Hormone replacement therapy shortage – six alternatives recommended by a doctor

Anthea Turner and Lorraine discuss hormone replacement therapy

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Women who are unable to get the HRT they need might be wondering how they could ease returning menopause symptoms. Thankfully, GP Doctor Sameer Sanghvi has six alternatives to try. “Tibolone produces similar effects to combined HRT, mimicking the effects of female sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone,” said Doctor Sanghvi. “Taken in the form of a single tablet, tibolone is best for women experiencing hot flushes and low moods.”

The prescribed medication, however, is only suitable for women whose periods stopped more than a year ago.

There are also risks associated with tibolone, which is why your doctor must first assess your health history before prescribing this medication.

Another possible option is clonidine, which is also primarily prescribed for women experiencing hot flushes and low mood.

Seen as less risky than tibolone, clonidine “doesn’t affect your hormones”.

Then there’s vaginal moisturisers and lubricants, for the many women who experience vaginal dryness.

“Vaginal moisturisers and lubricants, which are applied topically, can make everyday life, as well as sex, more comfortable,” said Doctor Sanghvi.

Aside from alternative medication or moisturisers, Doctor Sanghvi recommends positive lifestyle changes.

“Maintaining a healthy mind and body with exercise and healthy eating is hugely important during and after menopause,” he said.

Not only does a healthy lifestyle look after your mental health, it can help prevent weight gain, and could promote a better sleep.

“You might also find choosing looser clothing and investing in cooler bedlinen or a fan can keep hot flushes and night sweats at bay,” Doctor Sanghvi added.

And some women would benefit from avoiding spicy food and caffeine, as both can trigger hot flushes. “Staying away from these is also worth a try,” the GP noted.

What about herbal remedies?

“The problem with herbal remedies is that they can be difficult to take in the right doses,” Doctor Sanghvi cautioned.

“Plus, a lot of the claims surrounding them are unverified. You should always talk to a doctor before adding a herbal remedy into your healthcare routine.

“They can cause side effects and may react negatively to other treatments.”

Alternatives to HRT

  1. Tibolone
  2. Clonidine
  3. Vaginal moisturisers and lubricants
  4. A healthy lifestyle
  5. Looser clothing and cooler bedlinen
  6. Avoiding spicy food and caffeine.

Why is there a shortage of HRT products?

Dr Sanghvi said: “The shortage is down to a mixture of complications.”

He explained that HRT shortages can be attributed to the war in Ukraine, the pandemic, and supply chain issues.

Right now, word-of-mouth in the medical and pharmaceutical industry suggest that women who use gels and patches are experiencing the most difficulties with getting hold of their prescriptions.

HRT comes in many forms, including tablets, pessaries, implants, gels and patches.

Doctor Sameer Sanghvi works on behalf of Online Doctor.

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