Gransnet forums


HRT shortage

(88 Posts)
LaraGransnet (GNHQ) Tue 12-Nov-19 15:01:32

We've been keeping an eye on this story, not least because we know it affects some gransnetters. It doesn't look as though the situation is improving though and we wanted to find out if any of you who are using HRT are finding it difficult to get hold of? Or how would you feel if you did find yourself in this situation? It appears that so many women are finding their health and wellbeing compromised with no real answers forthcoming from the government or healthcare providers as to when this is likely to change. We'd love to hear your stories.

Hotmama Tue 19-Nov-19 12:41:14

Razzy, pleased you are doing ok with the patches. I emailed the online Independent Pharmacy to see if I could get an update on the supply of Estradot patches and I received a reply yesterday.
‘I’m sorry to say the treatment you are enquiring about is currently out of stock with all the pharmaceutical wholesalers in the UK and we currently do not have a date when it will be available from the manufacturer’.
And so it goes on!

Razzy Sun 17-Nov-19 19:26:15

I thought I would avoid HRT. I was never particularly hormonal. I have to have a medical every year for work, and one year she gave me some info on HRT and suggested that I might look into it. As I did some research I realised that I had been suffering symptoms for quite a while. I thought I was going mad. Maybe it was having a young child still. I was anxious, not much in the way of hot flushes, memory was poor but the anxiety and stress was causing real problems. It got to the point where I would have had to give up my career just to deal with the symptoms I was experiencing. Menopause is not an illness but then neither is pregnancy. Giving birth is not an illness but hordes of women take drugs for it! I didn't have any drugs or gas and air for giving birth, I never really take any medicine, but I felt it was worth trying HRT.
If I was "just" on my own pottering about at home I would be able to cope with the symptoms, but to continue in a high level professional job which is known for high stress, would have been impossible.
As for supply, the first time I tried to get a repeat prescription I couldn't. This was a big thing for me because I have to have 2 weeks off work for any new drug/ medicine. My Dr suggested patches as they have lower risks, and I switched. I've not had any supply problems since, but no HRT would mean I could not work, so for me the benefits outweigh the risks.

janeainsworth Sat 16-Nov-19 09:43:38

hetty We're all tempted by 'magic pills' to help us cope (with lots of pressure to cope) and doctors are very inclined to prescribe just to manage their patient load

Speak for yourself. Many people cope with life’s difficulties without resorting to a ‘magic pill’. And if someone does feel they need help in the form of anti-depressants or HRT, so what? Why should they live a life of misery because of a hormonal or serotonin imbalance?
And that’s an outrageous generalisation about doctors. Clinical decision-making is between a doctor and their patient and who are you to say many doctors prescribe inappropriately?

Hetty58 Sat 16-Nov-19 09:07:47

janeainsworth, I believe that is true. Of course, women will go to the doctor when they feel awful. They know others who take HRT and swear by it. We're all tempted by 'magic pills' to help us cope (with lots of pressure to cope) and doctors are very inclined to prescribe just to manage their patient load.

The natural menopause, without HRT, involves periods of feeling absolutely rotten and other times when symptoms recede and we feel fine. There's no way anyone can tell, for sure, how much HRT helps them.

janeainsworth Fri 15-Nov-19 22:22:31

But jura you said “GPs and Consultants should prioritise those with genuine needs”

That implies that some women who are now being prescribed HRT don’t have genuine needs confused

jura2 Fri 15-Nov-19 21:18:53

no knocking it- just saying there are different degrees of severity- and that in case of shortage, medical staff will have to prioritise. As they will do with other medicines for other conditions- as they do with organ donation, etc. Very difficult job, of course.

ClareAB Fri 15-Nov-19 21:16:33

That depends how you define illness. Severe menopause symptoms can have a devastating effect on every day life and make it impossible to carry out normal daily activities. Don't knock it until you have been through it.

jura2 Fri 15-Nov-19 20:36:28

Not suggesting that at all. But there are different degrees of 'need'- some are more severe than others. For a large number of illnesses- not just hormone depletion.

janeainsworth Fri 15-Nov-19 20:31:31

Jura you seem to be suggesting that some doctors and consultants prescribe HRT inappropriately.
Why would they? In the NHS at least, what would they have to gain from prescribing HRT to a woman who didn’t really need it?

jura2 Fri 15-Nov-19 17:17:13

You are making the point well- that in case of real shortage, GPs and Consultants should prioritise those with genuine needs.

icanhandthemback Fri 15-Nov-19 13:45:12

Tooting29, they just had to put up with the menopause, just like the vast majority of women do today. After all, it's not an illness

As it's not an actual illness just get over it.


My consultant would not give me a hysterectomy without promising that I would take an oestrogen pill for as long as possible. It has revolutionised my life. I knew that PMT affected me but until I had the hysterectomy and HRT, I had no idea just how compromised my mental health was. When I am without oestrogen I suffer really badly from low self esteem, paranoia and massive eating problems. I also suffer from a lack of bone density which is exacerbated by a lack of oestrogen so whilst the menopause is not an illness per se, it can cause problems that I really don't need if I can avoid them.
I now feel in control of my life and will take HRT for as long as I am allowed to.

jura2 Fri 15-Nov-19 11:57:00

Sensible post Nanna. Lack of empathy to say 'tough luck' and of course it is very different for those who need HRT because of hysterectomy or cancer, etc - to those who want it to look better and feel younger...

But very sensible to say it can't be compared to life drugs which are essential for life threatening conditions, surely.

