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When was the last time you visited your local pharmacist – for anything more than a pack of Ibruprofen, that is? You wouldn’t be alone; turns out these High Street services are being frequently overlooked.

But a new NHS England campaign – Stay Well Pharmacy – is making waves to change that by encouraging people to make their local pharmacy their first port of call when it comes to almost 40 minor health concerns. Makes sense, right? Why endure a two-week wait to see your GP when you could pop down to your nearest LloydsPharmacy in your lunch break.

Obviously, we’re not suggesting that you should see your pharmacist for absolutely all your health concerns – symptoms such as bloating, which is one of the most commonly missed ovarian cancer signs; irregular periods; and pelvic sign (a symptom of pelvic inflammatory disease), should always be directed to your GP. As should any concerns regarding pregnancy – particularly in its late stages. But, when it comes to conditions including sore throats, coughs, colds, backache and certain tummy problems, your pharmacist should be able to help.

“Those conditions, which are self-treatable should be directed to your local pharmacist,” says Anshu Bhimbat, a LloydsPharmacy pharmacist. “They will be able to advise on lifestyle changes and home remedies, as well as over-the-counter products.”

According to NHS England, around 18 million GP appointments and 2.1 million A&E visits occur every year for self-treatable conditions – at an annual cost of £850 million.

Want to do your bit but worried that the pharmacy is a bit – public? “You have the option to be seen in a private consultation room,” says Bhimbat. “Furthermore, because you don’t need to make an appointment, seeing your pharmacist can be more convenient.”

The rule of thumb, when it comes to self-treatable conditions, is that if their symptoms don’t ease after a couple of days, see your pharmacist. Then if they don’t improve a couple of days after that – despite following your pharmacist’s professional health guidance, check in with your GP.

And remember, if you really are struggling to get a GP appointment or a visit to your pharmacist just won’t cut it, there are many private GP services available online – Doctify, Push Doctor, Doctaly and Medicspot, the list goes on.
 
In short, there really is no reason not to get those niggling women’s health issues dealt with – however insignificant they may seem.

Embarrassment about certain conditions getting in the way? Here’s how to talk about gynaecological issues and not feel awkward. We understand, it’s not always easy.

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