Is Hormone Replacement Therapy the Right Treatment for You?
Hormones are vital for our survival as a species, and they have been at the driver’s seat of most of the essential processes in our bodies. They regulate bodily functions like sexual development, growth metabolism, and mood.
When your hormones are out of whack, you will typically feel like a slave in your own body. For years now, estrogen dominance, perimenopause and postmenopausal symptoms have been treated using hormone replacement therapy for women.
In any scenario, it is crucial that you know all there is about female hormone replacement therapy before you visit our HRT clinic.
Fast Facts About Hormones
Progesterone and estrogen are female hormones that are responsible for a myriad of essential functions in a woman’s body. When these hormone levels drop or spike, you will experience a series of symptoms that will make life a bit unbearable.
Estrogen is one of the female hormones that are critical for daily functioning. Estrogen is responsible for the release of eggs from the ovaries. It controls the menstrual cycle and helps in conception.
Other than the reproductive roles, it regulates other crucial functions like bone density, improving the quality and thickness of skin, keeps the vagina moist, regulates cholesterol production, and more.
When the levels of estrogen drop, you will experience symptoms that are associated with menopause like:
- Night sweats
- Hot flushes
- Vaginal Dryness
- Bone thinning (if untreated leads to osteoporosis)
- Stress incontinence (when coughing and sneezing you leak urine)
- Low libido (low sex drive)
On the other hand, estrogen dominance (too much estrogen and little progesterone) can also expose you to certain health risks like:
- Hormone-dependent cancers
- Thyroid problems
- High blood pressure
- Insulin resistance
Some of the symptoms related to low levels of estrogen might pass in five years, but others might persist or even get worse.
Progesterone is primarily responsible for preparing the womb and protecting the endometrium (lining of the uterus). It is also responsible for maintaining a pregnancy. Low levels will lead to:
- Low blood sugar
- Spotting between periods
- Abdominal pain
- Depression or mood swings
Benefits of Hormone Replacement Therapy
The benefits of female hormone replacement therapy are partly dependent on the method of administration. There are two methods:
- Low-dose Vaginal Products
These products come in tablet, cream or ring form. They are an effective treatment for some of the urinary symptoms and vaginal symptoms in the process, reducing absorption into the body.
- Systemic Hormone Therapy
In this case, the medication comes in a skin patch, pill, cream, spray or gel form. It is effective for treating night sweats and hot flashes. It can also treat vaginal symptoms like dryness, burning, itching and discomfort during intercourse.
Estrogen, combined with progesterone, can reduce the risk of developing colon cancer. Some studies reveal that if postmenopausal HRT is taken early, it can reduce the risk of heart disease. Another benefit is that it can protect you against osteoporosis.
Who Needs Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Today, HRT remains the most effective treatment for menopausal symptoms. You are eligible for this treatment if you:
- Have lost significant bone mass and other treatments aren’t effective
- Experience moderate to severe menopausal symptoms
- Experience premature menopause (periods stop before 40) or premature ovarian insufficiency (ovaries lose their function before 40).
Who Needs to Avoid Hormone Replacement Therapy?
If you have or had:
- Ovarian cancer
- Breast cancer
- Endometrial cancer
- Blood clots in the lungs or legs
- Liver disease
- Unexplained vaginal bleeding
If you are not experiencing severe menopausal symptoms and menopause started after you hit 45 years, there is no need for you to seek this treatment.
Studies have shown that there are some risks involved in hormone replacement therapy. But the risks vary from person to person and are also dependent on age. If you receive the treatment 10 or 20 years before you reach menopause or above 60 years, you at higher risk.
HRT after hysterectomy and oophorectomy, which is the removal of the womb and ovaries respectively, you do not need to take progesterone but estrogen-only HRT. On the other hand, if you take estrogen-only HRT while you have a womb, increases the risk of endometrial cancer.
Other risks that are associated with using HRT that combines estrogen and progestin are:
- Heart disease
- Breast cancer
- Blood clots
To ascertain whether hormone replacement therapy is for you or not, you need to visit You + Health; our HRT clinic and have an in-depth conversation with our doctor.