Menopause is a natural biological process that all women go through, but dealing with the symptoms that accompany the decreasing hormone levels can sometimes be difficult to bear. From hot flashes and mood swings to decreased libido and depression, many women desperately start to wonder if there is anything they can do to find relief! Fortunately, Women’s Healthcare Associates may have just the treatment to bring those irritating side effects under control: hormone replacement therapy.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can make a big difference in your life because it counteracts menopause (or the male equivalent, andropause) symptoms by replacing the diminishing hormones in a natural way. Both synthetic and bio-identical hormones can be used in HRT, and common treatment methods include oral medications, patches or gels that go on your skin, and pellets implanted underneath your skin. At Women’s Healthcare Associates, many of our patients are delighted by how HRT has helped them balance their hormones, but HRT is not without risks. Here are some things you should consider before deciding if HRT is right for you.
Hormone replacement therapy is the most effective and least risky if you are under 60 years of age and start it just before or soon after you begin menopause. Starting hormone therapy at this time can lower your chances of heart and brain issues and prevent bone loss. However, women over 60 are at an increased risk of heart disease, blood clots, dementia, and stroke.
Hormone replacement therapy is not for everyone, so if you a history of any of the following conditions, you should not use HRT:
- Heart problems
- Blood clots
- Breast, ovarian, or endometrial cancer
If you are a smoker, you cannot use HRT because of the substantially higher risk of blood clots and other health issues.
If your menopause symptoms are light or nonexistent, then there is no need for HRT. However, if you are experiencing uncomfortable hot flashes, restless nights, depression, or decreased libido, then HRT can provide you with some much-needed relief!
Have you already tried other options to help relieve your symptoms? If a simple lubricant will cure your vaginal dryness or an antidepressant can lighten your mood, then HRT may not be necessary. Cognitive behavioral therapy and hypnosis can also help relieve symptoms. Whatever treatment you decide to use for your hormone deficiency, please make sure it is FDA-approved like traditional HRT.
Just like all medications, HRT does come with certain risk factors. HRT containing estrogen and progestin can slightly increase your risk for breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, and deep vein thrombosis, especially in women over 60. However, these risks are lower for women under 60, who go through menopause early, or who use bio-identical, rather than synthetic, HRT.
Though there are risks involved with HRT, it is still the best way to find relief from severe menopause symptoms, which is why our patients love it so much! You should discuss the risks and benefits that would affect you specifically with one of the amazing doctors at Women’s Healthcare Associates. We will help you determine which path is best for you, so you can get back to enjoying life!