to wipe myself after going to the john it felt sore, so I needed to dab.”

Till now, girls have solely been capable of get vaginal oestrogen tablets — which ease dryness — after seeing their GP or a specialist.

However the Medicines and Healthcare merchandise Regulatory Company (MHRA) has launched a public session on plans to make Gina vaginal tablets that can be purchased in pharmacies.

It alerts a win for Fabulous’s Menopause Issues marketing campaign, and Carolyn Harris, Labour MP and co-chair of the brand new UK Menopause Taskforce, says the transfer can be be “glorious” for a lot of girls.

Campaigners on the forefront of the worldwide “menopause revolution” inform Fab Every day that making hormone therapies extra broadly accessible will undoubtedly remodel lives.

However, they stress, it’s not the identical as hormone substitute remedy (HRT) — the gold-standard in menopause remedy.

Main menopause specialist Dr Louise Newson agrees the session “is a transfer in the proper course” however says it’s “necessary girls comprehend it’s not HRT”.

The excellence is a delicate however necessary one.

Whereas vaginal oestrogen can ease vaginal dryness and urinary signs, HRT is a systemic remedy, that means it “replaces hormones all through the physique,” Dr Newson explains.

It’s the substitute of those hormones, which naturally begin to fall in perimenopause and menopause, that may assist ease the 34 official signs, together with sizzling flushes, mind fog and a vanishing libido.

“Vaginal dryness happens as a result of the tissues within the vagina and bladder skinny, so this topical over-the-counter remedy — if it turns into accessible subsequent yr — will assist with one of many painful and tough signs of menopause,” says Dr Newson.

Anybody who has suffered with vaginal dryness will comprehend it’s an agonising actuality that may have profound knock-on results.

TV host Saira Khan informed Fabulous it affected her marriage: “I suffered a lack of libido, as a result of I felt dry and horrible down under. I’ve suffered from psoriasis since start and the menopause sparked sore, nappy rash-like pores and skin round my privates.”

Whereas the vaginal dryness Trisha Goddard experienced “brought about soreness and chafing after I ran lengthy distances”, she informed Fabulous, however was lucky to find “non-hormonal, moisturising pessaries, which had been a revelation”.

The hope of higher entry to vaginal oestrogen appeals to Helen, 46, who says it has “modified the whole lot” within the final 12 months.


“Vaginal dryness was one of many main signs of menopause for me. I divorced the daddy of my 4 youngsters in 2018 and met a brand new companion final yr.

Once I turned sexually lively once more, it abruptly turned an enormous difficulty. Not solely that however it was sore and itchy rather a lot — not nice if you’re in a gathering at work surrounded by males.

“I had a few UTIs too which I’ve by no means suffered from earlier than and observed I used to be beginning to leak from my bladder at sure occasions of the day.”

Helen noticed her GP who recommended attempting vaginal oestrogen, and a yr on, she says: “I can’t imagine I put up with the signs for thus lengthy with out getting assist.

“I get it on prescription however it’d be sensible if it was that can be purchased over-the-counter.

“Life is busy — I’ve received a full-time job and 4 youngsters, I don’t all the time keep in mind to get my request in for a repeat prescription, so the very fact I would be capable to purchase it after I’m doing the weekly store from the grocery store pharmacy could be a giant bonus.”

Mum-of-three Joanne’s intercourse life took an actual hit when she started experiencing vaginal dryness. She tried all types of remedies, together with patches, however for a yr her signs had been “simply getting worse and worse”.

“My companion and I must use lubrication to have intercourse,” she remembers.

Thankfully she was prescribed Oestrogel HRT by her physician — a gel that Joanne applies to her thighs.

“It was like a miracle!” she says. “You needed to give it a month or so to kick in and get into your system, however down there was again to regular once more.

“Earlier than I used to be on it, the ache was horrible. You simply couldn’t take pleasure in your self. I stored considering earlier than intercourse, ‘Oh, I don’t need to do it!’ It’s like if you’ve received a good pair of denims on and also you assume, ‘Arghh’. It’s not snug in any respect.”

Dr Philippa Kaye, a GP and creator of The M Phrase: All the pieces You Want To Know About The Menopause, says the transfer could possibly be a recreation changer for plenty of girls.

“And by recreation changer, I imply life changer,” she says. “It’s not straightforward for some individuals to go to the physician. It may be tough to elucidate what’s occurring, and it is likely to be simpler, for some to get this stuff from a pharmacist.”

Dr Kaye’s sufferers report vulval and vaginal irritation, soreness, itching and painful intercourse. “I’ve some sufferers who say that even sitting down is uncomfortable, they’re continuously jiggling, and it could possibly result in recurrent urinary tract infections, which makes you are feeling not nicely.”


Undoubtedly vaginal oestrogen will help with a lot of these issues.

“Which means girls probably get their intercourse lives again, it means they’re not incapacitated by having recurrent UTIs, and that may make a really massive distinction to girls,” says Dr Kaye,

“However I inform sufferers that, technically vaginal oestrogen is a type of hormone substitute, however don’t lump it in along with all the opposite sorts of HRT, as a result of it’s solely appearing regionally.”

GP Dr Rachel Ward says the proposed plans may “make an enormous distinction”, however agrees we “must preserve it in perspective” and never overlook that vaginal oestrogen “isn’t the identical as HRT within the type of tablets and gel patches which might be absorbed into the physique and deal with a number of different signs — temper dysfunction, sizzling flushes, tiredness.

