The government has made a U-turn in blocking “life-changing” drugs from menopausal women, but patients still struggle to access treatment.

Menopausal women are experiencing suicidal thoughts and debilitating physical symptoms due to the government stopping the distribution of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) implants, which are used to alleviate menopausal symptoms, The Independent Learned.

An estimated 13 million women are going through menopause in the UK – a substantial proportion of whom will experience debilitating symptoms including heart palpitations, hot flashes, headaches, vaginal pain, anxiety and depression.

Some menopausal women find that other forms of HRT do not relieve their symptoms. Implants offer more consistent medication delivery.

Diane Danzebrink, who runs Menopause Support, said The Independent she has been inundated with messages from “desperate” women over the past month, struggling to get their usual HRT implant.

“It is an essential treatment to save lives. Life without it is unimaginable,” said Danzebrink, whose organization supports tens of thousands of women going through menopause.

This is the only HRT that works for me. I have been in surgical menopause since I was 33 years old. For me, HRT is not a choice. I'm absolutely floored if I don't have it. It's like having someone who depends on antidepressants because they are seriously mentally ill.

Victoria Hardy

Danzebrink warned that the situation was “poorly” handled by the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and patients were left in the dark “running in every direction trying to find some information”.

Julian Beach of the government agency said The Independent they “paused the import of Estra 25 mg and 50 mg pellets” into the UK after “some compliance issues” were flagged to them.

“A review of the information available to date has found no evidence of harm caused by these implants, which have been used for over 10 years in the UK,” the representative added.

“We are aware that these unlicensed medicines are critical for a specific group of patients and, as there are currently no suitable alternatives, further imports of these medicines into the UK market will continue whilst we complete a regulatory review. We will communicate our findings once this review is complete.”

Danzebrink said she heard predominantly from young women going through surgical menopause who were struggling to get implants. These are often women who have had their ovaries removed due to premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) or extreme endometriosis, she added.

She said the inability to get HRT implants can cause increased anxiety, mood changes, decreased confidence, heart palpitations, hot flashes, night sweats, joint pain and memory problems.

I will feel very depressed and it is as if I have completely lost my desire for life and am anxious. This impacts my family.

Victoria Hardy

Victoria Hardy, a menstrual health activist, said The Independent she was “devastated” after her implant replacement appointment was rescheduled from this month to mid-May.

The 40-year-old said: “This is the only HRT that works for me. I have been in surgical menopause since I was 33 years old. For me, HRT is not a choice. I'm absolutely floored if I don't have it. It’s like having someone dependent on antidepressants because they are seriously mentally ill.”

She is already experiencing mental difficulties due to the end of her current implant, Hardy added, saying she is experiencing mental confusion and memory problems.

Ms Hardy said: “If I wait until May I will feel very depressed and it is as if I have completely lost my desire for life and am anxious. This impacts my family.

“My ability to simply function goes away, my brain becomes confused. I get extremely tired because the implant is wearing off.

“Physically I will start to hurt and my joints will be quite sore. Very quickly, insomnia sets in. I have the most horrible hot flashes and night sweats that are relentless. I’m more prone to allegory – my eyes get dry, itchy and swollen and my face swells.”

Kathy Mackin, who lives on the outskirts of Edinburgh, said she forked out almost £3,000 on flights and a hotel to travel to London to have her HRT implant fitted recently – adding that her doctor told her from the next day they would no longer be available .

“I had a full-blown panic attack,” said the 41-year-old. “I cried. This is my complete lifeline.”

(Kathy Mackin)

Although they have lifted the blockade on implants, there is uncertainty about how quickly supplies will arrive and some women she knows should already have access to them, Mackin added.

She said: “Without the implant, I have suicidal ideation, chronic depression and anxiety. I don't leave the house and I have cognitive difficulties. You go from having a life to having it taken away from you.

“The government did this in a very sneaky way. They would not enter into dialogue with the consultants. Consultants were in the dark, so they couldn't tell patients anything. He was treated terribly.”

A spokesperson for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has been approached for comment.

If you are experiencing feelings of distress or struggling to cope, you can speak to Samaritans confidentially on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org or visit Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

If you live in the U.S. and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance now, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This is a free, confidential crisis hotline available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.

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