Superdrug has launched the UK’s first high street perimenopause health screen service to support people who are experiencing symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats and erratic menstrual flow.

Perimenopause is the stage of approaching menopause when a person’s hormonal balance starts changing and can result in menopausal symptoms, but can also affect health in other ways, such as increased risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.

Approximately 13 million women in the UK are either peri- or post-menopausal, with perimenopause typically starting when a person is in their forties, although it can happen earlier or later. Symptoms can last for 15 years.

The service is an in-clinic blood test conducted by Superdrug nurses, which looks at key hormonal levels and health areas that are affected by the menopause, including:

  • Reproductive hormones oestradiol, Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinising Hormone (LH).
  • Calcium, magnesium and vitamin D levels, which can worsen menopausal-related symptoms.
  • Cardiovascular health, checking HDL and LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol and triglycerides. After the menopause, a person’s cholesterol levels have a tendency to worsen, and the risk of cardiovascular problems increases. Tracking levels over time and acting early if a person’s lipids worsen can help reduce the risk.
  • Thyroid hormone levels, checking thyroid markers FT4 and Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), as thyroid dysfunction can cause menopause-like symptoms.

Caris Newson, head of healthcare services at Superdrug, said the service was intended to make it ‘as convenient as possible’ for people to get professional advice, consider strategies to manage their symptoms or pursue treatment options that ‘could significantly improve their quality of life’.

Dr Sara Kayat, Superdrug’s medical ambassador, added: ‘The menopause, and the time leading up to it can be a very confusing time for women, with symptoms that can often have multiple causes.

‘Whilst most cases can be diagnosed by a doctor based on symptoms alone, many women understandably would also like to have blood tests to confirm the diagnosis. However, it is important to know that the female hormone levels can fluctuate during the perimenopause and can at times drop back down to normal levels.’

The £99 service is a fasting test and should be taken as close to day three of the menstrual cycle if the patient is having a period.

The move follows recent reports of disruption to the supply of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) medicines. Community pharmacists and HRT suppliers met with the Department of Health and Social Care last week to discuss the impact of the shortages on patients.

Pharmacists in England can now limit the amount of HRT products women can access to help manage the shortages.

The Pharmacist has previously reported that the shortage was due, in part, to a rise in demand as a result of greater awareness around menopause, with a 38% increase in the number of prescription items over the past seven years. Prescription data published last month also suggested HRT prescriptions had doubled over the last five years.

The head of the UK’s Covid-19 Vaccine Taskforce is to spearhead a new unit set up to help tackle the shortage.

Last year, the Government announced it would be launching a single annual prepayment for HRT, however its launch has already been delayed until next spring.

In recent months, Superdrug has also launched a jet lag tablet service and a £139 check-up service.