Hormone Replacement Therapy for menopause
A variety of hormones control a lot of basic bodily functions. They’re a type of internal communication system between cells and the rest of the body. Coordinating everything from digestion, body growth, appetite, immune function and more, the body’s hormones are vital for maintaining a “normal” balance. Which means when certain hormones are out of balance, it can have a big impact on health and mental wellbeing.
When this type of imbalance occurs, some people find hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help alleviate the symptoms. Here are some key points about this type of HRT:
- Hormone replacement therapy offers relief for perimenopause and menopause symptoms.
- HRT can reduce how often and how severe symptoms like hot flashes are, and can reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
- It may help to keep your skin looking young.
HRT for menopause
Many women turn to hormone replacement when they hit a certain milestone. Hormones such as progesterone and estrogen are important hormones in a woman’s reproductive system. Estrogen stimulates the release of eggs, and progesterone prepares the womb for egg implantation.
However, the supply of eggs naturally diminishes over time as women age. And, when the number of eggs starts to decline, so does estrogen production in the body.
These changes typically happen during the late 40s, and can lead to hot flashes and other problems.
What types of menopause can HRT treat?
Perimenopause starts a few years before “official” menopause, and signals the time when the ovaries gradually start to produce less estrogen. It typically begins in the 40s, but has been known to start in the 30s or, in rare cases, earlier. Perimenopause lasts right up until menopause, when the ovaries stop releasing eggs altogether.
Menopause occurs when a woman’s last period occurs, typically at an average age of 51 years.
Menopause ends one full year after the last period , indicating the postmenopausal stage. Symptoms of this stage normally decline within a few years, but can take 10 years or more.
To counter the effects of hormone loss during estrogen, medical professionals typically suggest low doses of estrogen, which is prescribed in a few different forms.
Estrogen pill — Pills are the most common treatment for menopausal symptoms. Most pills for estrogen are taken once a day without food.
Estrogen patch — An estrogen patch is applied to the skin (most often on the abdomen), and are replaced every few days or worn for a week.
Topical estrogen – Estrogen creams, gels and sprays can also be used to get estrogen into the system. This type of estrogen treatment is absorbed through the skin directly into the bloodstream, and are typically applied once a day.
Vaginal estrogen — Vaginal estrogen comes in a cream, vaginal ring or vaginal estrogen tablet form. These types of treatments are for women who experience vaginal dryness, itchiness, and burning or pain during intercourse.
What are the benefits of menopausal hormone therapy?
There are many benefits of HRT for menopause for many women. Some of these benefits include:
- Fewer hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness
- Lessening the effects of poor sleep, irritability and “brain fog”
- Relief from vaginal symptoms like thinning tissue, dryness or painful intercourse
- Easing an overactive bladder and possibly even recurring UTIs
- Help preventing bone fractures later in life
- Lowering your risk of heart disease
- A lowered risk of developing type 2 diabetes