Pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare providers to the general public. In addition to their traditional role of dispensing drugs and treating minor ailments, they can help with a variety of health issues including those affecting women.
They are also a great source of knowledge when it comes to numerous over-the-counter products which can help patients discern to pick and choose items best suited to their needs.
Far beyond picking up a bimonthly prescription or popping in to purchase sunscreen for the family holiday, women across the UK make up a large majority of the daily visitors to the pharmacist.
It is widely known that women are more likely to obtain medicine or seek advice when it comes to a particular health complaint and as public awareness surrounding natural health and wellbeing – both physically and mentally – continues to grow, pharmacists play an essential role in dispensing advice on women’s health through all life stages.
Alongside advising on specific services and products at particular times of need, there is a greater demand for healthcare professionals and pharmacists alike to advise on the small and sustainable changes women can make to maintain their health.
Hormonal changes can make the teenage years turbulent for many. Amongst contraception and menstrual healthcare, it’s also important for pharmacists to advise teenage girls on the crucial nutrients for development at this time of life.
Magnesium and vitamin D, for example, play a vital role in the development of healthy joints and bones. Peak bone density is reached by our mid-twenties, making childhood and the teenage years an essential time to ‘lay the groundworks’ for healthy bones.
Teenage girls are also at greater risk of becoming iron deficient or anaemic due to monthly menstrual bleeding, particularly if a patient complains of heavy periods, so a daily iron supplement may be beneficial to avoid the need for future medication.
For expectant mothers, there is an overwhelming amount of information and a real pressure to learn as much as possible about optimal health, safety and wellbeing during pregnancy, for their new baby and beyond! As a pharmacist, you are a trusted source of information.
Folate is essential to the development of an unborn baby; minimizing the risk of birth defects and helping to prevent spina bifida and other spinal central nervous system birth defects.
Vitamin B12 will also provide a natural support to energy levels, essential during the first and third trimesters in particular, when pregnant women can feel more tired than usual.
Aside from prescribed medication, pharmacists can offer menopausal women an array of natural supplements to support common symptoms. During the menopause, hormone levels begin to drop which can lead to loss of bone density, so an effective vitamin D supplement is advisable throughout the autumn/ winter months in the least.
A transdermal (through the skin) magnesium supplement which works to efficiently elevate levels of the mineral in the body may also support in managing the symptoms of the menopause.
A natural relaxant, magnesium aids with restful sleep and tension relief in the muscles and is also known for its calming, mood-boosting properties.
As a pharmacist, it’s essential to equip your team with the knowledge that will enable them to help customers.
When stocking brands, consider choosing partners that value research, results-based products and place importance on education.
These brands will be more likely to support your workforce and provide detailed literature for the products you stock – meaning you can support customers in the very best way.
Consider training one member of the team to specialise in an area you feel will be well-suited to the needs of a large share of customers, such as pregnancy-related matters, to be able to offer the best advice on over-the-counter medicines and supplements.
Keeley Berry, nutritional expert at BetterYou, contributed to this article.
This article also appears in the August issue of Pharmacy Business.