The medications used for hormone replacement therapy have female hormones in them. You take the drug to replace the lost estrogen caused by menopause. Hot flashes and vaginal soreness are two common menopausal symptoms most frequently treated with hormone therapy.
To treat menopause symptoms, hormone therapy (HT) is required. Your decision to use hormone therapy may be influenced by your age, medical history, family medical history, plus the severity of your menopausal symptoms.
Discover the advantages and disadvantages of HT, its various forms, and other available alternatives below.
What Is Hormone Therapy (HT)?
Your ovaries stop producing large amounts of estrogen and progesterone as you approach menopause. These hormone levels can fluctuate, resulting in uncomfortable feelings. Typical signs of menopause include:
- Hot flashes.
- Cold flashes and night sweats.
- Discomfort during sex– dry vagina.
- Having the desire to urinate (urinary urgency).
- Difficulty sleeping (insomnia).
- Fluctuations in mood, a slight sadness, or impatience.
- Dry tongue, dry eyes, or dry skin
Hormone therapy can raise your hormone levels and alleviate certain menopause symptoms.
Types Of Hormone Therapy (HT)
Currently, there are two main types of hormone therapy (HT):
Estrogen Therapy: Estrogen is taken alone. Doctors will prescribe a low dose of estrogen as a pill or patch daily. Physicians can also prescribe estrogen as a cream, vaginal ring, gel, or spray. Your doctor will advise taking the lowest dose of estrogen needed to relieve menopause symptoms and prevent osteoporosis.
Estrogen Progesterone/Progestin Hormone Therapy (EPT): This type of hormone therapy is also known as combination therapy. It combines doses of estrogen and progesterone (or progestin, a synthetic form of progesterone).
So what are estrogen and progesterone?
What Does Estrogen Do?
Estrogen affects a variety of bodily processes, such as:
- Increases the thickness of your uterus’ lining, putting it in position for the potential implantation of a fertilized egg.
- It affects how your body uses calcium, a key nutrient for growing bones.
- Aids in preventing osteoporosis.
- Maintains optimum levels of blood cholesterol.
- Beneficial for a healthy vagina.
What Does Progesterone Do?
Progesterone impacts multiple body functions, including:
- Aids in preparing your uterus for the implantation of a fertilized egg and pregnancy maintenance.
- Control blood pressure.
- Stimulates the development of the glands in the breasts, which are responsible for milk production.
- Enhances sleep and mood.
- Stops the muscular contractions in the fallopian tubes once the egg has been transported after ovulation.
The Benefits Of Hormone Therapy (HT)
Doctors use Hormone therapy (HT) to relieve menopausal symptoms, including:
- Flashes of heat.
- Painful intercourse may occur from vaginal dryness.
- Night sweats and dry, itchy skin are two more menopause side effects that can be problematic.
Other health benefits of taking HT include:
- Lower chance of breaking a bone and reduced likelihood of developing osteoporosis.
- Several women report improved mood and a general sense of mental wellness.
- Fewer cases of tooth loss
- Reducing the likelihood of colon cancer.
- Less risk of developing diabetes.
- Mild reduction in joint pain.
- Women who start hormone therapy in their 50s have a lower mortality rate.
Risks Of Taking Hormone Therapy (HT)
While hormone therapy (HT) aids many women through menopause, it carries some risks, much like any prescription or over-the-counter medication. Known health dangers of HT include:
- An increased risk of endometrial cancer, but only if you still have your uterus and are not taking progestin and estrogen.
- Increased risk of blood clots and stroke.
- Increased chance of gallbladder/gallstone problems.
- Increased risk of dementia if you start hormone therapy after midlife. HT, begun during midlife, is also associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Increased risk of breast cancer– with long-term use.
Weighing Benefits And Risks
A single approach cannot achieve the best potential quality of life throughout menopause. Every woman is different and must balance her discomfort with her fear of getting treated. Risk is the potential or likelihood of harm; it does not imply that harm will happen.
In general, HT risks in younger women are lower than those for women aged 50 to 70. It is now thought that women who have undergone hysterectomy and are taking estrogen alone have a better benefit-risk profile than those receiving EPT.
Compared to older women, this is true for younger menopausal women (those in their 50s or within 10 years of menopause). With more studies, medical practitioners’ perspectives on the function of hormones have changed. However, experts concur that there is still plenty to learn.
Recent studies have helped populations by providing some clarity, but they may not fully address each woman’s problems. So, a woman’s decision to utilize a specific hormone product will be influenced by various factors, including her age, risks, preferences, available treatment options, and the cost of the medicine.
A woman can choose the optimal course of treatment only after thoroughly analyzing and comprehending her particular circumstances and after extensive discussion with her doctor. Re-evaluation and modifications should be undertaken when new treatments and recommendations become available and as a woman’s body changes over time.
Who Shouldn’t Take Hormone Therapy (HT)?
Hormone therapy (HT) is not recommended if you:
- Have or had endometrial or breast cancer.
- Experience unusual vaginal bleeding.
- Can get blood clots or have had one.
- A higher risk of vascular disease is due to a history of a heart attack, stroke, or both.
- Suspect or know you are pregnant.
- A liver condition.
You can take hormone therapy for as long as you choose. However, a good doctor will recommend the smallest amount of hormone therapy that is effective for you.
During this time, continue routine monitoring with your healthcare practitioner so that you can review your treatment strategy annually. In addition, consult your doctor if you experience a new medical problem while using HT to determine if it is still safe to use it.
Talk to your healthcare physician about whether HT therapy suits your situation when in doubt. Remember, taking HT has various advantages and risks for your health. Ensure you understand them before making a decision.
Our clinic is a great place to get information and guidance on Hormone Therapy. Visit or contact us with questions on this and other topics.