OTC Women’s Health: From Menstrual Cramps To Yeast Infections, Ask Your Pharmacist

The Pharmacist’s Role In Women’s Health

Pharmacists are among the most accessible healthcare professionals and are often considered among the most trusted ones. Aside from providing the best over-the-counter (OTC) medications, pharmacists are especially significant to women. The OTC women’s health landscape is vast, with several products available to treat multiple issues. A pharmacist can offer advice on relieving symptoms of menstrual disorders, yeast infections, contraception, and many others.

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OTC medication and menstrual cramps

Most women experience menstrual cramps or dysmenorrhea to some degree every month. Menstrual cramps typically cause throbbing, aching pain in the lower belly before or during a woman’s period, ranging from mild to severe. About 60% of women experience moderate cramping. Severe cramps are characterized by an upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting. Pharmacists recommend OTC painkillers such as acetaminophen or naproxen sodium. Some women will also benefit from non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

What about yeast infections?

Yeast infections affect 3 out of 4 women at some point. Also called vaginal candidiasis, symptoms include vaginal pain, discharge, and irritation. The good thing is that yeast infections are easily treated with medications. Most women will visit a doctor, but a pharmacist can help if the condition is noticed early. The pharmacist can recommend OTC antifungal drugs in the form of creams, ointments, tablets, or suppositories. Some may be bought OTC, while others need a prescription. The pharmacist can also provide guidance, such as recommending a doctor.

Contraception and OTC solutions

Pharmacists also have a vital role in family planning by providing access to contraception. While discussions are still ongoing for other areas of health, pharmacists in some states can now prescribe contraceptives. By allowing pharmacists to prescribe medication, conception becomes more accessible. The pharmacist will ask several questions before providing birth control pills. Pharmacists also serve as a resource by counseling women and helping choose contraception methods.

Your pharmacist and pregnancy

Pregnant women also rely heavily on pharmacists. Pharmacists may recommend vitamins and supplements for pregnant and lactating women. In addition, since some drugs pose potential risks to the mother and child, pharmacists are in the position to recommend safe medications for pregnancy-related ailments. For example, some women experience headaches, constipation, cough, runny nose, sore throat, and other issues during pregnancy.

The power of compounding

Asking a pharmacist for help can reveal the power of compounding. A compounding pharmacist creates a drug to meet a patient’s unique needs when no commercially available drug can. For instance, some women may be unable to take medication for cramps in pill form. The pharmacist may be able to create a topical solution. In other cases, women could avoid allergies or side effects by removing ingredients through a specialized formula.

Trust your pharmacist

Pharmacists play a vital role in women’s health. A pharmacist doesn’t merely hand over OTC and prescription drugs. Instead, pharmacists can help women make informed choices about medications, give more access to contraception, and help with other unique needs. In addition, these experts understand how drugs interact, so women on existing medication can take OTC drugs safely. Before purchasing any OTC women’s health product, don’t hesitate to talk with the pharmacist. Women may be surprised by the assistance a pharmacist can offer.

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