Women going through the menopause face more shortages of hormone replacement therapy drugs.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has pledged to intervene but drugs companies admit some treatments will be out of stock until later this year.
Munira Wilson, the Lib-Dem MP for Twickenham, said the lack of availability of HRT drugs for some women was “critical”. She challenged Mr Hancock in Parliament to address the shortages, which first emerged about a year ago.
She told the Standard: “Anecdotal evidence I have picked up from talking to people, and what I’ve found out, has concerned me. HRT helps manage a lot of difficult symptoms of the menopause.”
One London woman said she began experiencing problems obtaining Elleste Duet pills almost a year ago. She suffered extreme tiredness, night sweats and sleep deprivation after having to switch medications.
She had to find the next best alternative herself because her GP had little knowledge of the menopause and HRT.
“If you find the drug you have tried and tested is no longer available, it is quite difficult,” the woman said. “You can’t just instantly swap to another one [without side-effects]. My experience was when I went to the pharmacist, they were not able to tell me why it was out of stock. They just say it’s not available.”
She added: “People think the menopause is something old ladies have. But there will be millions affected.”
Andrée Frieze, a mother of two and councillor in Richmond, said she had been unable to obtain Evorel patches since the start of the month.
She said they had dramatically improved her quality of life when she started taking them last summer.
“I was sleeping a lot of the time, which is unlike me,” she said. “I’m normally somebody who has quite a lot of energy. Emotionally I would say I was a bit all over the place. My husband started to say he was slightly scared of me.
“The day after I had the first patch I just felt myself again. This [supply shortage] is not just about the headaches. It seriously impacts on my ability to live my life as a working woman.”
Mr Hancock said shortages of HRT therapies were “an incredibly important issue” and stemmed from problems with factories abroad. Last October the Government imposed restrictions on exports of UK-manufactured HRT medications in a bid to shore up supplies.
The British Menopause Society this week warned that Indivina tablets will be out of stock until the end of next month, some Evorel patches will not be available until March and some FemSeven patches may be unavailable until next year. Problems are said to include manufacturing issues, shortages of raw ingredients, regulatory issues and some firms withdrawing products.
The Department of Health and Social Care believes supplies will improve by the end of February. It did not know how many women had been unable to receive HRT.
A spokesman said: “We understand how distressing the HRT shortage is for women who need these medicines and we have been doing everything we can to ensure they can access them as soon as possible… We are working closely with all suppliers to resolve this issue as soon as possible.”