Female hormones are contained in hormone replacement therapy. During menopause, your body stops making estrogen, so you take the medication to replace that. There are many symptoms associated with menopause, especially hot flashes and vaginal discomfort. One of the most common ways to treat these symptoms is hormone therapy.
Postmenopausal women can also benefit from hormone therapy because it reduces bone loss and fractures.
It is important to keep in mind that hormone therapy does carry some risks. Risks associated with hormone therapy are determined by the type, dose, length of treatment and your own health risks, as well as the type of medication used. In order to achieve the best results, hormone therapy should be tailored according to each individual and reevaluated periodically to ensure that the benefits continue to outweigh the risks.
Also read: Hormone replacement therapy in Houston
How can hormone therapy be classified?
As the name suggests, hormone replacement therapy relies primarily on replacing the estrogen that has stopped being produced by the body after menopause.
Estrogen therapy is divided into two types:
- Systemic hormone therapy. As opposed to oral estrogen, systemic estrogen – which is present in the form of pills, patches, rings, gel, cream, or spray – contains a higher quantity of estrogen and is quickly absorbed through the body. Menopause symptoms can be treated with it.
- Low-dose vaginal products. Low-dose vaginal estrogen preparations, such as creams, tablets, and rings, minimize estrogen absorption by the body. As a consequence, low-dose vaginal preparations are generally used only to treat menopausal symptoms in the vaginal arena.
A woman who has not had her uterus removed may be prescribed estrogen, progesterone, or progestin (a medication that acts like progesterone), in combination with estrogen. A woman who lacks progesterone can increase her risk of endometrial cancer when estrogen only is present, which can stimulate growth of the uterine lining in the absence of progesterone. It is possible that you do not need to take progestin after undergoing hysterectomy (removal of the uterus).
What are the benefits of hormone therapy?
When you are healthy and able to: hormone therapy may outweigh the risks.
- Hot flashes range from mild to severe. There are several ways to relieve troublesome menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats, but systemic estrogen therapy is the most effective treatment.
- Menopause-related symptoms are present. During menopause, estrogen can relieve vaginal symptoms such as dryness, itchiness, burning, and discomfort that often accompany sexual activity.
- Fractures and bone loss need to be prevented. It has been demonstrated that systemic estrogen is helpful in protecting against the thinning of the bones caused by osteoporosis. In order to treat osteoporosis, doctors usually recommend the use of medications known as bisphosphonates. If you cannot tolerate other treatments or are not benefitting from them, estrogen therapy may help.
- Have estrogen deficiency or early menopause. If you had your ovaries removed in a surgical procedure before you were 45, or if you stopped having periods before you were 45 years old (premature or early menopause), or if you lost normal ovarian function before 40 years old (primary ovarian insufficiency), your body has been exposed to less estrogen than the body of a woman who experiences typical menopause. There are many health conditions which can be reduced or avoided by estrogen therapy, including osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, dementia and mood changes.
Hormone therapy isn’t always good or bad
Talk to your doctor about your individual symptoms and health risks to determine whether hormone therapy is the best treatment option for you. As your menopausal years progress, be sure to continue the conversation.
Research into hormone therapy and other menopausal treatments will likely lead to changes in recommendations. Discuss treatment options with your doctor regularly if you continue to suffer from bothersome menopausal symptoms.