The #menopauserevolution: Calls for hormone replacement therapy free of NHS charges

·2-min read
Photo credit: MP Carolyn Harris and Cult Beauty's Alexia Inge
Photo credit: MP Carolyn Harris and Cult Beauty's Alexia Inge

As public discussions around menopause have exploded in frequency the topic feels less shrouded in stigma. However, many women experiencing the menopausal transition feel starkly unsupported and lack access to symptom-easing treatment.

To galvanise change, Cult Beauty has teamed up with MP Carolyn Harris to lobby the government to make hormone replacement therapy (HRT) free of NHS charges in England, as it is in Scotland and Wales.

Today, Alexia Inge, the retailer’s co-founder and co-CEO, reveals a powerful open letter on behalf of women in England to the British government. It aims to rally support for the cross-party backed Menopause (Support and Services) Bill – spearheaded by Harris MP – that’s due to have its second reading in the House of Commons on 29 October 2021, in the hope to introduce free HRT for women going through menopause.

It also urges a change in workplace policy around menopause, by creating an industry standard for how women are treated as they negotiate different life stages.

“For some women, navigating this biological milestone is relatively smooth but for many, the loss of reproductive function is physically uncomfortable, exhausting and deeply confusing,” Inge writes. “Most women face a series of difficult mental gymnastics linked to losing their fertility, because it’s something society has always linked to femininity, female identity and social value. For trans men, non-binary and gender non-conforming people, the menopause can also be a sharp reminder that their biology doesn’t conform with their identity, which can cause dysphoria. It’s a time traditionally endured behind closed doors and the current lack of support, or even conversation, leaves many feeling invisible and alone.”

She explains that common menopause symptoms, which affect three in four women, “include hot flushes, insomnia, fatigue, decreased sex drive, bladder control difficulties, weight gain, headaches, anxiety, accelerated ageing, hair loss, brain fog and even suicidal thoughts”. Inge adds that many GPs are not sufficiently trained to treat the symptoms. “Frequently, this means those experiencing menopausal symptoms do not receive the care they deserve, and many are misdiagnosed with depression and put on antidepressants.”

Though HRT is medically documented to aid menopausal symptoms, it’s one of the only hormonal therapies that you can’t get free on NHS prescription in England. In addition, “most private health insurance plans do not cover menopause,” Igne reveals.

She urges members of the public to follow suit, using this template letter to encourage your MP to support the Menopause (Support and Services) Bill. You can also sign the #MenopauseRevolution petition here which too calls on the government to support this milestone change for women.

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