The Menopause Exchange Blog

MENOPAUSE RELIEF THROUGH YOUR PHARMACY

Community pharmacists are a vital part of the healthcare team. During the pandemic, their role has become more prominent, as GPs haven’t always been able to offer face-to-face appointments.

This article was included in issue 88 (spring 2021) of The Menopause Exchange newsletter.

Fortunately, pharmacists are ideally placed to give advice on many symptoms, including those associated with the menopause, and you don’t even need an appointment to see one. If you want privacy, ask to speak to the pharmacist in their consultation room.

Here are some menopausal symptoms that your local pharmacist may be able to advise on. Pharmacies may sometimes be able to offer you a cheaper non-branded alternative to one of the brands mentioned here.

Hot flushes and night sweats
Helpful pharmacy remedies include plant oestrogens or phytoestrogens, black cohosh (e.g. MenoHerb Black Cohosh Menopause Relief), sage (e.g. A. Vogel Menopause Sage) and red clover (e.g. Promensil). Some of these are also found in general menopause supplements (e.g. HealthAid menovital, Vitabiotics Menopace, Vitabiotics Menopace Night).

Sleep problems
Over-the-counter sleep remedies should only be used in the short-term. They may make you drowsy and affect your concentration the next morning. Some contain sedating anti-histamines (e.g. Nytol, Sleepeaze) and others contain calming herbs (e.g. Kalms Night, Nytol Herbal, Sleepeaze HerbalPlus, Sominex Herbal). You could try Bach Rescue Remedy Night or aromatherapy products (e.g. Puressentiel, Tisserand), containing relaxing essential oils. Some pharmacies stock calming herbal teas, such as Twinings and Pukka. You can also buy anti-snoring products, such as nasal strips, throat sprays, nasal sprays and devices that fit in your mouth.

Mood swings
If you’re feeling very low, stressed or anxious, it’s important to speak to your GP or find a local counsellor. But if your symptoms are only mild, you could try pharmacy products, such as Bach Rescue Remedy, Kalms Day (for stress), Kalms Lavender (for mild anxiety), Kira Low Mood Relief St John’s Wort or MenoMood (containing St John’s Wort and black cohosh).

Hair thinning or hair loss
For thinning hair, ask your pharmacist about suitable hair growth supplements (e.g. Nourkrin, Vitabiotics Hairfollic, Vitabiotics Perfectil Haircrush, Viviscal) or thickening shampoos and conditioners (e.g. Plantur 39 Caffeine Shampoo, Hairburst, Klorane, Nanogen, Nourkrin). For hair loss, try Regaine for Women (minodixil) scalp solution or scalp foam, which are available in two strengths. You can also buy hair thickening fibres (e.g. Nanogen, Toppik), which bind with your own hair to make it look thicker.

Dry skin
A lack of oestrogen can make your skin dry, as it reduces collagen and oil content. Use a rich moisturiser after a bath or shower while your skin is still damp, then reapply it several times during the day. If your skin is itchy, colloid oatmeal products (e.g. Aveeno) or E45 Itch Relief Cream may help. For dry skin on your face and neck, there are lots of different skin brands, so speak to the pharmacist about the best ones for your skin type and to suit your budget. It often takes trial and error to find the right one for you.

Dry eyes
If your eyes feel dry, you can use soothing eye drops and ointments, or artificial tears, but discuss this with your optician or pharmacist. You can also buy eye mists, such as Optrex Actimist, to spray over closed lids, if you prefer, or warming or cooling eye masks.

Bladder weakness
Many women have ‘oops’ moments, leaking some urine when they laugh, sneeze, cough or exercise. Pelvic floor exercises may help in the long-term. Some pharmacies stock pelvic floor training devices to make the exercises easier. You can also buy various discreet pads, pants and liners (e.g. Tena, Depend, Always) to cope with any leaks. Don’t use sanitary pads or liners as these won’t be absorbent enough or disguise odour.

Thrush & cystitis
Vagisil Medicated Crème may soothe vaginal itching, burning or irritation. Use antifungal creams and pessaries (e.g. Canesten) for thrush, with or without a single dose fluconazole dose capsule. If you have signs of a urine infection (e.g. a burning pain on weeing), try drinking plenty of fluids before speaking to a GP. Sodium citrate or potassium citrate sachets (e.g. CanesOasis Cystitis Relief, Cystopurin) may make your urine less acidic, stopping the burning. Some women find that taking D-Mannose or cranberry supplements prevent regular infections.

Quitting smoking
Smoking can trigger an earlier menopause, and may make hot flushes worse. Giving up smoking is good for your overall health too. Speak to your pharmacist about nicotine replacement products and ecigarettes. Many pharmacies offer a free NHS Stop Smoking service, including one-to-one behavioural support with a trained stop smoking advisor.

Pharmacy advice
If you seek advice from a pharmacist, it’s important to tell them if you have any underlying medical conditions and/or take any other medicines (prescribed or over-the-counter), complementary remedies or supplements. With all products, it’s important not to use more than the recommended dose. Remember that plant based or natural remedies can still cause side effects.

About the author
Victoria Goldman MSc. is a freelance health journalist and editor. She has a Biomedical Science BSc. and an MSc. In Science Communication. She is Freelance Health Editor for Bupa and copy-edits and proofreads fiction and non-fiction.

Created Spring 2021

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