Is hormone replacement therapy right for you? Keep reading to know more about HRT for women.
Hormone Therapy for Women: Everything You Have to Know
What Is Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment that replaces the hormones that the body is lacking or is no longer making.
There are two types of HRT for women:
- Estrogen therapy or Estrogen alone therapy (ET)
- Estrogen with progesterone therapy (EPT)
What Is Estrogen-Alone Therapy?
Estrogen alone therapy (ET) is a type of hormone replacement therapy that adds estrogen to a woman’s body.
Estrogen is known as the female sex hormone, and it plays an important role in a woman’s sexual and reproductive development. On top of that, it helps the body absorb calcium, regulates cholesterol levels, and helps maintain a healthy vagina.
ET is usually prescribed for women who have undergone a hysterectomy.
What is a hysterectomy? It is a surgical procedure that removes a woman’s uterus. It is sometimes called surgical menopause.
What Is Estrogen with Progesterone Therapy?
Estrogen with progesterone therapy (EPT) is a type of hormone replacement therapy that adds a combination of estrogen and progesterone to a woman’s body.
Progesterone is a sex hormone that is sometimes called the pregnancy hormone. It helps regulate the conditions in the uterus and prepares the body for pregnancy.
EPT is usually prescribed for women who still have a uterus and who are naturally experiencing symptoms of menopause.
What Are the Benefits of HRT?
When menopause begins, a woman’s ovaries produce significantly less estrogen and progesterone. This leads to uncomfortable symptoms such as:
- Vaginal dryness
- Pain during intercourse
- Hot flashes
- Night Sweats
- Changes in mood
- Problems in sleeping
Essentially, HRT makes up for the hormones lost due to menopause so it can help minimize or even relieve the symptoms listed above. It also minimizes risk against osteoporosis because it allows a woman’s body to process calcium efficiently.
Who Are Candidates for Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Women who experience moderate to severe symptoms of menopause and who have a genetic predisposition for osteoporosis can consider hormone therapy as a form of treatment.
Who Are Not Candidates for HRT Treatment?
Women with the following conditions are not candidates for HRT:
- Breast cancer
- Has a history of blood clots
- Liver disease
- Heart disease, e.g. coronary heart disease, especially those with vasomotor symptoms
- Uterine cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Other types of cancer
Women who are not experiencing symptoms of menopause or who are pregnant should be discouraged from HRT.
What Is HRT Treatment for Women Like?
Bio-identical hormones, estrogen and progestin, in HRT therapy can come in the form of:
- A pill
- A patch
- Vaginal cream
- A vaginal ring
Some doctors prefer a low-dose transdermal patch because the hormones are sent directly into the bloodstream. This allows it to skip the liver and lowers the chances of metabolic problems.
When Should Women Begin Hormone Therapy?
Although menopause usually begins in your mid-forties to early fifties, many women experience severe and uncomfortable symptoms for two or three years. The onset and duration of menopause symptoms will vary among women.
If the menopause symptoms start interfering with the quality of your life, it may be time to consider HRT.
How Long Should the Hormone Therapy Last?
Women normally stop HRT after they stop experiencing the symptoms of menopause. This can last for 2-5 years after the onset of menopause.
While a low-dose treatment can be given for up to five years, doctors will usually recommend a shorter treatment period to limit the risk factors associated with HRT.
When it seems like the symptoms have gone, doctors will gradually decrease the HRT dosage to help the women transition out of HRT.
Where To Get Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Many clinical practices have a doctor with an expertise in premenopause, menopause, and post-menopausal health. He/She can address your HRT questions and prescribe the suitable dose and type of HRT for you.
HRT was controversial two decades ago because it was marketed as a cure-all treatment. And while we’ve learned that it isn’t the case, it still an effective way of treating the symptoms of menopause.
If the symptoms of menopause are uncomfortable and keep you from living your ideal life, then maybe it’s time to consider HRT.