You don't have to accept severe period pain or heavy bleeding. Join the "Just a Period" campaign
Home

New data reveals big gap in access to hormone replacement therapy for ethnic minority and deprived women

A black woman with curly shoulder length looking sad

A report looking at prescribing rates for HRT around the country has found that women from Black, Asian and low socioeconomic backgrounds receive the potentially life changing treatment at much lower rates than their white and more affluent counterparts.

The report, ‘Health of the Nation Report in Relation to Hormone Replacement Therapy’, analysed data for 1.85 million female patients aged between 45 and 55. The data shows that there are approximately five times fewer black women (5.2%), and four times fewer Asian women (6.2%) on HRT compared to white women (23.3%).

The data also shows that nearly twice as many women from the best-off group are on HRT (23%) compared to those from the most deprived group (12%).

HRT is an effective treatment for menopausal symptoms, which include sleep disturbances, hot flushes, memory problems, incontinence, and depression. While all women experience some symptoms, a quarter of women are expected to experience severe symptoms which can seriously impact their quality of life.

There are communities that, for whatever reason, are not accessing this treatment and it is vital that we find a way to bridge the gap to ensure better outcomes for all patients" Carolyn Harris MP

A survey of menopausal women in 2022 showed that taking HRT can significantly improve their symptoms, with over half of women in one survey claiming that it ‘gave them their life back’. It also showed that black and other ethnic minority women were more likely to experience delays in diagnosis and treatment than their white counterparts.

A 2023 study into the gap in menopause care for minority ethnic women found that women from marginalised communities might be less likely to seek help for the menopause due to cultural sensitivities around menstruation and ageing. It also found that talking about menopausal symptoms could be embarrassing, and that the expectation was to ‘just get on with it’ during this phase of life.

The number of women aged 45 and older in the UK is on an upwards trajectory and it is estimated that there are currently around 13 million perimenopausal or menopausal women in the UK, equating to around one-third of the entire female population.

This new report was launched as part of ongoing work by the Menopause All Party Parliamentary Group, chaired by Carolyn Harris MP. The data in the report was analysed by ECLIPSE, which contains 28 million anonymous live patient records.

We must ensure our health systems are designed for all women in society, not just the white and privileged" Janet Lindsay

Carolyn Harris MP said, “Whilst HRT might not be the right treatment for everyone, it should be easily available to those women who want it.  But the worrying disparities reflected in this report tell a very different story and demonstrate why there is still so much work to do.  There are communities that, for whatever reason, are not accessing this treatment and it is vital that we find a way to bridge the gap to ensure better outcomes for all patients”

Janet Lindsay, Chief Executive of Wellbeing of Women said, “HRT can be a life changing treatment for some women going through the menopause. The huge disparities in this report demonstrate a worrying trend towards a two-tier system of menopause care. We must ensure our health systems are designed for all women in society, not just the white and privileged. Our Health Collective was set up to address the unacceptable disparity in health outcomes experienced by women from marginalised communities.”

Dr Julian Brown, from Eclipse said, “This data demonstrates that our current health system is not designed to engage with all groups of the population in an equal and standardised way. There is a gulf in healthcare between more educated and engaged individuals than the more vulnerable. Now, we need to take an innovative patient-centric approach to close this gulf and ensure all individuals regardless of background or ethnicity should have the opportunity to access the same high-quality care and treatments available within the NHS.”