Hormone Replacement Therapy in Menopause
Menopause can be a wonderful time in a woman's life. But it can also be rough time. With hot flashes, insomnia, night sweats, and mood swings, menopausal women may not know whether they are coming or going. If you are starting to feel the heat of menopause, there is no need to suffer needlessly. Hormone replacement therapy is one of the most popular treatment choices for menopausal women. Read on to find out if hormone replacement therapy is the appropriate choice for you.
What is Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Hormone replacement therapy, or HRT for short, is a highly popular medical regimen used to help reduce the symptoms of menopause. Natural hormone replacement therapy is currently used by more than 10 million American women and has become one of the fastest growing menopause treatments ever. Many women find that hormone replacement therapy drastically reduces their menopause symptoms, helping them to enjoy life again.
Hormone replacement therapy involves putting back those hormones that your body loses during menopause. During menopause, your ovaries gradually produce less estrogen, the female sex hormone that stimulates ovulation. Levels of progesterone, another female sex hormone, also begin to drop. It is this drop in hormones that seems to cause the nasty symptoms associated with menopause. HRT gives your body an artificial supply of estrogen and progesterone, allowing your body to function with fewer menopause symptoms.
Types of Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy can be used in a variety of combinations to suit your individual needs, symptoms, and health concerns.
Estrogen and Progesterone: The most common type of HRT involves both estrogen and progesterone. More than 8 million women are currently taking combination HRT and it is designed specifically for women who have a uterus. During this therapy, estrogen is given regularly, while progesterone is added in on a supplementary basis. Estrogens used in hormone replacement therapy are all naturally sourced. Progesterone, though, is artificially created and is called progestin. These two hormones are given in combination in order to prevent the overgrowth of your uterine lining. Estrogen alone may irritate this lining, which could lead to endometrial cancer.
Estrogen Only: Estrogen therapy alone is usually given to women who have lost their uterus due to surgical menopause. Because no uterus is present, the need for progesterone is not as great. Instead, regular courses of estrogen are supplied.
Progestin Only: Progestin-only therapy is not prescribed very often. Progestin does seem to provide excellent relief for women plagued with hot flashes, though.
Advantages of HRT
Hormone replacement therapy can provide a number of benefits. These benefits do not come without drawbacks though, so you must carefully weigh your decision with a doctor, before committing to HRT.
Effects of HRT are widespread. Hormone replacement therapy is excellent for reducing the symptoms of menopause, including: insomnia, fatigue, depression, incontinence, and vaginal dryness. HRT can also significantly reduce the number and intensity of the hot flashes and night sweats that you experience.
Estrogen in hormone replacement therapy can also help plump up your skin, improve your sleep, and give you a better outlook on life. It lubricates your vagina and tightens your pelvic muscles, limiting incontinence. An added benefit of hormone replacement therapy is the reduction of your risk of developing osteoporosis. Plant estrogen is excellent at building up bone mass in your body, making your bones stronger. In fact, studies have shown that within five years, HRT can reduce the incidence of bone fractures by up to 80%.
Disadvantages of Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy was once thought of as the be all and end all to menopause. However, recent studies have shown that hormone replacement therapy may in fact be more dangerous than it is beneficial. HRT was once prescribed to prevent illnesses associated with menopausal women, including heart disease, breast cancer, and dementia. After a long-term study by the Women's Health Initiative, it was discovered that hormone therapy actually increased a woman's risk of many of these diseases. Since these discoveries, HRT has been cast in a negative light.
The Women's Health Initiative reported increased risks in women taking estrogen and estrogen/progestin therapies over long periods. Estrogen is known to stimulate cell division, and this seems to increase you risk of breast cancer by up to 9%. HRT also appears to increase your risk of heart disease by 24%. Women taking HRT to reduce their risk of Alzheimer's disease actually increased their risk by a small percentage. It is now recommended that women do not take hormones to safeguard against potential diseases. In order to prevent increasing your risk of certain diseases, it is suggested that you use HRT for no more than five years.
Deciding on Hormone Replacement Therapy
Choosing hormone replacement therapy is a difficult decision for many women. The risks associated with the treatments may outweigh the possible benefits of HRT, and this must be carefully considered. Hormone replacement therapy is recommended if you are facing moderate to serious symptoms or if you have undergone surgical menopause. HRT should only be taken for a short period of time (less than 5 years) and at the lowest effective dosage. If you follow your doctor's advice and raise your own awareness, HRT could be a beneficial choice for you.