1.3 million women in America become menopausal every year. This isn’t surprising in itself. After all, menopause is a natural phenomenon that all women will experience at some point in their lives.
But menopause comes with some unpleasant side effects. In fact, 22% of women suffering from menopause symptoms said they couldn’t cope with them without medical assistance.
Fortunately, you don’t have to go through the four years or so of menopause alone. Hormone replacement therapy for women effectively reduces the symptoms of menopause. So you can carry on enjoying life.
If this sounds like an option for you, then you need to know as much possible about what hormone therapy can offer. Not all women are able to use hormone therapy.
So find out if you can by reading this helpful guide to hormone therapy for women.
What Happens During Menopause?
Menopause is a natural phenomenon that happens as a woman gets older.
It usually occurs between the age of 45 and 55. But 1 in 100 women experiences premature menopause. This is when menopause happens before the age of 40.
A decline in estrogen levels brings on menopause. This change in hormone levels causes a change in your body. The biggest change is that you are no longer able to conceive naturally.
There are three stages to menopause.
Perimenopause starts when the symptoms of menopause do. It lasts 1 year and finishes on the anniversary of your final period.
This marks the confirmation of menopause. The length of menopause varies depending on the person.
On average the symptoms will last about four years dating from your final period. But they do tend to decrease in intensity towards the end of menopause.
Postmenopause is the name for all the years following the menopause. Symptoms from menopause shouldn’t extend too far into postmenopause. If you are postmenopausal and still getting symptoms, you should see your doctor.
Symptoms of Menopause
During menopause, your hormone levels may fluctuate dramatically. Hormone imbalances can have a big impact on your life.
This means you might experience different side effects at different times. And they might be worse or better at different times.
The most common symptoms include night sweats, hot flashes, and difficulty sleeping. These symptoms, otherwise known as vasomotor symptoms, affect around 75% of menopausal women.
60% of women find that menopause affects their genital function. This includes a decline in libido and vaginal dryness.
45% find it creates fluctuations in their moods. At times they will be irritable or angry and at others, they might feel anxious or depressed. This also means that menopause can lead to a drop in self-esteem.
Other symptoms of the menopause include:
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering things
- Weight gain
- Thinner hair
- Urinary problems
- Bone thinning or osteoporosis
- Physical changes such as a reduction in breast size
None of these are very pleasant to live with. It is both a physical and an emotionally challenging time. But some symptoms, like osteoporosis, actually have more severe medical implications.
So it’s important to speak to a medical professional if these symptoms don’t get better or start to get worse. In the meantime, hormone replacement treatment can alleviate the symptoms of menopause.
What is Hormone Therapy (HRT)?
Hormone replacement therapy helps to maintain your hormone balance. This is helpful if you’re going through perimenopause, menopause or post-menopause. It can effectively relieve the symptoms of menopause.
There are several different types of HRT. The right one for you depends on individual reaction to menopause and medical history.
Different Types of Hormone Therapy
There are two main types of hormone therapy treatments: estrogen-only and combined.
The estrogen-only therapy is just that. Doses of estrogen which help to control the reduction in your body’s estrogen levels.
This is suitable for women who have had a hysterectomy. This means they’ve had their uterus and ovaries removed.
Combined hormone therapy delivers a combination of estrogen and progesterone. The progesterone is there to protect your uterus. This prevents large amounts of estrogen from causing uterine cancer.
Doctors deliver these doses of hormones in two different ways.
They might circulate the hormones in your system using systemic products. This means the hormones enter your bloodstream and can reach all the way through your body.
Or they might suggest a localized treatment. This targets specific areas of the body that menopause has affected. This treatment is often a topical one that directly addresses the affected area.
How Does HRT Work?
Hormone replacement therapy uses estrogen and progesterone to balance out your body’s hormones.
This counteracts some of the effects of menopause. Or it helps to reduce them so they’re less invasive for you. It won’t reverse the menopause, it’ll just make it more manageable to go through.
A doctor will administer hormone replacement therapy in a way that suits you. There are several ways to deliver the hormones. These include:
- creams or gels
- skin patches
- vaginal rings
You can choose which one works for you.
Your cycle of hormone doses will depend on your menopause. Some people will receive one dose at the end of the 28-day cycle. Others may have more frequent dosages, every fortnight or even daily.
Your doctor will also aim to give you the lowest dose possible to alleviate your symptoms. This might mean it takes some time to find the correct dose. But it also means you won’t expose yourself to excessive levels of hormones.
After using HRT for some time your doctor will lower your dosage. This means you can fade out your use of HRT without a dramatic change in your body.
Benefits of Hormone Therapy for Women
Hormone therapy for women is the most effective way to treat the symptoms of menopause.
Low doses are great for treating vaginal dryness and urinary problems. While higher doses can help to combat hot flashes and night sweats. This means you can pass through the menopause without major disruption to your life.
