What to do if you are self medicating
Difficulties in accessing gender-affirming medication via the NHS has led to a reported increase in trans teenagers buying drugs online to alter their hormone levels. If you are already self-medicating or considering DIY hormones here’s what you should know:
- When it comes to hormones, one size does not fit all
While first hand accounts shared online can be very reassuring and informative it is important to know that every individual is different. Your personal healthcare needs should be assessed for you and you alone and not based on the experiences of any one else. There are different types of blocker and different types of hormone. There are different strengths and different ways of using the medication. According to your age, your medical history, your family make-up – all these affect what is best for you.
- Talk to your GP
Unless your medication has been prescribed by a medical professional you should think about how safe it is to continue taking it. Speak to your GP and ask for a bridging prescription which can be issued as part of a harm reduction approach. The following guidance may help: https://www.gmc-uk.org/ethical-guidance/ethical-hub/trans-healthcare#mental-health-and-bridging-prescriptions
- Your right to timely treatment
The NHS constitution states that patients should start to receive specialist treatment within 18 weeks. If you are not getting the help you need, put it in writing and state that it is your right. https://www.nhs.uk/nhsengland/appointment-booking/pages/nhs-waiting-times.aspx
- Change your GP
If you find your GP is not supportive of your needs even after you have explained things, you are entitled to change to another doctor.
- Why get a prescription?
Medicines bought without a prescription are not regulated. There is no guarantee of the dose, strength, quality or composition of the medicine that will arrive through the post. Only ever buy prescription medication with a prescription given by a doctor who is qualified to look after your needs properly.
- How do I know if the pharmacy I am using is legitimate?
Genuine online pharmacies carry the logos of their regulatory bodies namely the MHRA and GPhC. You should be able to see the logos on the website and click on them to verify that they are who they say they are. These online pharmacies will only accept orders that come with a proper prescription that is tailor made for you.
- Check your blood levels
Working with an experienced doctor or nurse will ensure you get the medication you need at the dose that you need it. As part of your journey you will need regular blood tests to ensure your hormones are at the right levels and that adjustments can be made for your individual needs.
- I can’t wait any longer
Patients should in no way be penalised for supplementing their NHS care with private care. If you cannot wait, get in touch with us here at GenderGP and we may be able to help.
- You are not alone
If you have had a negative experience in the past which led you to self medicate, we understand. There are plenty of diversity inclusive healthcare professionals who will listen, understand and help. You don’t have to deal with this on your own.
- You have a right to be taken seriously
Transgender people exist. You have the right to be taken seriously. As part of this process, it is crucial for young people to be psychologically evaluated by a qualified professional before undertaking treatment – whether on the NHS or privately. A multi-disciplinary approach to patient care is essential, and is a model that should be applied by any practitioner involved in treating transgender people of any age. It is your right to receive individualised, timely, compassionate care that suits your needs.
If you are self-medicating you can swap your medication for safe and prescribed medication from me. I can advise on your dosage, arrange blood tests and you will find it cheaper and safer. I have compared my partner pharmacy (ClearChemist) with the commonly used websites that sell prescription medication without a prescription.
These are indicative prices only and do not include postage packing and prescription fees for any of the sites I have quoted.
– Dr Webberley