Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) will be made available to buy over the counter for the first time in the UK, without the need for a prescription.
High street chain Boots will offer a hormone replacement therapy over the counter for menopausal women over the age of 50.
This is everything you need to know.
Is Boots selling HRT without prescription?
Boots ahs confirmed that it is the first to sell a hormone replacement therapy over the counter, as well as selling online.
The high street chain will be offering Gina 10 microgram vaginal tablets for £29.99 for 24 tablets.
The drug, which was reclassified from a prescription-only medicine to a pharmacy medicine by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) earlier this year, treats one of the symptoms of menopause, vaginal atrophy.
This occurs when reduced oestrogen levels in the body lead to a thinning, drying and inflammation of the vaginal wall.
The medicine, manufactured by Novo Nordisk, treats the condition by replacing the reduced oestrogen.
It will be available for women aged 50 and over who have not had a period in at least a year.
Before purchasing the treatment, women will have a consultation with a pharmacist to ensure it is the right medicine for them.
Those buying online will have an online consultation.
Bina Mehta, a pharmacist at Boots, said: “Oestrogen levels decline after the menopause and can lead to changes in vaginal health that cause uncomfortable symptoms like vaginal dryness and itching.
“Unlike other menopause symptoms, these are usually chronic and progressive and will not resolve without treatment.
“Menopause is a natural process and everyone’s experience is different.
“I encourage those who are going through any stage of the menopause to come and speak to their local pharmacist for personalised advice and recommendations alongside guidance, where appropriate, on how to optimise HRT treatments – we are here to help.”
Boots is launching the product on Thursday and rolling it out to all stores by the end of October.
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
- feeling sick
- 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.