WOMEN who don’t have access to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) could be plagued by infections, an expert has warned.
More than a million women in the UK are taking the drugs and a national shortage means many are being forced to go without.
Menopausal women often suffer from symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, vaginal dryness and night sweats.
HRT is prescribed to relieve these symptoms – but prescriptions are twice as common today as they were five years ago.
The cost of HRT was cut by millions in October following the success of The Sun’s Menopause Matters campaign.
But a new shortage has meant many women have been forced to turn to the black market to access the pills, while others have been forced to pay well in excess of the odds.
An expert has now warned that those who miss it could suffer from urinary tract infections (UTIs) due to the ongoing problems.
Estrogel is one of the most important drugs that women have a hard time getting hold of, and it is often prescribed in the form of a gel patch.
The drug replaces estrogen, which helps tame symptoms and other conditions.
Crucially, it protects the tissues from bacteria present in the urine.
dr Cat Anderson, a Staffordshire-based GP and clinician at the UTI Clinic in London, said she has seen a 10 per cent rise in these infections over the past month due to the shortage.
“And it’s not just women who have suffered from it before. In my GP practice, I see women who couldn’t get their HRT and now have a UTI, even though they’ve never had a problem before,” she told the Mail on Sunday.
These infections can make women even more uncomfortable and cause extreme burning when urinating.
But dr Anderson said UTIs aren’t the only side effect of HRT deficiency.
Estrogen also helps maintain joints, and without enough estrogen, conditions like arthritis can occur.
dr Anderson said she’s also seen female patients who had “really bad” flare-ups of arthritis.
Who can take HRT?
Hormone replacement therapy is widely used for those struggling with menopausal symptoms.
The NHS outlines those who may not be suitable for treatment. This contains:
- Patients with a history of breast, ovarian, or uterine cancer
- Patients with a history of blood clots
- Patients with uncontrolled high blood pressure – your blood pressure will need to be checked before you can start HRT
- Patients with liver disease
- Pregnant patients – it is still possible to become pregnant while taking HRT, so you should use birth control until two years after your last period if you are under 50 years of age, or for a year after the age of 50
In any case, you should talk to your GP or menopause specialist about whether HRT may work for you. There are so many possibilities that it is possible that something can be worked out.
She added that prior to the HRT deficiency, her condition was previously under control.
“Not to mention a whole host of other conditions like migraines and depression,” she said.
Last week, Health Secretary Sajid Javid held intensive talks with suppliers and pharmacists to deal with the crisis, while members of the government’s vaccine task force are transferred to HRT.
Following Davina McCall’s second Channel 4 documentary on the subject – Sex, Mind & Menopause, which aired last Monday – the Scottish Medicines Consortium is set to re-evaluate menopause drug Utrogestan, which it had previously rejected.
Davina had urged women not to continue amid the “unacceptable” shortage and said the problems were due to rising demand.
Sun columnist Dr. Zoe Williams helped answer all your questions about HRT like what to do when you’re running low.
It’s important to note that there are other treatments that help manage the symptoms of menopause, and your GP can help you access alternatives.
In severe cases, your GP may offer…
- Vaginal creams or lubricants for vaginal dryness
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which can help with anxiety
- Tibolone is another drug that is similar to combined HRT, but this only works in women who have had their last period for more than a year
- Clonidine is sometimes prescribed to reduce hot flashes and night sweats, although the benefits are limited
- Your GP may also advise you to make lifestyle changes — including getting regular exercise, eating healthily, and cutting back on coffee, alcohol, and smoking
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https://www.thesun.ie/health/8767896/warning-all-women-take-hrt-infections-soar-shortage/ Warning to all women using hormone replacement therapy as infections increase during deficiency