What to do if you can’t obtain your usual estrogen gel?
There are continuing to be some problems with the availability of estrogen gel in the UK but these are likely to be short term and not last for a long time.
There are other preparations of estrogen available which may be worth trying while you wait for the supply problems to be resolved.
It is a frustrating time for many of you, after feeling the benefits of estrogen replacement only to discover you can’t now get hold of the gel that was helping so many of your symptoms. The biggest issue with supply appears to be with Oestrogel (estradiol), manufactured by Besins Healthcare UK.
It is important that you do not stop taking estrogen. There are usually other preparations to take as alternatives while there is this supply issue. Difficulties with availability of Oestrogel should not lead to you stopping HRT. Some healthcare professionals are incorrectly advising some women to stop as they have been taking HRT for several years or think that they will have few or no symptoms without it.
Remember, many of your perimenopausal or menopausal symptoms were caused by a lack of estrogen and without treatment you may see a return of symptoms including sleep problems, migraines or headaches, joint stiffness and muscle aches, lowering of mood, increase in brain fog, dry or itchy skin, urinary tract infections or genital discomfort, as well as many others.
In addition to a possible return of symptoms, stopping estrogen will lose the protections estrogen replacement gives to your future health, such as lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, dementia, depression, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer.
It is worth persevering with different pharmacies, or trying an alternative body identical estrogen preparation. There is an alternative gel available, Sandrena.
Alternatives to gel are different types of estrogen patches, or the estrogen spray, Lenzetto. These also are absorbed directly through the skin into your bloodstream and are not associated with a risk of clot. Estrogen tablets are also available.
For a table showing the different preparations of estrogen and equivalent doses, please view the image below. You could take this to your healthcare professional to help show the options available.
Other types of hormonal menopause treatments such as testosterone, vaginal estrogen and the micronised progesterone, Utrogestan, are currently all available.
With regard to the Oestrogel shortage, manufacturers Besins Healthcare UK had this to say on 31st March 2022: 22nd April 2022:
We regret the continuing situation regarding insufficient supplies of Oestrogel into the UK which is caused by the increased demand for HRT in the UK. While we are receiving deliveries of this product on a regular basis, we acknowledge that the current supply is sometimes insufficient to meet the continuing extraordinary demand we are experiencing.
We have delivered significant volumes of Oestrogel into wholesalers recently, which is approaching double the amount we supplied in the same period January to April last year. With demand continuing to increase we are doing everything we can to manage, increase and expedite supplies to wholesalers and pharmacies across the country.
In addition to the increases described above, Besins Healthcare plans to further increase our production capabilities to enable us to supply even more of this product into the UK market in the longer term.
Besins are acutely aware of the impact this situation is having on patients and understand that they are worried about fulfilling their prescription. We advise patients who are concerned to discuss their needs with their doctor or pharmacist.
We are committed to communicating any significant changes of supply with patients, healthcare professionals and other stakeholders.
With regard to the Oestrogel shortage, manufacturers Besins Healthcare UK had this to say on 31st March 2022:
We regret this ongoing situation regarding insufficient supplies of Oestrogel into the UK. We continue to receive deliveries of Oestrogel, nevertheless we acknowledge that the current supply is insufficient to meet the extraordinary demand we are experiencing.
We are doing everything we can to manage, increase and expedite supplies to pharmacies across the country and are expecting significant volumes of Oestrogel during the forthcoming weeks. Further supplies will continue to arrive and will be released to wholesalers upon arrival for distribution across the country. Besins are acutely aware of the impact this situation is having on patients and understand that they may be worried about fulfilling their Oestrogel prescription. We are committed to communicating any significant changes of supply with patients, healthcare professionals and other stakeholders.