To tackle health inequalities experienced by women across Great Britain, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has called pharmacy teams to help reduce health inequalities for women in their communities.

Many women’s health issues are associated with stigma, which may result in women feeling uncomfortable to openly discuss them and lead to tolerance of abnormal symptoms, reducing quality of life, and possibly resulting in late detection of cancer.

Stigma also exists around pregnancy and childbirth for gay women and others in non-traditional family units.

“As the third largest healthcare profession, pharmacy can help reduce health inequalities for women through a range of public health services,” RPS said. 

Community pharmacists and their staff understand the needs and challenges women in their local areas, which can help address health inequalities. Greater consideration is needed about how pharmacists can fully support people from marginalised communities, such as some minority ethnic groups, people who are homeless or have no permanent address, people in economically deprived and rural communities, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and those unlikely to access other healthcare services.

Claire Anderson, the new RPS president, said: “Pharmacists can help reduce stigma and improve women’s awareness of what is normal and what is not, covering issues like endometriosis, excessive menstrual bleeding, menopause and incontinence.”

“Improved guidance on medication in pregnancy and breastfeeding is needed to ensure pharmacists can provide consistent, evidence-based, reliable information and advice to women across Great Britain.

“We believe women’s health should be covered in undergraduate training for pharmacists, and more research data is needed on how medicines work specifically in women.”

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