1. ITV Report

'I was worried I was going insane' - Menopausal women on the impact of HRT shortages

Maria has been taking hormone replacement therapy to treat symptoms of the menopause

A woman from Cardiff has spoken to ITV News about her fears of being without medication to treat symptoms of the menopause, following a nationwide shortage.

Maria Waldron has been taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT), a common treatment for women going through the menopause.

Over the last two years, there have been disruptions in the supply of the drug, causing difficulties for thousands of women in the UK.

Maria says she nearly had to leave work because of the mental health impacts of the menopause. Credit: ITV News

Maria said before being prescribed HRT, she was close to leaving her job because of the impact the menopause was having on her mental health.

I’d be in tears I’d have to go to the toilet and cry - I felt I couldn’t cope, I couldn’t remember things, my brain felt foggy. I felt very anxious - very incapable of doing things - and I was worried that I was actually going quite insane.

– Maria Waldron

When Maria’s doctor found that she was peri-menopausal, she was prescribed HRT and said she began to feel more like herself.

Of UK pharmacies are struggling to source HRT

But now, HRT is in short supply.

84% of UK pharmacies reported difficulties sourcing the drug last year, and women like Maria have been feeling the impact.

The pharmacy still hasn’t been able to give me an answer about my prescription or a reason for the shortage.

– Maria Waldron

What is HRT?

HRT usually contains oestrogen and progesterone. Credit: ITV News

HRT stands for Hormone Replacement Therapy and usually contains the hormones oestrogen and progesterone.

These are the hormones women lose when they go through the menopause.

They’re used to treat the symptoms of the menopause, which include joint pains, anxiety and palpitations.

It's not just about flushes - it's about emotional wellbeing, it's about levels of depression - all sorts of things that are affected by the change in hormone levels when you go through the menopause.

It's sometimes the difference between people being able to work and enjoy their lives and not.

– Dr David Blainey, GP
The symptoms of HRT range beyond hot flushes. Credit: ITV News

You can find a full list of menopause symptoms on the NHS website.

Why is there a shortage?

It’s not clear why there is a shortage of HRT at present. The Welsh Government says they are aware of the shortage and are trying to fix the problem.

We are aware of the current disruption to the supply of some medicines including oral contraceptives and HRT, and we are working with the UK Government and manufacturers to resolve identified issues as swiftly as possible.

In the meantime guidance has been issued to the NHS and GPs.

– Welsh Government spokesperson

Are you worried about HRT?

The Welsh Government has advised people who are unable to get their usual supply of HRT to contact their GP for advice on alternatives.

More information about HRT is availableon the NHS website.