Hormone treatment can also manage the external effects of aging. It helps to keep your skin looking younger and more vibrant. So you can look and feel great.
But hormone replacement treatment isn’t just about how you look and feel. It also brings long term health benefits.
A big one of these is preventing osteoporosis. This happens when your bones start thinning, which is a symptom of the menopause.
As your bones become thinner they also get more brittle and weaker. This means they’re easier to damage or break as you get older. Avoiding osteoporosis means avoiding hospital stays or periods of recovery in the future.
The health benefits particularly affect anyone who goes through early menopause. And anyone who has had their ovaries removed also benefits. Those who don’t have estrogen therapy before the age of 45 are more likely to suffer from:
- Heart disease
- Parkinsonism (symptoms of Parkinson’s disease without the disease developing)
- Anxiety and depression
So hormone replacement therapy especially benefits anyone who goes through the menopause prematurely.
Who Is Hormonal Replacement For?
Unfortunately, not all women can undergo hormone replacement therapy. So it’s important to discuss any of these issues with your doctor before starting a course of treatment.
Your medical history might mean that HRT is not suitable for you. This is because when it combines with these medical issues it can become dangerous for your health. Women who can’t have HRT have a medical history including:
- blood clots or thrombosis
- high blood pressure (otherwise known as hypotension)
- heart disease
- severe migraines
- ovarian, breast or endometrial cancer
Anyone who is, or might be, pregnant shouldn’t undergo hormone replacement therapy.
You also shouldn’t use HRT for a long period of time. Some studies show that using it for over 5 years can increase your risk of breast cancer. So if you start seeing a new physician during your treatment, make sure they know how long you’ve been on your dose for.
Where Can You Get Hormone Replacement Therapy for Women?
Medical and wellness centers are perfect places to receive hormone replacement therapy.
This is a medical procedure so a doctor needs to administer it and prescribe your dosage. They will be able to assess you on an individual basis.
In order to assess you accurately, they will need your full medical history. If you have any concerns about your treatment, this is a good moment to voice them.
Different practices use different ways to deliver the hormone doses.
So if there’s something you’d prefer it’s important to check that the facility provides them. If you don’t like needles, you don’t want to find that you can only get your dose through injections!
Some clinics also offer different types of hormones. Some clinics use synthetic hormones while others use bioidentical hormones.
Traditional hormone replacement therapy uses synthetically grown hormones. However, a lot of clinics now use bioidentical hormones.
Bioidentical hormones duplicate the hormones in your own body. Unlike synthetic hormones, they match perfectly with your body’s natural hormones because they are all natural. This means you know they won’t upset your body’s balance and people experience less severe side effects than synthetic hormones.
One of the most popular bioidentical hormone replacements is bioTE. Doctors deliver this plant-based hormone in pellet form. The pellet implants just underneath your skin so it can release gradually rather than in one big hormone hit! Assure Wellness specializes in BioTE.
This means you can enjoy an outpatient procedure and return to your daily activities quickly. At the same time, you’ll reap the benefits of your body returning to its natural hormonal balance.
You start to feel the benefits of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy seven to ten days after your first implant. This means you can soon start to shake off some of the worst side effects of menopause.
What to Expect at a Hormone Replacement Session
Your hormone replacement sessions will depend on the physician that sees you.
Determining what sort of hormone replacement therapy you need is a great place to start. So you will have to provide your medical history and details of any current symptoms. Nurses will carry out a blood test to check your blood hormone levels.
Based on this, you will have a private consultation with a physician. This gives you the chance to sit down and discuss your symptoms in person. This means you can address certain issues that you might want to resolve.
For example, you might be most bothered by the urinary symptoms of menopause. In this case, your doctor will prescribe a dose of hormones to target this. This would be lower than a dose aimed to target night sweats, for example.
Your doctor will also check through your medical history at this point. It’s important to be honest about any underlying conditions or family medical history. This ensures the doctor can treat you safely.
Your consultation will probably be the longest session you have at the clinic.
Once you know what treatment you’re having then you’re good to go! A member of the medical staff will deliver your hormone treatment.
Then you just have to turn up for any subsequent appointments. Or if you’re on a course of treatments you’ll go back in for more when needed.
Weight Gain During HRT
A big fear a lot of women have when getting hormone replacement treatment is that it might lead to weight gain. However, weight gain is often a side effect of menopause. So HRT might not actually cause it.
As your hormones level change your body redistributes its fat. Lower estrogen levels can also lead to an increase in appetite. So sometimes you’ll find yourself eating more during menopause.
To combat this it’s important to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regime during menopause. This is great if you’re concerned about weight gain or are looking to shift some postmenopause weight. Or you can check out more weight loss options here.
The Bottom Line
Hormone replacement therapy for women can help you tackle some of the toughest symptoms of menopause. And it can combat the symptoms that might have long-lasting medical implications.
Great options for treatment are available for women who are menopausal. It can also help those who are perimenopausal or postmenopausal.