Hormone Replacement Therapy
Menopause is a normal part of the natural aging process for women and happens in three stages: perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause. The stages of menopause can last several years and produce a range of symptoms that can strongly interfere with quality of life, such as night sweats, hot flashes, and vaginal dryness. Hormone therapy for women can help balance estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone to reduce menopause symptoms and help women experience a better quality of life as they continue to age. Hormone therapy has also been shown to reduce the risk of serious health conditions linked to hormonal imbalances, such as heart disease, osteoporosis, and cancer.
How does hormone therapy for women work?
Hormone therapy for women delivers hormones, including estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, to help women prevent disease, improve mood swings, and relieve other health problems that can stem from hormonal imbalance. Hormone therapy is available in the form of pills, gels, patches, and vaginal creams or rings, and is even available in pellets that can be inserted into the skin for consistent delivery of hormones over the course of several weeks. Women who start using hormone therapy for menopause can experience relief from symptoms within hours of beginning treatment.
Can hormone therapy reverse menopause?
Hormone therapy can help women achieve a healthier hormonal balance so they can delay the full onset of menopause and benefit from improved menopausal symptoms. Hormone therapy helps optimize your hormone levels so you can achieve improved overall health and delay unwanted symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, insomnia, mood swings, and loss of bladder control.
What does hormone therapy do for menopause?
Estrogen plays a major role in fertility, pregnancy, and a number of other important bodily processes, such as helping balance “good” HDL cholesterol levels to help prevent heart disease. Estrogen also helps control how the body uses calcium, which is why a decline in estrogen during menopause is linked to bone loss and osteoporosis.
With the onset of menopause or perimenopause, natural levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone start to decrease, causing a range of symptoms such as lower libido and loss of bone strength. But hormone therapy boosts the body’s estrogen levels, helping promote optimal functioning.
Other benefits of hormone therapy for menopause include:
- Fewer hot flashes
- Reduced vaginal dryness
- Reduced night sweats
- Increased energy
- Reduced osteoporosis risk
- Improved sleep quality
- Increased sex drive
- Increased blood flow and circulation
- Improved mood and mental health
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Reduced risk of certain cancers
- Decrease in body fat
- Improved bladder control
- Improved mental clarity
- Increased motivation
- Reduced risk of cognition problems and Alzheimer’s disease
- Improved blood sugar control
- Improved skin tone and appearance
- Improved well-being and quality of life
Do I need hormone therapy after menopause?
If you’ve been through menopause or are currently experiencing menopause symptoms, hormone therapy may help reduce symptoms and lower your risk of serious health issues including heart disease, osteoporosis, anxiety, depression, and early death. You may also benefit from hormone therapy if you’ve lost bone mass and aren’t responding to other treatments, you stopped having periods before the age of 40, or you lost normal function of your ovaries before the age of 40.
Talk to your doctor to find out whether you need or could benefit from hormone therapy after menopause. Your doctor can evaluate your medical history and current state of health, and determine whether hormone therapy is right for you based on these factors along with age and symptoms.
When to start hormone therapy for menopause
The onset of perimenopause begins around the age of 45, while menopause symptoms usually begin between the ages of 50 and 52. Symptoms often last for two to three years, but may last shorter or longer based on various factors related to your health and medical history.
Being aware of menopause symptoms and keeping track of the frequency and severity of symptoms can help you determine whether it’s a good time to start hormone therapy for menopause. Talk to your doctor about the possibility of beginning a low-dose treatment as soon as you notice symptoms so you can delay the onset of perimenopause and menopause.
Is hormone therapy dangerous?
Hormone therapy for women has been used to treat menopause symptoms since the 1960s, but a 2002 study conducted on the safety of HRT found that this treatment increased the risk of breast cancer. After these study results were made public, the number of women in the U.S. who used hormone therapy decreased by 67% within a 7-year period.
However, newer scientific evidence suggests that the earlier studies were flawed, and that women who use hormone therapy are at no greater risk of breast cancer than women who do not use hormone therapy. The new research indicates that women can safely use hormone therapy and benefit from an improvement in menopause symptoms and overall quality of life.
Hormone therapy for women does come with its own risks just like any other medical treatment. HRT may not be safe or ideal for women who have a history of breast or endometrial cancer, blood clots, unexplained vaginal bleeding, gallbladder disease, heart attack, stroke, or liver disease. Talk to your doctor to determine whether HRT is safe for you.
How do I choose the best hormone therapy?
Explore your options for HRT before choosing a treatment, since each type of hormone therapy has its own advantages and disadvantages. Conventional hormone therapy uses a synthetic formula derived from horse urine, and may cause side effects including irregular vaginal bleeding, gallbladder disease, and digestive issues. Conventional HRT also uses a one-size-fits-all approach that delivers the same amount of estrogen and progesterone to every woman who uses this therapy — meaning women who receive extra unneeded amounts of these hormones may face a higher risk of cancer and other adverse events.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, however, uses hormones identical to those naturally produced by the human body so women can experience fewer to no side effects. The formula used to make BHRT is customized and tailored for each individual person so women can receive the exact amount of hormones needed to benefit from reduced menopause symptoms and improved overall health and quality of life. Talk to your doctor about the best hormone therapy for you based on your medical history and lifestyle so you can enjoy the later years of your life to their fullest with a reduced risk of health problems.
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