Women in South FL who have symptoms of menopause may benefit from hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
HRT may improve both short-term and long-term health in women, although finding the right application and hormone balance will involve discussion and management with your doctor. There are some health risks associated with HRT, but these are minimal alongside potential gains. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a term covering a range of hormone treatments, including replacing estrogen and/or progesterone in women who are undergoing menopause. While menopause is a normal occurrence for women who are getting older, you might experience an early onset (before 40 or 45 years old), have a health reason for experiencing menopause (such as a hysterectomy), or experience intense, disruptive symptoms.
What is HRT?
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a term covering a range of hormone treatments for many health conditions, often related to aging. One of the most common applications of HRT is to treat the symptoms of menopause in women.
Although it is normal for a woman’s estrogen and progesterone to reduce in middle age and older adulthood, symptoms might be disruptive and physically uncomfortable. Some women start menopause much earlier than others, and HRT can help to maintain physical and mental health for these women.
If you have disruptive, uncomfortable, or early onset menopause, you can visit your doctor for a diagnosis and a prescription for HRT. A conversion with your doctor can also help you learn more about your current hormone levels, so you know how much HRT you will need and the best method for metabolizing it.
In Boca Raton, Florida, Cosmetica Med Spa can help you manage HRT treatments.
When Is Menopause Normal & When Does It Need Medical Attention?
The term menopause means “the last period,” which marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years. Menopause is considered to have occurred 12 months, or one year, after a woman’s final period. On average, healthy women reach menopause around 51 years old, but some experience it even later.
Premature menopause means the last period happens prior to 40 years old; early menopause is when the last period occurs prior to 45 years old. Some health conditions that change sex hormone production, like undergoing a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) or oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries), reduce or even end the body’s natural production of hormones. Women who undergo these procedures are typically recommended to take HRT immediately afterward.
Menopause that occurs before 50 years old can increase the risk of some health problems like heart disease, osteoporosis, and some types of cancer like bowel cancer. HRT is typically recommended for women who develop menopausal symptoms before 50 years old, to reduce the risk of chronic or debilitating illnesses later in life.
Before the actual, final period, the body will slowly stop producing fertility-related hormones like progesterone and estrogen. This can lead to symptoms that range from uncomfortable to seriously disruptive. Even women who are over 50 years old and experiencing these symptoms can benefit from HRT to reduce the life-altering physical changes.
These are some common symptoms of menopause:
- Dry skin
- Abnormal nerve sensations on the skin like prickling or crawling
- Vaginal dryness
- Thinning of the vaginal walls, which can cause pain
- Increased risk of vaginal and bladder infections
- Mild urinary incontinence
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Disrupted sleep or insomnia
- Depression, anxiety, irritability, and restlessness
- Other mood disturbances
- Changes in thinking ability and memory
- Heart palpitations
- Hair loss or abnormal hair growth
- General aches and pains
- Reduced sex drive
There are many ways to manage menopause symptoms, including adjusting diet, managing stress, and getting regular exercise. However, many women make lifestyle changes and still experience difficult menopause symptoms. HRT can greatly benefit these women.
Why Women Benefit From HRT
HRT is a prescription medication that raises hormone levels, mostly estrogen levels, in the blood. Anyone experiencing menopause symptoms that cause discomfort, distress, or significant reduction of quality of life should speak to their doctor about HRT. There are several types of HRT that can manage symptoms, so you are mentally, emotionally, and physically healthier and happier.
Types of HRT include the following:
- Low-dose hormonal birth control: This is a good option for people who have milder menopausal symptoms, in the years leading up to their final period. This can help regulate when your period occurs in the month, and it can ease mental and physical symptoms like dryness or depression.
- Menopausal hormone therapy: These are specific pills or patches developed to moderate menopause symptoms just before or during your menopausal years. Your doctor will work with you to find the lowest effective hormone dose, which reduces the risk of side effects while improving your health.
- Topical hormonal medicine: c is a personal lubricant with added hormone therapy applied inside the vagina once per day, specifically to help women who experience vaginal dryness and pain, particularly during intercourse. There are also rings that can be inserted into the vagina and topical hormone creams, which can alleviate other symptoms associated with menopause.
- HRT injections: Syringes with regular doses of HRT are injected under the skin, into muscles, which helps to circulate hormones for several weeks or months.
You can discuss which option might best suit your hormone levels, lifestyle, and other needs with your doctor. Overall, HRT for menopause is very beneficial for most women, and there are many unique ways to take it.
Side Effects Do Not Decrease HRT Treatment Benefits
When overseen by trained medical professionals, HRT for menopause is one of the safest, most beneficial medical treatments available. Side effects might include the following:
- Breakthrough bleeding between periods
- Slight changes to menstrual cycle timing
- Tenderness in the breasts
- Nausea or stomach upset
While many women are concerned that HRT for menopause can make them gain weight, which increases the risk of many health problems like diabetes or bone and joint problems, there is no associated risk of gaining weight due to taking HRT. While you might experience some bloating, which can feel like weight gain, this can be offset with developing a regular exercise routine, eating healthier, and drinking enough water.
There is some increased risk of breast cancer associated with HRT, but this can vary based on several individual factors, including how long you take HRT and the specific dose of estrogen and progesterone taken.
Medical studies have found that women who are 50 or older, who take HRT for five years or less, have no increased risk of breast cancer. Women in this age group who take combined HRT for more than five years have a slightly increased risk. Women who take just estrogen as HRT have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer after taking this medicine for 15 years and no increased risk up to that point.
There are many other factors that contribute to your risk of breast cancer, including these:
- Lifestyle habits, especially smoking and alcohol consumption
- History of taking birth control
- Genetic factors, including having the BRCA genes
- Family history
- Environmental factors
Some of these, like lifestyle choices, are within your control, but many are not. If you have any of these risk factors, talking to your doctor about this medical history can help them determine which type and dosage of HRT might work best for you. This will also inform any potential future health screenings, to reduce your risk of breast cancer.
For women taking estrogen-only HRT, there is a slight risk of developing endometrial cancer, or cancer of the lining of the uterus. There is no increased risk of this type of cancer when taking combined estrogen and progesterone HRT. There is a similar slightly increased risk of developing ovarian cancer, but this is estimated to be one case per 10,000 HRT users every year.
There is also an associated risk of blood clots, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. This is most often true for women who are 60 and older, who are taking estrogen alone. How HRT is taken can change this risk. For example, daily oral estrogen tablets can increase the risk of stroke and venous thrombosis (blood clots in the veins) in women over 60, while an estrogen skin patch does not increase the risk of stroke at all.
Although there are some health concerns associated with HRT for menopause, most doctors agree that the benefits outweigh the risks. To find the right kind of HRT for you, talk to your doctor in Boca Raton, examine your medical history, and discuss personal concerns to develop a treatment plan.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and Menopause. (August 2018). Better Health Channel.
What Is Menopause? (June 2017). National Institute on Aging (NIA), National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Menopause Treatment. (May 2019). Office on Women’s Health (OASH).
Hormone Therapy: Benefits and Risks. The North American Menopause Society.
Menopausal Hormone Therapy and Cancer Risk. (February 2015). American Cancer Society.
News You Can Use About Hormone Therapy. The North American Menopause Society.