April 2022

HRT shortages

There is much despair about HRT shortages at the moment. This is such a shame however after many years we are at time when the benefits of HRT are being widely understood and hence the prescribing and use has increased so much over the last few years.

We know this is causing women much anxiety, despair and instability in life and this post hopes to set some facts as we know them today.

There was a shortage of patches for a few months before the pandemic so during and since the production of these has increased to fit demand. However, the shortage of Oestrogel has driven a switch to gel sachets, patches and spray and the stock of these is now running low in many areas.

This is not down to your surgery, GP, pharmacist or prescribing team. So please don’t be frustrated with them. It’s a wider production and planning issue with the drug companies and health bodies. Those that have a say are trying with NHS England to get the message back to them. The current stance is things should improve by June but this was said in March.

As a doctor that works in both NHS and private clinics, I can confirm that Oestrogel is out of stock on private prescriptions just as it is on NHS ones. Women must await stock arrival in the same way in both sectors. There are reports of women buying Oestrogel privately. Sadly, this black market approach is only going to make matters worse for all women in the long run and I would discourage it as it may well inflate the price further, lead to financial issues and also possible difficulty with future prescriptions.

If you are using Oestrogel – it is likely you will get less supply issued or in some cases none, so here are some tips that may help:

*consider alternatives:
2 squirts gel is same dose as 50mcg patch, 1mg gel sachet, 3 sprays
*some women can consider oral types of HRT although less ideal, these are still available
*think of what you’ve used before or had problems with so you can let prescriber know
*if you pay for prescriptions, get a prepayment card as you will pay more often for less
*speak to the pharmacist for advice
*if you change type, be prepared you may have bleeding or side effects and give it 3 months
*anxiety and frustration feeds more anxiety so try to practice either stress management techniques alongside such as exercise, mindfulness and talking
*medicinal waste is a problem and although we are not supposed to advocate sharing, this is happening and with unused HRT is much safer than purchasing unregulated HRT over the Internet or overseas

Our aim is to support women during their perimenopause and menopause journey. Now we are no longer afraid of HRT our challenge is how to continue to get it. It is the manufacturer, prescriber and users benefit to fix this as soon as possible.

Hayley Cockman

Hayley’s story

Emily Fisher

Emily’s story

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