This isn’t what that’s for, so though this is a vital a part of menopause remedy, it’s not going to deal with all signs. We wouldn’t need it to place girls off searching for medical recommendation about different signs.”

Dr Newson says there are different components to take note of too.

“It’s nice to have the benefit of popping to the chemist to purchase vaginal oestrogen, however the restrictions connected to purchasing it don’t all make scientific sense.

“For instance, it’s girls over 50 who haven’t had a interval for a yr who will be capable to purchase it if it turns into accessible, however two of the caveats are they’ll’t have had adjustments to the texture of the vulva (a typical symptom of vaginal dryness) or had blood clots up to now.

“However there’s no scientific sense on this, so one in every of my issues is that it received’t be meted out precisely by the chemists and pharmacies who’re being given the duty. The worth level, if it stays the identical, will make it simpler on quite a lot of girls although.

“In the mean time, it’s recommended it’ll value £2.50 per week, after an preliminary outlay of £29.99, which can make it cheaper than present prescriptions. However accessibility is essentially the most constructive half.”


One factor the specialists agree on is the truth that it’s critical girls nonetheless have appointments with their GP to debate HRT.

In any case, Dr Ward says there may be nonetheless “a major quantity of counselling that must be achieved, about danger and advantages”, in addition to affected person monitoring, which will depend on signs and medical historical past.

What’s extra, Carolyn Harris, MP for Swansea East, provides that she is going to battle “tooth and nail” to cease HRT changing into an over-the-counter product, warning that it could “cease some girls from accessing it”.

It then turns into one thing solely those that can afford it is going to be capable of purchase,” she tells Fab Every day. We want it to be as low-cost as doable for each girl in order that no girl is unable to entry the rebalancing instruments they want to have the ability to get on with their life as usually as doable.”

With reference to the session, she provides: “I wouldn’t need individuals to be below any phantasm that this was the cure-all for the menopause, as a result of that is one kind of HRT.”

Dr Newson says that over-the-counter vaginal oestrogen is de facto a part of a a lot greater dialog about bettering menopause care and remedy.

“At the moment, many ladies are denied hormones they vitally want in menopause, actually because entry is tough.

“Males can go right into a chemist and purchase Viagra for erectile dysfunction with out understanding whether or not they have diabetes or hypertension — two circumstances that may be affected by taking Viagra. But girls have to leap via too many hoops so as to entry hormones and HRT.

“We have to make it simpler for ladies.

“The topical vaginal hormone remedy in session proper now’s a welcome step however it’s most positively not HRT.

“Extra must be achieved for ladies in menopause – and it must be achieved now.”

Joanne Gunn said:'When I first started going through the menopause, the lack of oestrogen meant everything started drying up'


Joanne Gunn mentioned: ‘Once I first began going via the menopause, the dearth of oestrogen meant the whole lot began drying up’Credit score: Gemma Day
The stigma around such symptoms is slowly being demolished, with the help of celebrities like Davina McCall


The stigma round such signs is slowly being demolished, with the assistance of celebrities like Davina McCallCredit score: Getty
Saira Khan told Fabulous:'I suffered a loss of libido, because I felt dry and horrible down below'


Saira Khan informed Fabulous: ‘I suffered a lack of libido, as a result of I felt dry and horrible down under’Credit score: Splash
Trisha Goddard told Fabulous she was fortunate to discover'non-hormonal, moisturising pessaries, which were a revelation'


Trisha Goddard informed Fabulous she was lucky to find ‘non-hormonal, moisturising pessaries, which had been a revelation’Credit score: Phil Penman
Gina vaginal tablets being made available in pharmacies is a win for Fabulous’s Menopause Matters campaign


Gina vaginal tablets being made accessible in pharmacies is a win for Fabulous’s Menopause Issues marketing campaign

Fabulous Menopause Issues

An estimated one in 5 of the UK’s inhabitants are at the moment experiencing it.

But the menopause continues to be whispered in hush tones prefer it’s one thing to be embarrassed about. 

The stigma connected to the transition means girls have been struggling in silence for hundreds of years. 

The Solar are decided to vary that, launching the Fabulous Menopause Issues marketing campaign to provide the taboo a long-awaited kick, and get girls the help they want.

The marketing campaign has three goals:

  • To make HRT free in England
  • To get each office to have a menopause coverage to supply help
  • To bust taboos across the menopause

The marketing campaign has been backed by a number of influential figures together with Baroness Karren Brady CBE, celebrities Lisa Snowdon, Jane Moore, Michelle Heaton, Zoe Hardman, Saira Khan, Trisha Goddard, in addition to Dr Louise Newson, Carolyn Harris MP, Jess Phillips MP, Caroline Nokes MP and Rachel Maclean MP. 

Unique analysis commissioned by Fabulous, which surveyed 2,000 British girls aged 45-65 who’re going via or have been via the menopause, discovered that 49% of ladies suffered emotions of despair, whereas 7% felt suicidal whereas going via the menopause. 

50% of respondents mentioned there may be not sufficient help on the market for menopausal girls, which is solely not adequate. It’s time to vary that. being/8325232/hrt-menopause-over-the-counter/ HRT being offered over-the-counter is nice… however it’s not a magic menopause repair

Fry Electronics Team

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