CUMBRIA is facing a shortage of the contraceptive pill and hormone replacement therapy.

A national issue is being felt in the county, with women being encouraged to look at alternative brands for the time-being.

The medications which are unavailable are currently used both to prevent pregnancy, but also to treat a range of health conditions. These include women who are going through the menopause, or after a hysterectomy.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is used to relieve symptoms of the menopause, as it replaces hormones that are at a lower level.

Along with HRT, the contraceptive pill shortfall could have massive ramifications, as these are not only used to prevent pregnancy, but the pill can help women who are suffering from endometriosis or acne.

For more than 50 years the pill has been on the market and, when taken correctly, is over 99 per cent effective at preventing pregnancy.

This means that less than one woman in 100 who use the combined pill as contraception will get pregnant in one year.

Cumbria Sexual Health has issued a warning and advice for women who are affected by the shortage in the pill.

A statement online says: “If you’re affected by the contraceptive pill shortage you may be able to be prescribed a different brand of pill that will have the same ingredients as your normal pill.

“Companies have put the shortage down to problems at manufacturing sites, with some delays expecting to last into the new year.”

A spokeswoman from NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We are aware that there are ongoing manufacturing issues that have affected the supply of some oral contraceptive pill products and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) products.

“Regular updates relating to this are circulated nationally to health services by the Department of Health and Social Care, containing information about preparations that remain available.

“This also supports local decision making, as clinicians may have been required to switch patients to alternative products that contain the same active ingredients for a temporary period.”

She continued: “Clinicians have also been working closely with community pharmacies to ensure that patients are still able to access these medicines.

“If a patient has been affected by shortages of their usual medicine, their GP or local pharmacy will be able to advise them on the most appropriate alternative.”

Cumbria Sexual Health has published a list of medications affected on its social media platform , and offering the names of other brands which patients could speak to their GP about.

A spokesman for the service added: “Some pills are made up with the same amount of hormones, but they have different names. This is just because they are a different brand.

“If you can’t get your normal prescription please talk to your GP or pharmacist about prescribing an alternative brand.”