Menopause is an irreversible and unavoidable medical condition affecting women aged 40 to 50 years old. This condition is a natural decline in reproductive hormones affecting more than 3 million women in America each year. Below you will learn more about hormone replacement therapy and how it has been proven to help women experiencing menopause symptoms.
What is menopause?
Menopause is the point in a woman’s life that marks the end of their menstrual cycle. It is diagnosed after 12 months without a period. Studies have shown the average age a woman can expect to go through menopause is approximately 51 years old.
Menopause is a natural biological process accompanied by a number of symptoms, most commonly:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Decreased libido
- Mood swings
- Weight gain
- Thinning, dry hair
- Sleep disturbances
- Aches and pains
- Urinary incontinence
Not only is menopause a naturally occurring biological process women are subjected to, but it is also the result of an oophorectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
Hormone replacement therapy
Hormone replacement therapy is a form of medication containing female hormones that came about in the 1960s, becoming increasingly more popular in the 1990s. It is routinely prescribed to women to replace the estrogen your body naturally stops making during menopause.
Types of hormone replacement therapy
There are two commonly used types of hormone therapy that come in multiple forms.
1) Systemic hormone therapy
Commonly known as systemic estrogen, systemic hormone therapy is designed to help women suffering through just about all menopause symptoms. Systemic hormone therapy can be prescribed in many forms including a pill, skin patch, ring, gel, cream, or spray. It is important to know that the spray form of systemic estrogen is often prescribed in a lower dose than the other forms as it is absorbed throughout your entire body through the skin.
2) Low dose vaginal products
Low-dose vaginal products are given in the form of cream, tablets, or a ring. These are only used to treat vaginal and urinary symptoms that come along with menopause.
Benefits of hormone replacement therapy?
Women who are experiencing menopause symptoms such as moderate to severe hot flashes have reported benefiting from hormone replacement therapy. This form of medication can also help women who are looking to prevent bone loss or fractures, are premenopausal, and suffer from an estrogen deficiency.
The transition into menopause can be hard on women leading to signs of depression. The use of estrogen skin patches has been known to help ease the symptoms that come along with this condition.
Side effects of hormone replacement therapy
Hormone replacement therapy comes with the risk of side effects such as:
- Mood changes
- Breast tenderness
- Vaginal bleeding
How do I know if hormone therapy is right for me?
Hormone replacement therapy may not be right for everyone. Each individual person should consult with their doctor. Women between the ages of 40 to 59 years old have reported a positive effect as a result of this medication.
Can anyone use hormone replacement therapy?
It is not recommended to use HRT for menopause symptoms if you:
- Think you are pregnant
- Have certain cancers
- Have or have had blood clots
- Have liver disease
- Have a history of smoking
- Have gallbladder disease
- Suffer from a seizure disorder
- Have high blood pressure, or hypertension
- Suffer from excess fat in your blood
If your doctor does not feel hormone replacement therapy is right for you, he/she can recommend an alternative.
It is important that you discuss with your doctor if the benefits of HRT outweigh the risk as this varies from person to person. Healthy, younger women suffering from menopause symptoms can benefit greatly from hormone replacement therapy tailored to their specific needs.
Contact Savannah Age Management Medicine at (912) 925-6911 for an appointment or to learn more about how HRT and menopause can benefit you.