Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a type of hormonal treatment for women used to relieve the distressing symptoms of menopause. Some women report that they feel absolutely fine during this time of life. Yet, for many others, this is not the case. Indeed, for some women, the symptoms can be so distressing that they can have a serious impact on their lives. Menopausal symptoms include:
- Mood swings
- Weakening of the bones (osteoporosis)
- Hot flushes
- Reduced sex drive
- Vaginal dryness
- Night sweats
- Difficulty in sleeping at night
Benefits of HRT
This treatment works by providing replacement oestrogen for the body. Oestrogen is the hormone that maintains the particularly female characteristics of a person. Once the body enters the menopausal period of life, it produces much less oestrogen. This reduction can result in the distressing symptoms mentioned above. However, HRT medication replaces the missing oestrogen in the body and works to lessen the painful or uncomfortable symptoms of menopause. This medicine has had a revolutionary effect on the lives of many women. In fact, there are many who report a new lease of life after starting this therapy.
Every human being is different, and no two menopause sufferers are exactly the same when it comes to HRT needs. There are different types of HRT. Some types involve both progesterone and oestrogen, while others involve only oestrogen. These treatments come in the form of creams, gels, pessaries, or oral medication, and must be taken daily or on a cyclical basis.
Risks of Taking HRT
HRT is not for everyone. For example, it shouldn’t be taken in pregnancy. Even when the periods have stopped, a woman can still become pregnant. A sexually-active woman should continue taking contraception for two years after her last period, if under 50 years of age. She should continue for one year after if over 50. Also, HRT is not advisable for women with liver issues or hypertension, although studies show there may not be much risk. If a woman feels she needs this therapy, in spite of contraindications, she can speak to her doctor. There may be an alternative treatment available. Some women are more susceptible to health problems when taking the treatment. Risks to health include a slightly increased likelihood of:
- Breast cancer
- Heart disease
- Blood clots
Who Benefits Most From Hormone Replacement Therapy?
HRT helps women who suffer from distressing menopausal symptoms. It brings benefits to women who have stopped menstruating early. This could be owing to cancer and certain operations (such as a hysterectomy). By replacing the oestrogen which they are lacking, HRT can help such women. This helps them to have the same oestrogen exposure as other women, and can prevent premature ageing and other accompanying problems. Many studies have also found HRT to be helpful for women who suffer from weakness of the bones or osteoporosis. Especially those who, for some reason, can’t take conventional osteoporosis treatments.
How to Decide if HRT is Good for You
It’s true that we can control many menopausal symptoms. We can do it with simple medicines and lifestyle changes. But some suffers may find that these are not enough. It’s a good idea to discuss your health history with your doctor. If you can supply some family history about health, that’s a great help too. Keep checking in with your doctor – take note of your symptoms and give your feedback. You may have to try more than one HRT system before you find the one that suits. Keep communicating with your doctor. That will help you work out what works best for you and your lifestyle.