Utrogestan Shortage in the UK - Latest Advice - Stella
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Utrogestan shortage in the UK

byDr. Lucy Wilkinson

Updated 9th November 2023

Utrogestan is a commonly used hormone replacement therapy (HRT) medication for women experiencing symptoms of menopause. This year, many people struggled to get hold of their prescribed Utrogestan. So what’s the latest? A Serious Shortage Protocol (SSP) for Utrogestan capsules issued by the Department of Health and Social Care ended on 29th September 2023. This means that pharmacies no longer need to restrict the amount of Utrogestan they dispense to a two-month supply.  Here, Stella’s clinical advisor Dr Lucy Wilkinson answers some of the most frequently asked questions about Utrogestan.

What is Utrogestan?

Utrogestan is a capsule that is sometimes used for HRT. The capsules contain a form of progesterone known as micronised progesterone. This is identical to the progesterone produced by your body, so you may also hear it called body identical HRT.

Utrogestan is currently a popular choice as it’s thought to have lower risks than other, synthetic progesterones. Current evidence suggests that it’s associated with lower risks of serious blood clots (including DVT and PE) and cardiovascular disease, and might also bring a lower risk of breast cancer than other types of progesterone.

Learn more about the risks and benefits of HRT.

Who needs to take progesterone and why?

Women who are on HRT but still have their womb need to take progesterone (like Utrogestan) as part of their treatment.

This is because oestrogen can cause abnormal thickening of the womb lining, and even cancer, if taken alone. Progesterone opposes this action and effectively removes the risk. For this reason, your doctor may advise you to take progesterone.

What should I do if I am taking Utrogestan and it’s not available at my pharmacy?

The manufacturer Besins Healthcare reports that Utrogestan 100mg capsules are now readily available, but some supply disruption may remain if your pharmacy hasn’t yet restocked. If this affects you, follow this advice:

  1. Keep taking the medication as prescribed for as long as your supplies last
  2. Do not miss doses or take smaller doses than usual to stretch your supply
  3. Speak to your doctor as soon as possible to secure an alternative if needed. Remember that most doctor surgeries take at least two working days to produce a new prescription
  4. Try alternative pharmacies further afield. While it probably isn’t convenient to go on a wild goose chase for your HRT, it could be worth widening your search.

Are there any alternatives to Utrogestan?

There are a few options. The most important thing is to try and ensure a continued supply of progesterone to protect your womb lining. This may mean taking a different form of progesterone in the short term before switching back to your usual product.

Options include:

  • Provera and Norethisterone. These are synthetic progesterones, both of which are used frequently for a number of reasons including contraception and to stop menstrual bleeding.
  • Bijuve is a form of oral HRT which combines micronised progesterone (just like Utrogestan) with a body identical oestrogen. However, this is not suitable for everyone as oral oestrogens put you at higher risk of certain complications (including DVT and PE) than those absorbed through the skin.
  • A hormonal coil or Intrauterine Device (IUD). This is a contraceptive device which slowly releases progesterone into your womb, protecting the lining. Brands that can be used as part of HRT include Mirena, Levosert and Benilexa, although Mirena is the only coil which is currently licensed for use in HRT. While Levosert and Benilexa are recommended in current guidelines, their use is unlicensed and may be less common.
  • Gepretix is a new product to the market that contains 100mg progesterone. This is licensed for post-menopausal women, used together with an oestrogen product

The British Menopause Society publishes a useful document on HRT products and equivalent preparations which you may find useful.

Is it safe to stop taking Utrogestan suddenly?

It is important to try and maintain a constant supply of progesterone to protect your womb lining while you are on HRT. Speak to your doctor if you are struggling to obtain supplies of Utrogestan.

Can I use a different brand of Utrogestan?

Utrogestan is currently the only brand on the market which contains micronised progesterone alone.

A combination tablet – Bijuve – is available, although this also contains oral oestrogen which may not be suitable for everyone.

Can I get Utrogestan through Stella?

At the time of writing, Utrogestan is available through Stella.

Final word

Utrogestan is back in stock and is a good choice of medication for many women.

Your pharmacy should be able to restock, but if you’re ever in short supply, do not be tempted to reduce your dose to stretch out your supply! Instead, speak to your doctor who will be able to recommend an alternative.

Find out more about menopause on our blog or in our symptoms library.

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