Hormone Therapy For Women
Hormone Replacement Therapy For Women
As you age, your body slowly ceases to produce estrogen and progesterone, two hormones that thicken the uterus to prepare it for the implantation of a fertilized egg. These hormones also protect the body from developing uterine cancer and osteoporosis. The decrease of these hormone levels is also responsible for many of the symptoms of menopause.
As these hormones are valuable to women’s health, many women choose to replace them synthetically through a pill, patch or cream to retain the benefits produced through hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Estrogen, by itself, helps relieve menopause symptoms and prevent osteoporosis. When combined with progesterone, the therapy allows for the uterine lining shedding each month without the regular bleeding. While there are risks associated with HRT, it is important to take the lowest dosage possible re-evaluating your therapy annually. Your doctor can help you decide which type of HRT, if any, is right for you.
Hormone Replacement FAQs
What Is Hormone Replacement Therapy?
During menopause a woman’s estrogen levels drop. This often leads to uncomfortable symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, and changes in the vagina. Hormone replacement therapy basically supplements the hormone supply that has dropped, alleviating these symptoms. Hormone replacement therapy has also been shown to help with bone loss due to osteoporosis.
What Does Hormone Replacement Therapy Do?
Hormone replacement therapy is used to give relief from the symptoms of menopause and to help women prone to osteoporosis from having bone loss.
What Are The Benefits Of Hormone Replacement Therapy?
There are two ways to replace hormones: systemically or in the vagina. The benefits you receive depend on which method you are receiving.
Systemic hormone therapy — In this method, the patient either takes hormone therapy by pellets, pill, skin patch, gel, cream, or spray form. It is very effective for relief of hot flashes and night sweats, common symptoms of menopause. Estrogen can also ease vaginal changes that come with menopause, such as dryness, itching, burning, and discomfort during intercourse. Systemic estrogen also helps women protect against osteoporosis.
Low-dose vaginal estrogen — The other option is to deliver the estrogen directly through the vaginal tissues. These products come in cream, tablet, or ring form. They can effectively treat vaginal changes and some urinary symptoms. Low-dose vaginal preparations do not help with hot flashes, night sweats, or osteoporosis. But by placing the estrogen in the vaginal tissues it limits absorption of estrogen into the body.
Who Is An Ideal Candidate For Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) does present some health risks, but for women dealing with the annoying symptoms of menopause the benefits may outweigh the risks. A good candidate for HRT is healthy and has these characteristics:
You are experiencing moderate to severe hot flashes or other menopause symptoms.
You are suffering from bone loss and it isn’t responding to other treatment options.
You stopped having periods before the age of 40 or lost normal function of your ovaries before the age of 40.
Certain women who experience early menopause, particularly those who had their ovaries removed and haven’t started HRT until at least age 45 have a higher risk of these health concerns:
Anxiety or depression
For these women, the benefits of HRT generally outweigh the risks.
What Are The Risks Of Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Research has shown that a combination estrogen-progestin pill increased the risk of certain serious health conditions, including:
Blood clot formation
These risks vary depending on the age of the patient and when HRT was started. Women who begin HRT more than 10 to 20 years after the onset of menopause or at age 60 or older are at greater risk for the above health concerns. In contrast, if hormone therapy is started within 10 years of the onset of menopause or before the age of 60, the benefits are typically greater than the risks listed above.
What Are The Side Effects Associated With Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Dosages can be managed to alleviate some of these issues, but these side effects are possible with hormone replacement therapy:
Breast swelling or tenderness
How Long Does It Take Hormone Replacement Therapy To Work?
Hormone replacement therapy works quickly to relieve menopausal symptoms. Patients usually notice significant improvement within just 10 days of starting their treatment.
Is Hormone Replacement Therapy Right For Me?
HRT can provide a great solution to the annoying symptoms of menopause, and it helps keep osteoporosis at bay. If you’re within 10 years of the onset of menopause and under the age of 60, HRT could be a good treatment for you. But if you don’t fall within those parameters, it may not be the way to go.
Is Hormone Replacement Therapy Safe?
This is a big “depends.” There are definite pros and cons with hormone replacement therapy. What may be completely safe and beneficial for some women could be dangerous for others. Whether the pros outweigh the cons is probably dependent upon the severity of your symptoms and your medical history.