The uncomfortable, life-disturbing symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and moodiness, can make some women’s lives unbearable. If you’re frustrated with menopause and want your life back to normal, consider hormone replacement therapy.
As you move toward menopause, you may consider hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to ease your symptoms. But hormone therapy isn’t the right treatment for every woman experiencing this life change. Dr. Amy Bruner helps you weigh the pros and cons when determining whether hormone replacement therapy is the treatment for you.
Why hormone therapy?
During perimenopause, changes in your estrogen and progesterone levels cause many of the uncomfortable symptoms. These symptoms include night sweats, hot flashes, irregular periods, mood swings, and vaginal dryness. These symptoms may last five or more years, seriously affecting your quality of life.
Hormone therapy can help balance out your hormones so these symptoms ease. Hormone therapy usually involves estrogen, progesterone, and sometimes testosterone.
When should I consider hormone therapy?
Some lucky women glide through menopause easily. Other women, though, find the hormone fluctuations and resulting symptoms seriously affect their quality of life. If your menopause symptoms are affecting work, your self-esteem, your relationships, and your mental health, hormone therapy should be a consideration.
What are the benefits of hormone therapy?
Hormone therapy applied orally, as time-released pellets under the skin, as a patch, or as a cream can help relieve your menopausal symptoms. With hormone therapy, hot flashes and night sweats occur less often and may even disappear over time. Hormone therapy can help you sleep better, lubricate your vagina, relieve anxiety, and reduce moodiness and irritability.
If your major concerns with menopause are issues such as osteoporosis, heart disease, and urinary incontinence, hormone therapy may not be the initially recommended therapy to address these health issues. Dr. Bruner can offer other other medications, treatments, and lifestyle changes to help with these health concerns.
Are there risks to hormone therapy?
Some women are not good candidates for hormone therapy. Dr. Bruner can help you understand if it’s a good option for you, depending on your medical history and age.
For example, if you have a history of blood clots, estrogen replacement therapy is not recommended. Even if you’ve never had a blood clot, estrogen can increase your risk of developing blood clots, but certain types of hormone therapy — specifically patches, vaginal creams, and rings — are not as likely to increase this risk.
If you have a history of cancer, especially breast or uterine cancer, estrogen therapy is also not a good idea. Estrogen replacement therapy can raise your risk of developing these diseases.
Dr. Bruner can help you understand what combinations of hormones contribute to an increased risk of breast and uterine cancer. For example, taking synthetic estrogen and progesterone together for more than three to five years may increase your risk of breast cancer, while taking estrogen alone can increase your risk of endometrial cancer.
What about heart disease?
Hormone therapy might be right for you if you’re younger than 60 or started menopause less than 10 years ago because it generally doesn’t increase your heart disease risk at these times. In older women, hormone therapy can increase your risk of developing heart disease. You’re not a candidate for hormone therapy if you’ve had a heart attack or stroke in the past.
If you’re still uncertain about whether hormone replacement therapy is for you, consult with Dr. Bruner. She can offer a comprehensive picture of the benefits hormone replacement provides and the risks involved.