“The HRT crisis proves that women’s health is not taken seriously and is a matter of life and death” – Rachael Bletchly

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Tens of thousands of people are devastated by the national HRT shortage and cling desperately to their dwindling supplies of Estrogel, some turning to the black market for help and, in the worst cases, some are suicidal, says Rachael Bletchly

Mariella Frostrup, Carolyn Harris MP, Penny Lancaster and Davina McCall, supporting the Menopause Private Member’s Bill, in Westminster

When I was 20, I went to the doctor because I had decided to take the pill.

I expected him to explain the risks and review the alternatives.

But not to wonder if I had a stable boyfriend and sniff: “The best contraceptive is the word NO.”

A decade later, when I had debilitating menstrual pain, a GP said, “That’s why they call it the curse, honey” and suggested a hot water bottle.

“And in my 40s, I was told gynecological issues were ‘just’ peri-menopause.

But a private specialist found out I had adenomyosis, so I had a hysterectomy and started taking HRT to keep me from going into menopause.

I have been putting estrogen patches on my butt for six years and it has transformed my life.

The consultant insists that I can stay on it forever.

Yet every time I had a medication review with a GP I had to explain why I was still ‘taking’ HRT – although the asthma and IBS medications were a no-brainer.

I’m made to feel like it’s a lifestyle choice, not a medical necessity.

A libido booster rather than a safety harness keeping me from rolling down a cliff in night sweats, brain fog, joint pain, vaginal dryness and depression.

I suspect that sentiment is shared by many women who are currently trying to avoid their own menopausal plunge.

Tens of thousands of people are devastated by the nationwide shortage of HRT and cling desperately to their dwindling supplies of Estrogel.

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Some bought themselves a temporary lifeline on the black market or begged and borrowed from friends.

But, tragically, many have already overstepped their bounds and now feel suicidal.

How the hell did it come to this?

In 2016, half of postmenopausal women were still too embarrassed to talk to their doctor and felt they just had to “bear” with the symptoms.

Yet, thanks to famous activists such as Mariella Frostrup, Davina McCall and Penny Lancaster, taboos have been broken and women have stopped suffering in silence.

And over the past five years, HRT prescriptions have fallen from 238,000 a year to 538,000.

So now WE are blamed for the shortage because ‘too many’ women want HRT.

Funny that Viagra supplies haven’t gone down too, isn’t it?

Or that pharmacists could still fill statin prescriptions that soared by 200,000 in just five months. In 2019, when my HRT patches were in short supply, Matt Hancock insisted the government would “always act to ensure there is an adequate supply of the medicines you need”.

But they didn’t. And three years later, the new health secretary had to appoint a czar to sort out the awful mess.

It MUST be a turning point.

The HRT crisis is clear proof that women’s health issues are still not taken seriously.

But ending it has now become a matter of life and death.

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