While menopause is a natural time in every woman's life, not all of us get through it as easily as others. Some women are lucky enough to have very limited and mild symptoms while others can experience severe symptoms that interfere with daily life and last for a decade or longer. Hormone replacement therapy is a safe, approved way to treat the symptoms of menopause while protecting you against some health concerns that older women face.
What Happens to Your Hormones During Menopause?
During the perimenopause phase, estrogen and progesterone levels start to fluctuate as the ovaries shrink. This phase is marked by irregular periods. During perimenopause, the ovaries will sometimes make too little estrogen and/or progesterone and sometimes too little.
While a man's testosterone levels decline as he ages but never reach zero, a woman's body eventually stops making estrogen completely. After 6 to 12 months before menstruation ends, estrogen levels begin to decline. When estrogen declines past a certain point, menstruation ends completely. Over the next year, estrogen levels continue to decline until the reach zero.
Low estrogen, while natural, causes many health problems. Low estrogen levels following menopause are linked to:
- Bone loss. The loss of estrogen accelerates bone loss and puts postmenopausal women at a higher risk of osteoporosis.
- Changes to the skin. Declining estrogen affects collagen. This leads to dry skin and wrinkles.
- Vaginal changes. During menopause, the vaginal lining and urinary tract weaken and thin which can make intercourse painful.
- Heart disease. Postmenopausal women are at a higher risk of heart disease.
Hormone Replacement Therapy for Menopause
Hormone replacement is customized to each woman. Some women choose estrogen-only hormone therapy, progesterone-only, or progesterone and estrogen replacement. The goal of HRT is restoring more youthful levels of estrogen and/or progesterone to counteract menopause symptoms and guard against heart disease and osteoporosis.
Hormone replacement comes in many forms. Systemic hormone therapy in pill or patch form can treat all symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and vaginal symptoms while reducing your risk of osteoporosis. Estrogen creams can also be used. This type of hormone therapy limits the amount of hormones that enter your blood stream. While it cannot protect you against osteoporosis, it can treat vaginal symptoms.
Is Hormone Therapy the Right Choice?
Hormone replacement isn't right for every woman, but it is recommended for women at risk of osteoporosis and women with moderate to severe menopause symptoms. Women who are undergoing menopause naturally (those who haven't had a hysterectomy), the combination of estrogen and progesterone is advised as estrogen-only HRT can raise the risk of endometrial cancer. Women with heart disease, liver disease, and breast cancer are not good candidates for hormone therapy as HRT only guards against heart disease among younger women who have a healthy circulatory system.
While HRT is not a cure-all for menopause, it is the best way to treat menopause systems, guard against osteoporosis, and improve your quality of life. The best way to find out if you are a good candidate is scheduling a consultation with your doctor or a hormone specialist.
HealthGains is a nationwide age management and hormone optimization center headquartered in South Florida. HealthGains specializes in hormone therapy, PRP therapy, nutritional supplementation, and specialized diagnostics to help you look and feel your best.