Intimate Health Expert reveals how a break from HRT can affect you and alternative methods to try
by Intimate Health Expert Stephanie Taylor at Kegel8
“The UK is currently facing an HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) shortage – a drug that replaces progesterone and oestrogen and helps relieve menopause symptoms such as hot flushes, low mood and anxiety.
“With over 2.5 million prescriptions made in England every year, this is undoubtedly affecting the masses – and there have been reports suggesting that women are risking their health by sharing products and even resorting to purchasing them off the black market out of desperation.
“And while the Health Secretary has announced plans to appoint a tsar to tackle the shortage and requests to change the way pharmacists deal with supply issues – those in need may have to wait until June for things to be ‘back on track’.
“But what does this break mean for your intimate health?
“Well, during menopause, you may experience symptoms such as incontinence or vaginal atrophy.
“Menopause can cause your pelvic floor muscles to weaken, meaning less support for your pelvic organs like your bladder, which can leave you with frequent, sudden urges to urinate, which is often followed by involuntary leakage of urine.
“Plus, vaginal dryness is very common during menopause, caused by a drop of oestrogen that halts the mucus production in the vagina. This dryness can not only put you at a higher risk of developing a urinary tract infection, but it can also make sexual intercourse unpleasant and sometimes painful.
“HRT is usually prescribed in the form of gel, vaginal rings or tablets, which are inserted into the vagina using an applicator and work by gradually releasing hormones into the vaginal tissue. This helps to treat incontinence and vaginal atrophy by restoring the integrity of the vaginal wall, relieving symptoms of dryness, soreness, itching, burning and painful intercourse.
“HRT patches are also prescribed for a less intrusive approach, containing a fixed dosage of hormones absorbed into your bloodstream once stuck to your skin.
“The shortages publicised that are said to be affecting customers most are Oestrogel and a few other products such as FemSeven Sequi patches.
“Without HRT for a period of time, vaginal issues are likely to return, which could prove painful and uncomfortable for the sufferer and have a subsequent impact on their everyday lives and mental health.
“So, what are some alternative methods to help women ease symptoms amid the shortage?
“For vaginal dryness and discomfort, vaginal moisturisers and lubricants can help ease these symptoms. Vitamin D has also been found to be effective in combatting vaginal dryness during the menopause.
“Keeping your pelvic floor muscles strong during menopause is also important, as it helps to increase the blood flow to your vagina and improve natural lubrication and sensitivity. Pelvic floor exercises should be a key part of your daily exercise regime – and an electronic pelvic floor toner can help you locate and strengthen this often-neglected muscle group easily.
“And if you’re suffering, remember you aren’t alone. Reach out to friends and family also impacted by the issue, or speak to your doctor for advice.”