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A hormone replacement therapy (HRT) spray could mean an end to patches and pills for the thousands of women who use the treatment.

During the menopause, women's oestrogen levels drop HRT replaces that oestrogen, thereby delaying the natural ageing process.

In the UK, two million women take it approximately one in five of those going through the menopause. It is estimated that thousands of women have problems with current HRT.

Symptoms range from anxiety and depression to blood clots and even strokes. Nausea has been associated with pills and irritation with skin patches.

The new device works by puffing the HRT spray onto the skin like an asthma inhaler.

It contains a sunscreen that penetrates the skin and forms a patch.

Timothy Morgan developed the spray while he was a doctoral student at Monash University's Victorian College of Pharmacy in Australia.

He hopes it will bypass the problems associated with other methods of delivering the therapy.

"The quest has long been to find a simple way of getting drugs into the bloodstream without irritating the skin or causing other side effects throughout the human body," he said.

The spray has been tested on patients at the Royal Women's Hospital in Melbourne.

It will not require extensive clinical trials usually needed for new drugs because doctors and scientists know well what the effects of sunscreen and hormones are.

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