Warning hormonal replacement therapy shortages will lead to work absences

  • Video report by ITV Granada Reports Journalist Claire Hannah

Experts are warning the shortage of Hormone Replacement Therapy medication is going to lead to more women being absent from work.

Certain products are currently running low, which manufacturers and the government say is caused by a surge in demand coupled with supply problems of ingredients and delays caused by the pandemic.

The drugs are used to control symptoms of menopause, which can be severe and range from fatigue to insomnia and depression and anxiety, as well as a variety of physical symptoms.

They are not suitable for all women, but a growing number have now started using HRT to help with their symptoms.

Fiona McKay, from Greater Manchester, who founded the The Menopause Maze says some women are becoming so debilitated they are resorting to buying drugs online.

Fiona McKay had a total abdominal hysterectomy at 42 which put her straight into menopause Credit: Fiona McKay

"Some are having to share gel, which is a pump, so instead of taking three pumps, which you should be taking a day, they're only taking one pump each and sharing it with their family and friends. It's absolutely scandalous."

ITV has spoken to the Government about the HRT shortage. Maria Caulfield MP, Minister for Patient Safety and Primary Care said they have spoken to manufacturers who are increasing production and say most of supply issues 'should be resolved by June'.

Symptoms of the menopause include:

  • No periods for 12 months

  • Hot flushes

  • Night sweats

  • Mood swings and irritibality

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Cognitive changes (difficulty remembering names, words, directions, losing focus)

  • Anxiety

  • Vaginal dryness

  • Generalised itching...and more

The average age a woman starts the menopause is 51 - however symptoms commonly start affecting women from the age of 45.

During this time a woman is likely to be experiencing symptoms due to changing hormone levels.

For many, going through the menopause is a terrifying experience for which they don't feel well enough prepared.

Claire Benson wants more education about the menopause Credit: Claire Benson

Claire Benson from Manchester went through it at the age of 47. She said: "I actually thought I was losing my mind, my memory went, I couldn't remember simple names like a cup or a spoon.

"I said to my daughter can you get me... and I just couldn't remember.'

Claire wants to break the stigma and says education in schools and the workplace is key. Cost is also another issue.

Claire has to take three types of medication which means her current prescription is over £27 a month.

In March 2022 the Government announced a plan to enable women in England to pay a single annual prescription charge for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) will not be implemented until next year.

Prescriptions are currently free in Scotland and Wales.