Can you get HRT over the counter? Why Hormone Replacement Therapy could soon be offered without prescription

Hormone replacement therapy is used to help offset the symptoms of menopause

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) will reportedly be made available to buy over the counter for the first time, without the need for a prescription.

The decision will depend on the outcome of a consultation, but health watchdogs are expected to propose a reclassification of the medication, according to the Daily Telegraph.

The treatment could soon be available over the counter (Photo: Shutterstock)

It is not yet known at this point exactly which HRT product will be part of the proposal, but if approved it would allow women to access the treatment in a pharmacy without a prescription from a doctor.

Why could HRT be offered without a prescription?

The drug could soon be offered over the counter after the government recently made moves to increase the accessibility of the medication.

It was announced in October that the cost of repeat prescriptions for HRT would be significantly reduced in England.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We understand that for some women menopausesymptoms can have a significant impact on their quality of life, and we are committed to improving the care and support they receive.

“That’s why we’re developing the first ever government-led Women’s Health Strategy, informed by women’s lived experience.

Menopause, including improving access to Hormone Replacement Therapy, will be a priority under the Strategy.”

What is hormone replacement therapy?

HRT is a treatment that is used to help relieve symptoms of the menopause by replacing hormones that are at a lower level.

Taking the medication can help to offset the following common menopausal symptoms:

  • hot flushes
  • night sweats
  • mood swings
  • vaginal dryness
  • reduced sex drive

It can also help to prevent osteoporosis, a condition which causes bones to weaken, which is more common after the menopause.

The NHS says the benefits of taking HRT generally outweigh the risks, but women are advised to speak to their GP before taking it as some types of the medication can increase the risk of breast cancer.

Most women can have HRT if they are suffering with menopausal symptoms, but it may not be suitable for those who have a history of breast, ovarian or womb cancer, a history of blood clots, untreated high blood pressure, liver disease, or those who are pregnant.

Are there any side effects

HRT can cause some side effects, but these will usually pass within around three months of starting treatment.

The most common symptoms include:

  • breast tenderness
  • headaches
  • feeling sick
  • indigestion
  • abdominal (tummy) pain
  • vaginal bleeding

There are many different types of HRT so it is recommended that women seek advice from a GP to choose the medication that is right for them.

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