WOMEN who need medication to stop the symptoms of menopause are struggling to access the treatment they need, a minister has admitted.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is offered to women to help with hot flushes, mood swings, vaginal dryness and night sweats.
Health minister Marie Caulfield has now said that women face a postcode lottery with the treatment.
The MP highlighted that some GPs don’t even know they are able to prescribe the medication.
UK Times’s Fabulous Menopause Matters campaign was launched in October 2021 to empower women to demand the healthy menopause they deserve, calling for free HRT for everyone.
The Department of Health announced that women would be able to get a year’s worth of the drug for the cost of one prescription – £9.35.
But many women will need two types of hormones, so will have to pay £18.70.
There are two types, systemic hormone therapy and low-dose vaginal products.
Ms Caulfield told MPs in the House of Commons that plans to cut the cost of HRT would not come into effect until April next year, the Daily Mail reported.
She said that patients in different parts of the country receive a ‘very different service.
The MP highlighted that technical issues will mean that the prepayment certificate cannot be implemented until 2023.
MP Carolyn Harris, who introduced the initial bill to get HRT for free said she was ‘annoyed by the delay’.
She explained that many women who suffer severe symptoms cannot afford the prescription at the current cost.
Over 1.5 million women a year are said to experience post-menopausal symptoms with 150,000 of these being prescribed HRT.
If you think you need to receive HRT then you should get in touch with your doctor.
What is HRT and what are the side effects you need to know
By Mamie Serah Mboob
Hormone replacement therapy is medication given to women going through menopause symptoms.
HRT is a substitute for the oestrogen hormone that the female body stops making once they start menopause.
Who can have HRT?
Women going through menopause or having symptoms of menopause. Symptoms of menopause can be:
· Hot flushes
· Prevention of bone loss and fractures
· Vaginal symptoms (itchy, dry, burning and discomfort with intercourse)
The side effects associated with HRT depend on what type of therapy you are having, the dose of medication you are on, your medical history and how long you have been taking the medication for. Some of these side effects are:
· Blood clots
· Breast cancer
· Heart problems
· Vaginal spotting
· Stomach pain
· Sensitive breast
Most practices have at least one GP with extra qualifications or an interest in these areas.
It’s worth keeping a diary of your symptoms for a while so that you can take them to your GP and give a clear explanation of when they occur, and how this affects your life.
After discussing your symptoms, the doctor will then explain the different types of hormone replacement therapy available to you.
If you meet the criteria of patients who can have HRT, your GP will then start you off on a low dose of the hormones.
Patients are typically urged to try the treatment for three months to see whether or not it works.
Often, your progress will be monitored in follow-up appointments to check that there aren’t any concerning side-effects.
Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion from another GP if you don’t feel listened to.
However, be wary that you may go into the doctors expecting to be given a HRT prescription, but be told it is not suitable for you based on your medical history or otherwise.
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