Pharmacists are ‘very well suited’ to support patients experiencing menopause, but more awareness is needed, the former president of the British Menopause Society (BMS) has said.

Haitham Hamoda, who now leads the menopause service at King’s College Hospital, told The Pharmacist that community pharmacists are well placed to spot the symptoms of the menopause, correct misinformation, help their patients make an informed decision about treatment options and in some circumstances, prescribe medication.

However, he said that more awareness was needed across the profession, saying that although ‘there are lots of pharmacists who want to do it’, ‘they don't know how to go about it’.

He added: ‘There are many pharmacists who may not be aware that this is a role that they could take so I really think raising this awareness is really key.’

Former community pharmacist Melissa Sookia, set up Livve - an online pharmacist-led service that supports patients with the menopause - after seeing that pharmacists are ‘under-valued and unrecognised’ over what they can offer around the management of menopause.

She said the list of 48 menopause symptoms by Gen M - which provides research and experience to help brands better understand menopause, and which works in partnership with Livve - opened her eyes to the breadth of symptoms that could be caused by the menopause.

Ms Sookia also argued that pharmacists are likely to see menopause symptoms on a day-to-day basis, making them well-placed to look out for symptoms that could be related to menopause and provide advice on over-the-counter and lifestyle solutions as well as HRT.

She explained: ‘There are a lot of things that community pharmacists have dealt with or deal with on a day-to-day basis and most of the people that deal with the menopause in the news at the moment are doctors and I think a lot of the doctors don't see these symptoms in day out, a lot of these are pharmacist-led symptoms.

‘You could just have, for example, thrush a couple of times a year, and that could be the start of your perimenopause. But people don't realise that it is. It's just about increasing awareness, letting women know that these are signs to look out for. And because we see these patients so regularly in the pharmacy, I think pharmacists are so approachable.’

She also said that a good relationship between community pharmacy and the local GP practice could help women navigate HRT shortages and access treatment more easily.

Heather Jackson, co-founder of GenM agreed that pharmacists had a key role to play in helping those in menopause to thrive.

She said: ‘There are 48 medical, credible and clinical symptoms of the menopause, from hot flushes to brittle bones. Many of these can be supported by the expert knowledge of pharmacists, as well as simply signposting towards everyday products that can help people take control of their menopause.’

Ms Jackson added that many over-the-counter products may not be marketed towards the menopause but may help women with their symptoms.

However, both Ms Sookia and Mr Hamoda said that the understanding of menopause within the pharmacy profession needed to improve.

Mr Hamoda said that training, like that provided by the BMS, could equip pharmacists with useful skills for their day-to-day practice.

‘If you're a pharmacist, you are in a position where you understand the mechanisms behind it. You understand the pharmacology, you understand the changes, you understand the role of the interventions. It's a question of just giving you the sufficient training to help you provide that in your day-to-day practice,’ he said.

The BMS has a range of resources for clinicians, including pharmacists and prescribers, on its website, and the CPPE launched a new menopause learning gateway for pharmacy professionals today.

Chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society for England, Thorrun Govind, said that the Government needs to work more closely with healthcare professionals like pharmacists to ensure that women’s health and the menopause was higher up the agenda, in a contribution to It’s Beyond a Joke, a book published by Menopause Mandate, which launched for World Menopause Day today.

The group campaigned in parliament today, with a rally on Westminster College Green this evening calling for better access to HRT and improved awareness.

Meanwhile, in the House of Lords, parliamentary under secretary of state Nick Markham CBE committed this afternoon to a stocktake report in a year’s time on progress on the Government's menopause support efforts.