Nanna58 Fri 15-Nov-19 10:20:35

Evorel patches for me, and yes they are in very short supply. I can’t deny I’ll be unhappy without them, but am even more worried if this situation apply to people taking life dependent drugs. And , kircubbin2000 I’m guessing from your comments you were lucky enough to have a trouble free menopause, so just be very thankful and butt out!

pharmacistguide Thu 14-Nov-19 20:38:05

Hi all. I am a pharmacist. I work for 3 London CCGs supporting the GP practices in my area. There is clearly a mixed experience in the management of HRT shortage. In my role I have had to deal with a number of queries from GPs asking for HRT alternatives. A table of information detailing the shortages and alternatives was circulated about two months ago but the only updates we receive are on individual medicines so it’s up to us to keep on top of the information. The same information is circulated to all GP practices so I would hope that after a discussion on the HRT and risk of cancer is had and you still wish to continue, the alternatives are shown and a choice can be made. Not all GPs are clued up on HRT as there is a wide choice but there should be a team equivalent to mine to give them that support if needed.

TerriBull Thu 14-Nov-19 08:40:46

Good God "it's not an actual illness just get over it" yes like others I assume the writer has never suffered any of the debilitating effects associated with the menopause. Enough is written on the subject to know how extreme those side effects can be. Mine hasn't been great tried hrt but had to come off it. I still suffer from some of the down sides of the menopause, but thank my lucky stars that they aren't as bad as those some women are afflicted with, and which I don't doubt for one moment exist. Consider yourself really lucky if you float through it, there are a whole gamut of symptoms associated with the menopause from very mild to severe. I don't really think you have to live it to understand it to know that it isn't always possible just to get over a condition that affects your quality of life so adversely.

NfkDumpling Thu 14-Nov-19 08:17:48

I seem to remember jane the media jumping on a report several years ago about hormones getting into the water systems because of the numbers of women taking the pill. Worry about men becoming impotent? I think it applied most in areas like London where (allegedly) water is drunk seven times before it gets to the sea. (I’m probably well out of date on this!)

janeainsworth Thu 14-Nov-19 06:31:54

kircubbin and others who have made judgemental comments to those who take HRT - how do you define the difference between an ‘illness’ and a condition which results in life-changing symptoms?

Is osteo-arthritis an illness, a condition, or a normal part of the ageing process? Do you apply your pull-yourself-together logic to arthritis sufferers too? Should they suffer in silence or is it ok for them to take pain-killers and anti-inflammatories to manage their condition?
If not, why not?
If it is, what’s the difference between someone who has intolerable menopausal symptoms and someone who suffers from arthritis? Or perhaps a closer comparison, someone who is hypothyroid and takes synthetic thyroxine to manage their hypothyroidism?

Linkypinky the effect of people peeing these chemicals into the environment every single day is catastrophic for the environment
Could you post some evidence to back up that assertion please?

GagaJo Thu 14-Nov-19 06:24:32

None for me. I had a hysterectomy as prophylactic surgery (I had a risk of recurrence from BC) at 40 and for the first few months the effects of sudden, too early, menopause were brutal. BUT not undoable.

Don't want ANYTHING that increases my cancer risk again.

LinkyPinky Thu 14-Nov-19 05:41:15

I agree saying ‘get over it’ was a bit harsh, but I also feel that shortage of HRT is a bit of a first world problem, that we have become over-reliant on pharmaceuticals at the expense of other solutions and that the effect of people peeing these chemicals into the environment every single day is catastrophic for the environment.

Menopauselbitch Thu 14-Nov-19 01:07:22

Oh that’s alright then as long as it works for you who gives a fuck about the torture of the horse.

4allweknow Wed 13-Nov-19 23:57:14

Tried HRT fir horrendous menopausal symptoms. Lasted 9 months as I was racing about trying to keep up with myself. Goodness, when I think of it, I was mad to consider trying to stop a natural phase of life. Have heard supplies are difficult to get hold of but HRT isn't the only kind. DH takes hormones for prostate cancer and they are hard to come by. Prescriptions issued monthly for 28 days treatment. Last two months there has been problems so he has had breaks in the treatment and his hormone levels gave shot up. A bit more worrying than lack of HRT.

Dancing Wed 13-Nov-19 21:20:00

Please do t tell women to “just get over it, it’s not an illness”. I had a full hysterectomy at 49 and went straight into menopause. They put me on HRT and I was fine. After 17 years I was told it was no longer safe to stay on, and was taken off. I never had a full nights sleep for three years, the hot flushes drove me crazy. When I emigrated here to Australia 8 years ago I saw my doctor and he put me back onto HRT. I am currently on Climara 50, we have problems with supply here as well, but still able to get them. I am seventy five, and feel very well for my age, it isn’t an illness but you have to weigh up your quality of life. I feel the benefits out weigh the small risks.

agnurse Wed 13-Nov-19 19:46:59


Quite correct. Also, if anyone has had a hysterectomy specifically because of cervical cancer, you still should have a vaginal vault smear periodically to ensure that the cancer has not recurred. (If you do not have a cervix and the hysterectomy was not due to cervical cancer, check with your provider as to whether you should still be screened.)

Saggi Wed 13-Nov-19 19:06:29

Don’t use it.... never did due to two strokes.

MamaCaz Wed 13-Nov-19 18:50:26

As it's not an actual illness just get over it.

How would you cope if, within a short time of going through the menopause, your vagina shrank so much that intercourse was either excruciatingly painful -imagine feeling like your vagina is being cut with a knife - or totally impossible?
How would you feel if that same atrophy led to frequently recurring UTIs and/or thrush-type infections?

That is just the thin end of the wedge for many.

You are either lucky or ignorant or both!