The majority of women who seek hormone therapy for menopause treatment do so between the ages of 45 and 55, the most common time for the onset of menopausal symptoms. These changes occur because the ovaries no longer produce the same amount of critical hormones they once secreted. For some females who undergo an oophorectomy (surgical removal of the ovaries), the symptoms of menopause can come on rapidly and with increased severity. Menopause hormone therapy is beneficial when symptoms begin to interfere with a woman’s quality of life.
Although hormone therapy for menopause pros and cons are something to consider, many women can get the relief they desire with little to no risk. Yes, the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) did present some concerning facts about hormone replacement therapy (HRT). However, a close examination of the results shows that much of the concern was over the use of synthetic progestin. Unlike bioidentical progesterone that has the same structure as naturally produced progesterone, progestin’s compounds are different. That requires it to undergo some form of synthesis in the body after administration – hence the greater risk of side effects.
Doctors who specialize in hormone therapy for menopause symptoms today know that bioidentical hormones are a better option than synthetic ones. Anytime you can introduce to the body a medication with the same molecular structure as the hormone it is replacing, you have better results.
The use of hormone therapy for menopause treatment is beneficial at each of the following three stages of natural menopause:
- Perimenopause – the onset of symptoms until 12 months after the final menstruation. Pregnancy can still occur during perimenopause, so birth control is important. Depression is possible as some women may not be ready to face the changes taking place in their bodies. Changing hormone levels may also influence emotional swings.
- Menopause – begins when 12 months have passed since the final period. Symptoms of menopause tend to be at their worst during this time.
- Postmenopause – the years following menopause often bring relief from symptoms. However, some women do face persistent symptoms that may benefit from targeted, short-term HRT.
Bioidentical hormone therapy for menopause treatment is beneficial when menopause symptoms interfere in a woman’s life.
Types of Hormone Therapy for Menopause Treatment
The type of hormone therapy for menopause treatment used will vary among women. One reason for this is that many treatments are symptoms based. For example, if a woman’s only issue is that she is suffering from vaginal dryness and urinary problems, she will do better with a vaginal form of estrogen that can target only her symptoms. In this situation, there is also a significant reduction in potential side effects. However, it is essential to understand that this treatment will not impact hot flashes, depression, night sweats, or other menopausal symptoms.
There are also options other than the standard estrogen treatment. Not every woman can use estrogen, especially if she has risk factors for breast cancer. It is also important to target hormone therapy for menopause based on individual hormone levels. Blood analysis is crucial before beginning any form of HRT so that the proper treatment is prescribed.
The most commonly recommended options for menopause hormone therapy are:
Although it is the most common form of HRT for women, it is not for everyone. Maintaining healthy estrogen levels are crucial, as estrogen protects the bones from weakening. If a woman no longer has her uterus, she can receive estrogen as a sole treatment option.For females who only suffer vaginal and urinary symptoms, vaginal estrogen cream, rings, and tablets can target the issues. Vaginal estrogen reduces absorption into other areas of the body, influencing only local concerns. There are no benefits for the bones or other symptoms with this form of hormone therapy.Women who suffer from other menopausal symptoms may receive systemic estrogen therapy in the following forms:
- Oral pills
- Skin patches
Natural progesterone (not synthetic progestin) has the same molecular structure as the hormone it replenishes. Progesterone is a vital hormone for women because it is the precursor to testosterone, which the body then synthesizes into estradiol (estrogen).Women who still have a uterus cannot receive estrogen alone as it can increase the risk of endometrial cancer. Taking estrogen in conjunction with bioidentical progesterone is a recommended option for some women.
It may seem strange at first to speak about using the “male sex hormone” testosterone to treat menopause, but testosterone is a crucial hormone for women, as well. Testosterone stimulates a woman’s sex drive, supports metabolism, increases red blood cell production, strengthens bones, and enhances brain functions. More importantly, testosterone does not increase the risk of breast cancer, making it an excellent alternative for women who cannot use estrogen therapy. To minimize the risk of the body converting testosterone into estradiol, the hormone specialist will also prescribe an estrogen blocker during treatment.Testosterone treatment for menopause is best given in the form of a compounded cream applied daily to a small patch of skin.
