For years, doctors prescribed hormone replacement therapy HRT for menopausal symptoms, hormonal imbalance, and menopause. This therapy was also given to lower the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis.
If you’re wondering what HRT is, whom it’s meant for, and when it should be used, read on to find out answers to these questions.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy is used to alter one’s natural hormone levels. This treatment can be recommended in the form of an estrogen-only therapy for women who’ve had a hysterectomy or are a breast cancer risk. It can also be given as a progesterone and estrogen therapy for women who experience menopause normally at midlife.
Why Should You Replace Hormones?
Estrogen and progesterone play different functions in your body. Apart from preserving healthy cholesterol levels, these hormones help to process calcium and keep your vagina healthy. But when you go through menopause, the quantity of these hormones drops sharply. This may lead to symptoms such as sleep problems, mood swings, hot flushes, sweating at night, and vaginal dryness. What’s more, you have an increased chance of suffering from osteoporosis.
Hormone replacement therapy helps to replenish your body’s estrogen supply. It can also relieve menopausal symptoms and prevent the occurrence of osteoporosis. HRT may also reduce any risk of cataracts, diabetes, and tooth loss. HRT can be administered through the skin, orally in form of tablets, or through the vagina.
When Is the Best Time to Begin HT?
The best time to start the hormone treatment is when both you and the doctor have decided it as a treatment option. For some women, menopause is manageable and only experience mild symptoms while for others, insomnia, hot flushes, and vaginal dryness are difficult to manage and require medical attention.
HRT should be initiated as soon as these symptoms begin in order to achieve the best outcome. Short-term use isn’t considered dangerous although most physicians recommend a discontinuity when one no longer needs to control the symptoms.
Instances When Estrogen/Progesterone Therapy is Appropriate
A combination of estrogen and progesterone should be given to women who have not undergone a hysterectomy. If you are going through menopause naturally, taking an estrogen-only therapy could increase your risk of developing cancer of the endometrium.
This happens because the endometrial cells are expelled during the menstrual cycle. When menstruation stops, the endometrium stays in place. Adding estrogen may lead to the growth of uterine cells, leading to cancer. Including progesterone reduces your risk of getting endometrial cancer as it helps shed the endometrium every month.
Instances When Estrogen Therapy Alone is Appropriate
An estrogen-only therapy is prescribed for women who’ve undergone hysterectomy or a surgical menopause.
Who Should Consider Hormone Therapy?
You should consider HRT if you:
- Experience menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, sweating, and mood swings
- Have lost bone mass and you’re not benefitting from other treatments
- Have stopped having periods before you’re 40
- Are at an increased risk of osteoporosis
- Have tissue changes and vaginal dryness that make sex uncomfortable
Who Shouldn’t Take Hormone Therapy
HRT is not recommended for women who have:
- A history of strokes
- Suspected or known pregnancy
- Past or active breast cancer
- Vaginal bleeding that is considered abnormal
- Active or recurrent endometrial cancer
- Recurring blood clots
Risks of Taking Hormone Replacement Therapy
Although HRT may be beneficial to women going through menopause, it’s not risk-free just like any prescription. Some of the known health risks include:
- Increased chances of suffering from gallstone problems
- Increased risk of stroke and blood clots
- Risk of endometrial cancer
- An increased risk of dementia if you started HRT when you’ve been in menopause for 10 years
- Nausea, headache, and indigestion
Quick Facts about Hormone Replacement Therapy
- Hormone therapy can be customized to meet your needs and symptoms
You can find hormonal treatment in different forms. A low-dose of estrogen can be delivered directly to the vagina using rings, creams, or tablets. Estrogen can also be delivered to the entire body through creams, pills, sprays, and even gels. Hormone therapy is individualized, meaning that you could be put on a different schedule and prescribed a different dose.
- Hormone therapy can be taken in your perimenopause
Some women experience menopausal symptoms before it actually happens. The stage where a woman is still menstruating but her body can’t handle childbearing is known as perimenopause. You don’t need saliva or blood tests to start hormonal therapy
There are no tests carried out to check your hormonal levels before you can be given the green light to go for hormone therapy. This is because some symptoms associated with thyroid problems may mimic menopausal symptoms. The doctor will only test your thyroid function and levels of follicle stimulating hormone to determine whether your ovaries are functioning as expected.
- Standard prescription hormone therapy is the safest form
This type of prescription has been tested and approved by the FDA. Moreover, the doses are consistent and it’s manufactured in a highly regulated manner.
- Choosing an experienced physician is essential
A qualified and experienced physician is able to assess your needs and use the right therapy to handle the symptoms. You need someone who can evaluate your condition to determine whether hormone therapy would be the right fit. Choose someone you can be honest and comfortable with to make the process easier.
How Can You Know if HRT is Right For You?
Hormone replacement therapy is an excellent treatment option if you’re experiencing difficult symptoms of menopause. Most experts believe the benefits of hormone therapy outweigh the risks. The benefits vs. risks of hormone replacement therapy are different for each woman depending on one’s personal medical history, family history, and age.
For you to determine whether HRT is right for you, you need to visit a doctor to discuss the risks and benefits. If you would like to learn more about hormone therapy, email us today and we will gladly contact you and answer any queries you may have.