During menopause, the body stops making as many hormones as it did when the woman was pregnant. This drop in hormones can cause unpleasant side effects like hot flashes, dryness in the genital area, and night sweats. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is a way to treat these symptoms with pills that replace the hormones, usually estrogen and progesterone/progestin, that the body stops making naturally during menopause. HRT is also often used as a good way to avoid getting osteoporosis (bone thinning).
A Quick Look at HRT
In the 1940s, the Food and Drug Administration approved Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) as a way to treat menopausal symptoms. For many years after that, HRT was a common treatment for women going through menopause. People also thought that HRT had other health benefits, like lowering the chances of getting heart disease or dementia.
Unfortunately, later clinical trials showed that even though HRT made menopause symptoms less severe, it also posed other serious health risks, especially for older women. So, hormone replacement therapy isn’t given to as many menopausal women as it used to be, and it’s not recommended for long-term use or as a general way to keep from getting sick. But HRT still has a lot of good things about it, and some women should think about it if their menopause symptoms are very bad or if they have certain health problems.
Different kinds of HRT
There are two main kinds of Hormone Replacement Therapy: low-dose vaginal preparations and systemic hormone therapy.
Systemic hormone therapy comes in the form of a pill, gel, spray, or skin patch. It has been shown to be an effective way to treat most of the side effects of menopause, such as hot flashes and night sweats.
Low-dose estrogen vaginal preparations come in the form of creams, vaginal rings, or suppositories. They help with vaginal symptoms like dryness, burning, itching, discomfort during sexual activity, and some urinary tract problems. Low-dose vaginal products have an advantage over systemic hormone therapy in that they are not absorbed by the body. However, they do not help with hot flashes or night sweats, and this method does not protect against osteoporosis.
Hormone replacement therapy with bioidentical hormones (BHRT)
Bioidentical hormones are hormones used in medicine that are chemically the same as the hormones a person makes themselves. Most of the time, saliva samples are used to make them. But the hormone levels in a person’s saliva may not be the same as the levels in their blood, and they may not be at the right level to treat menopausal symptoms. Also, BHRT might help some women with their menopause symptoms, but it comes with the same risks as traditional HRT.
Hormone replacement therapy has many benefits.
Hormone Replacement Therapy is a good way to help women who are having severe menopause symptoms or who are going through menopause before they turn 40 because of a medical condition. Systemic hormone therapy is also a good way to treat osteoporosis in women, especially if they can’t take other drugs to stop bone loss or if other treatments haven’t worked.
Safety Concerns About HRT
There are many good things about HRT, but it also has risks. Most women shouldn’t use systemic hormone therapy for a long time, and studies have shown that HRT can increase the risk of stroke, blood clots, heart disease, weight gain, and some types of breast cancer.
How dangerous HRT depends on what kind of therapy is given and for how long. Low-dose vaginal products don’t work as well for all menopause symptoms, but because the hormones aren’t absorbed by the body, this method doesn’t pose as many health risks as other treatments. Also, there is evidence from some clinical trials that estrogen-only therapies like Premarin may not make the risk of heart disease higher.
The health risks of medical intervention are always concerning and should be taken seriously, but in some cases, the benefits are greater than the risks. HRT can help women who are going through early menopause or who have had a hysterectomy (the removal of the uterus) and/or oophorectomy (the removal of the ovaries) avoid bone loss, depression, and heart disease.
The best people for HRT
Hormone Replacement Therapy is a choice that should be made on a case-by-case basis. The current symptoms, age, and medical and family history of a woman should be taken into account when deciding if HRT is the right thing to do and, if so, which kind of treatment will be the most helpful with the least risk.
If a woman wants to try Hormone Replacement Therapy, she should talk to her gynecologist and think carefully about which option would be best for her. HRT may not be the all-purpose cure that older generations thought it was, but it can still help women who are going through menopause or have other health problems.
Contact Lasting Impression today at (201) 228-0971 if you have any questions about hormone replacement therapy.