Think you could benefit from HRT? Here’s everything you need to know about hormone replacement therapy and how to decide if it’s right for you.
The menopause is a fact of life for the vast majority of women. Menopause is the name given to the time when a woman stops having periods and is unable to become pregnant. The cause is a reduction/cessation in the production of the hormone estrogen.
There are factors that influence what is essentially a genetic process but on average, US women reach the menopause between the ages of 48-55. You cannot predict the age at which you will reach the menopause but at this point in time, the most common treatment/solution is hormone replacement therapy. Here’s what you should know.
What is Estrogen?
Women have two sex hormones: estrogen and progestogen. Estrogen is responsible for female physical features and reproduction. It plays a crucial role in the sexual health and processes from initiating puberty to controlling the menstruation cycle.
How do Hormones Work?
Hormones are essentially chemicals produced by various glands in the body which act as ‘signals’ to receptor cells to ‘react’ to a stimulus.
Hormone replacement therapy is so called because the HRT drugs contain the estrogen the body is no longer producing. The estrogen supplements are designed to ensure that the functions of this vital hormone continue.
Symptoms of Low Estrogen
It can be easy after a certain age that you have hit the menopause but it will need to be confirmed by your doctor who will also suggest if you are a suitable candidate for hormone replacement treatment.
Side effects of low estrogen include:
- Irregular periods or cessation of periods
- Breast tenderness
- Vaginal dryness
- Low libido
- Mood swings
- Hot flashes
- Headaches or migraines
Do You Need Hormone Replacement Therapy?
With an estrogen deficiency, receptor cells do not receive the signals to react to make the body function as previously. The symptoms outlined above are the result and these symptoms can last a few years. Without HRT, they can also become persistently unpleasant and lead to further issues such as depression.
Natural remedies are an alternative but it comes down to a personal choice and whether the alternatives are as effective as prescribed HRT. If you want to know more about the benefits of HRT read this useful post for women.
Hormone replacement therapy is a prescribed medicine. There are various types and your doctor will talk you through the best options for you. Delivery methods include tablets, patches, vaginal rings, gels, pessaries, and creams.
The drugs are usually prescribed in a low dosage at first and then adjusted as time progresses to ensure successful management of “the change”.
Benefits and Side Effects of HRT
It is important to have a balanced view of how HRT will affect your body. Your doctor will explain how the treatment will alleviate menopausal symptoms. They may also explain the link between osteoporosis and the menopause. The side effects of HRT are as equally important to be aware of because these will also need to be managed should they occur – most commonly, the dosage of your HRT is adjusted.
The question of knowing if hormone replacement therapy is right for you is a very personal one. The severity of the symptoms and your lifestyle will impact your decision after a discussion with your doctor.
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