- Human growth hormone
Most women do not know about using human growth hormone (HGH) as a form of menopause treatment. However, most of the symptoms of menopause are the same as with growth hormone deficiency. That is why we recommend all women dealing with menopausal symptoms undergo comprehensive blood analysis with a hormone specialist who deals with the changes in the aging body.Human growth hormone levels begin to decline while most people are in their twenties. By the time the mid-forties or fifties roll around, deficiency symptoms can reduce a person’s quality of life. HGH injection therapy often provides relief from menopausal symptoms, in part because it also tends to stimulate testosterone production.
When learning about hormone replacement therapy and menopause, many women are surprised to learn there are a variety of safe options.
Benefits of Hormone Therapy for Menopause
When most women think about hormone therapy for menopause benefits, the first things that come to mind are an end to hot flashes and waking up in a pool of sweat halfway through the night. They speak about putting an end to mood swings and losing weight.
Yes, these are all common benefits of hormone therapy for menopause treatment. However, they are just skimming the surface of the bigger issues. Other benefits of HRT for menopause depend on the type of treatment, and often include:
- Slowing down bone resorption and improving new bone cell production to reduce the risk of fractures and osteoporosis
- Improving heart functions, circulation, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels
- Decreasing forgetfulness and strengthening brain functions
- Reducing feelings of depression and mood swings
- Enhancing vaginal lubrication, sexual fantasies, libido, and pleasure
- Decreasing vaginal atrophy and urinary tract issues
- Improving sleep duration and quality resulting in more energy
It is also possible to receive some forms of hormone therapy after menopause is over if symptoms persist. Estrogen use is not recommended after age 60. However, natural progesterone, testosterone, and human growth hormone may be options, if needed. In later years, low-dose, short-term treatment with HRT is a viable option.
Properly prescribed hormone therapy provides many benefits to women dealing with menopausal symptoms.
Menopause Hormone Therapy Risks
It is advisable to use the lowest possible dosage of medication for the shortest duration to reduce the risks associated with hormone therapy for menopause treatment. Long-term estrogen use poses the biggest risk factor, especially when prescribed in conjunction with synthetic progestin. It is best to speak with a hormone specialist about using natural progesterone instead of progestin.
Hormone therapy for menopause risks depends also on the type of treatment. Women over age 60 have a higher incidence of stroke and blood clots when using estrogen or estrogen/progestin. There are also breast cancer and heart disease risks for some women who use those treatments.
Testosterone and human growth hormone carry fewer risks when prescribed by a hormone specialist following blood analysis and physical examination. It is essential to complete all steps of the diagnostic process to minimize the incidence of hormone therapy for menopause side effects.
Weighing the benefits vs. the risks is crucial. Looking at a woman’s quality of life during and after menopause is also a factor. Some females experience such severe hot flashes that they cannot make it through a day of work. If night sweats are preventing you from getting decent sleep that interferes with your ability to function during the day, that is a problem.
Another thing to consider is the toll hormone deficiency takes on your bones, cognitive functions, heart health, and emotional state. When used properly under doctor supervision, HRT can significantly improve your health, well-being, and quality of life.
When used properly, hormone therapy for menopause carries little risk and significant benefits for improving quality of life.
How to Choose the Right Hormone Therapy for Menopause Treatment
The best way to decide on hormone therapy for menopause treatment is to contact an HRT specialist. You want a doctor who understands how the aging body responds to changes in hormone levels. Following an analysis of blood test results, the HRT doctor will know which hormones you need to regulate or increase. Treatment can then be targeted to your body’s needs for the best results.
With menopause, it is essential to look at blood hormone levels as well as symptoms and a woman’s overall health and medical history before making this decision. The goal of the HRT physician is to prescribe the right treatment in the lowest dosage possible for the shortest duration.
With the right hormone therapy and menopause intervention, you can improve your vitality and quality of life. If you have questions about hormone therapy and menopausal symptoms, RXHormone medical clinic is here to answer them. Consultations by phone are free and confidential. Contact us today for more information.