Millions of women use Hormone Replacement Therapy to combat the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings.
Table of Content:
What is Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)?
Hormone Replacement Therapy in short HRT is also known as menopausal hormone therapy or postmenopausal hormone therapy.
Hormone replacement therapy is a form of treatment used to replace or restore female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone level in women during menopause.
These hormones are produced from the ovaries and execute some changes in the body’s cycle, which controls moods, periods, and may contribute to health and well-being.
During menopause, the ovaries fail to react to the hormones from the pituitary gland and hence stop producing these essential hormones.
This makes women face some uncomfortable symptoms like vaginal dryness, hot flashes, sleep apnea, acne, and headaches.
Hormone therapy is done to treat the typical menopausal symptoms, like vaginal discomfort and hot flashes. It also helps to stop bone loss and decrease the fracture rate in postmenopausal women.
When a female body fails to produce these essential hormones, the estrogen falls below the average level.
So this is a big challenge for all the women suffering from menopause because they can no longer be a mom naturally, and their menstrual cycle stops.
So, the two female hormones, estrogen, and progesterone play a prominent role in a woman’s body.
The central aim of HRT is to reinstitute female hormone levels back to normal, which can afford reassurance to many women suffering from menopause.
HRT can be of various types such as tablets, skin patches, gels, cream, pessaries, and rings.
You can have HRT medicine regularly without stopping, or it can be taken in sequence. But progesterone is to be taken every few weeks, whereas estrogen can be taken periodically.
Is HRT right for you?
A lab test or a doctor visit can help you to discover if hormone therapy is a good option for you.
Signs & Symptoms of Menopause
Here are the various symptoms that you will encounter during menopause:
- Night sweats
- Hot flashes and vaginal dryness
- The weakening of vaginal walls
- Vaginal and bladder infections
- Average urinary incontinence
- Aches and pains
- Insomnia and sleep perplexity (sleep apnea)
- Memory loss
- Low sexual desire (libido)
- Mood disorder
- Prickling or crawling under the skin
- Hair loss
- Dry and itchy eyes.
Who is acceptable for HRT?
Every woman who is suffering from menopause is acceptable for HRT.
But HRT may not be adequate for those who have the following issues — a record of breast cancer, ovarian cancer or womb cancer, blood clots, high blood pressure, and liver problem.
Depending on the risk factor and your health condition, you will be given the right medication and a better HRT option.
There are alternatives too for HRT in case your body is not ready for HRT.
What are the essential types of hormone therapy?
Hormone therapy fundamentally concentrates on restoring the estrogen that your body can no longer produce after menopause.
There are two principal varieties of hormone or estrogen therapy:
- Systemic hormone therapy
Systemic hormone therapy comes in gel, ring, skin patch, pill, cream, or spray form. These significantly comprise a more portion of estrogen that is grasped everywhere in the body.
It is used to manipulate any of the common symptoms of menopause.
- Low -dose vaginal products
These are the mixture of estrogen that is generally used to manipulate the vaginal and urinary symptoms of menopause.
The low-dose vaginal products come in a tablet, ring, and cream form.
Benefits of HRT
The primary advantages of taking HRT is that it can diminish most menopausal symptoms, such as:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Mood swings or mood disorder
- Low sex drive
- Bone loss
- Colon cancer
- HRT anticipates additional bone density loss
- Taking HRT during menopause diminishes a woman’s risk of evolving diabetes.
- Bowel cancer
- Cardiovascular disease
Most of these symptoms diminish after a few years of taking the therapy.
The risk or side effects of HRT
Different studies have suggested that risk varies depending on age, health history, and the type of hormone therapy. Here are some of them:
- Breast Cancer
- Heart attack
- Uterine cancer
- Cardiovascular disease
- Blood clots
- Breast cancer
- Vaginal bleeding
- Swelling of breast
- Mood swings
- Bloating (blood in your stool)
- Fluid retention (swelling of affected body parts)
- Feeling sick
When can hormone replacement therapy be used?
The therapy can be used as soon as you start enduring menopausal symptoms. These symptoms may last from one to five years.
But some women may still undergo hot flashes ten years after their menopause. And while others may not face hot flashes at all.
Some women have menopause at the age of 50-55. At the same time, some women have menopause before 45 years of age.
HRT can be taken before the age of 50, decreasing the risk of breast cancer. Some women are postmenopausal by 54.
Every woman doesn’t need to undergo HRT during their menopausal cycle. You can get relief from menopausal hot flashes if you can develop a healthy lifestyle.
Avoid alcohol consumption, quit smoking, eat a healthy diet, get yourself in a cool place, reduce caffeine intake, breathe fresh air, and get some relaxation.
Various nonhormone medicine remedies may ease hot flashes. And a vaginal moisturizer or cream may help to get rid of vaginal dryness if used regularly.
There are several medicines in the market alternative to HRT like Tibolone, antidepressants, clonidine, etc.
These can help you get relief from hot flashes and night sweats but may cause bothersome or uncomfortable side effects such as agitation and dizziness.
Some herbal medications which contain small amounts of plants estrogen and phytoestrogen may help to cure menopause.
Black cohosh, red clover, dong Quai, evening primrose, and ginseng are amidst those that are in practice, seemingly with some success.
These practices may be an alternative if HRT is not possible to implement for health or other issues, but it is better to discuss it with your doctor.
For how long can hormone replacement therapy be given?
There is no such deadline on how long you can use HRT, but it is better to talk to a doctor or physician about how long they counsel you to follow the prescription.
Taking HRT for more than one year might have a higher risk of breast cancer. But some enhanced risk prevails for more than ten years instead of women who have never done HRT.
The risk is associated with all species of HRT except vaginal estrogen.
Most women discontinue it once their menopausal symptoms stop after a few years of treatment. Meanwhile, you can wish to quit or do so abruptly or slowly.
Steadily diminishing your HRT dose is generally suggested because it’s concise to make your symptoms return in the short term.
Consult with a doctor if you have symptoms that continue for several months after you end HRT, or if you have especially acute symptoms.
You may require to begin HRT again!
As you know, HRT is given based on your age, health condition, medical history, risk factors, and personal preferences.
Before you consider, to begin with, the therapy, understand what is best for you and what is not. You should thoroughly consult with your doctor about the benefits and the risks.
Consider taking HRT for long-term, the outcome of the short-term use of it may contemplate exceeding the risk and returning of menopausal symptoms.
Take a small dose of medication with a long duration for better healing without disturbing your health.
HRT is an option for a woman below 60 years of age. Notably, it is an honor for osteoporosis restriction and those with premature menopause.
Women or the candidate of HRT should be well monitored by the doctor at least annually before approaching.
In some cases, women’s long-term use of it may be essential for symptom ease and the prevailing spirit of life.