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A Question to the Minister for Women- Is that fair?

18 May, 2015

Update: This letter was received from the Minister for Health in regards to the removal of Vagifem pessaries from the PBS.

Letter from Australian Government RE pessaries

tony abbott

Tony Abbott PM, Minister for Women  

susan lee

Susan Lee MP. Minister for Health



Today I was talking to a patient who told me that Vagifem pessaries have been removed from the PBS as of 1st May, 2015. Vagifem pessaries are a form of local oestrogen that a significant number of FEMALE pensioners or women holding health care cards are currently using to maintain or improve their pelvic health. That now means that the price of Vagifem has increased from $6.10 for a box to $26 for a box. Women are often on Vagifem for 30 years. Now I would like to know- On what basis are these decisions made?

The lady in question actually wants to discuss other options, because on a pension, for her, that is a large increase that makes her want to stop using it.

Vagifem assists women who are post-menopausal to re-oestrogenise their vaginal tissues and helps significantly with improved tissue quality, increased vaginal lubrication, improved urethral sphincter tone (and therefore potentially improved continence) and can even help with better anal sphincter tone potentially improving faecal incontinence (there are local oestrogen receptors throughout the uro-genital region – all of these things are terribly important affecting the quality of life – in the most basic way– for women).

Because I don’t know how these decisions are made, I could be cynical and say there isn’t going to be much fuss from the women because women are pretty silent about their vaginas in general. They don’t blab about their incontinence, their prolapse or their painful sex because many people (women and men) get embarrassed if we go on a lot about those topics. I have to say I am very disappointed that a female Health Minister (who must be pre-menopausal or doesn’t yet know the distress that a de-oestrogenized vagina causes) has signed off on this change.

I wonder if or Get Up can start a petition about this on behalf of all the pensioner women on Vagifem.

I suggest you share this blog to all your post-menopausal friends and your local member and let’s start a bit of a fuss!


  1. Reblogged this on The Life Of Von and commented:
    Why we need a more informed Minister for Women.

  2. good idea!!

  3. Monica Julius permalink

    Is there a petition to sign? I’ll sign it. I bought some recently and was surprised at the increased price.

  4. shirley Owen permalink

    Dear Sue congratulations on bringing this matter to attention. However instead of going outside the profession to lobby for change why not put it to the APA via Women’s Health and the AMA? This would give more weight coming from a medical group than a lay group. Thank God for activists for women like you at the coalface.

  5. Margi Macdonald permalink

    This issue definitely needs publicity and widespread awareness.
    Shirley, I agree that the APA and AMA could (and should) be lobbying for change, but there is also strength in numbers and the lived experience of women who need this medication.
    I’m sad you think “more weight” comes from professional organisations, rather than everyday women.

    • shirley Owen permalink

      Margi, “more weight” was perhaps ill chosen as it is just an assumption, but unfortunately some lobby groups do already have immediate avenues of access. I am very much involved in empowering women through advocacy and I agree that there is indeed strength in numbers and the lived experience of women.

  6. Janet Walter permalink

    Hi Sue, my daughter just had her first baby and I thought some pelvic floor support pants might be in order. I can’t recall the name or details of supplier. Saw them at recent forum. Can you please advise? Cheers Janet.

  7. Elsa permalink

    Just went to fill my prescription this morning and was told about the huge increase in price of the Vagifem pessaries. I was gobsmacked. What the heck??

  8. Robyn Simpson permalink

    Thank you for raising this matter. So many of my friends and I rely on using Vagifem for our health and well-being. We are all post-menopausal and on fixed incomes, so hopefully, we can have this decision reversed..

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