Exploring the alternatives to HRT
A few days ago, it was reported in the news that there’s an HRT shortage in the UK. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has said that approximately 1m women use HRT products in the UK, meaning many may feel anxious about the news.
HRT products (patches, creams, gels, tablets and pessaries) help women with menopausal symptoms – including hot flushes, night sweats, memory loss and sleep problems – by replacing certain hormones that rapidly decrease during menopause.
If you already take HRT, or are thinking about using an HRT product, you may feel worried about news of the shortage. While it’s unclear yet how much of an effect this will have, we explore some of the most effective alternatives to HRT.
What if the HRT product I use is not available?
If you already use an HRT product, it’s best to talk to the doctor who prescribes it. They will have access to your notes and your prescription history, and may know about the most recent updates regarding HRT availability. The British Menopause Society (BMS) has recently published information on the current HRT situation, alongside some useful information about product availability.
How do I find out about alternatives to HRT?
At our clinic, our team of gynaecologists have extensive knowledge of women’s health, including how to manage the various symptoms of menopause. They work alongside other practitioners such as nutritionists and endocrinologists to advise and, where necessary treat women through all significant life stages.
Women who have never opted for HRT as a way of managing menopausal symptoms – either because they favour alternative treatment, or because HRT is not suitable for them – have found their chosen path to be highly effective.
Can lifestyle changes be as effective as HRT?
Factors such as altered diet or a new exercise routine can have a huge impact on the symptoms of menopause, but finding the HRT alternatives that work best for you and your lifestyle may take some experimentation.
Nadia Brydon, nutritionist and herbalist at The Medical Chambers Kensington, works alongside our team of gynaecologists to help patients going through menopause with their symptoms.
“When a new client comes to see me about managing the menopause, I need to understand what’s happening for them. Even the most common symptoms will be experienced differently by every woman.
I encourage everyone to have a proper balanced, healthy diet where 50% of the food on their plate is vegetables.
The things that really trigger symptoms of menopause are alcohol, carbs and sugar. Carbs and sugar turn into alcohol in your body! And they interfere with our hormone cycle. For women who drink alcohol regularly, even a slight reduction in their intake can greatly reduce the impact of hot flushes.”
Are herbal remedies an effective alternative to HRT?
“There are some really good remedies that I prescribe as a medical herbalist. And there are some great products that you can buy over the counter. But first off I would recommend that a woman sees a practitioner, before choosing which herbs or supplements to take. There are so many on the market, and I do a lot of research around which are the most effective - the ones that really work,” says Nadia Brydon.
What are the most commonly prescribed HRT alternatives?
While this medication is not as strong as HRT, and does not affect hormones, it is sometimes effective in improving the most common symptoms of menopause such as hot flushes and night sweats.
Tibolone works by replicating the work of the female sex hormones (oestrogen and progesterone). It also helps to balance out the decline in oestrogen during menopause, thus easing some women’s symptoms such as night sweats and hot flushes.
Certain types of antidepressant can help with common symptoms of menopause. Studies show that low doses of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) may help with hot flushes and night sweats.
Who can I talk to about HRT alternatives?
Your GP may be able to give you the guidance and advice you need. For a more tailored approach, you may wish to seek the advice of a women’s healthcare specialist. The team at the Medical Chambers Kensington includes gynaecologists and nutritionists, who are on hand to offer you advice about all areas of managing the symptoms of menopause. And because they work together, they can provide you with continuity of care, whatever your needs.
Advice on the alternatives to hormone replacement therapy
If you’d like to learn more, or visit our London clinic to see a gynaecologist or nutritionist, please call 020 7244 4200 or make an appointment online.