Relieving Menopause With HRT
Experienced by most women in the 40s and 50s, menopause is the cessation of the period and marks the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle. A woman can experience a variety of symptoms during the process of menopause. Depending on the symptoms and severity, some women require hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for relief. Is HRT safe and effective?
How does HRT help?
A woman’s hormone levels change significantly during menopause. Hormones such as estrogen and progesterone naturally lower during this time, producing menopausal symptoms as a result. When a woman takes HRT medication, hormone levels increase, and symptoms are reduced. However, HRT is not for every woman going through menopause. The healthcare provider will discuss the risks and benefits of HRT and determine whether the patient is a suitable candidate.
The 2 types of HRT
Hormone replacement therapy is prescribed as either estrogen-only or estrogen-progesterone therapy. Women without uteruses, such as those who have undergone a hysterectomy, are recommended estrogen therapy only. However, for women who have a uterus, the doctor will usually suggest estrogen-progesterone hormone therapy for the best results.
Benefitting from HRT
Some women can benefit from using HRT more than others. Hormone replacement therapy is typically given to women who experience moderate to severe hot flashes, vaginal dryness, itchy skin, and painful intercourse. Women who have early menopause or estrogen deficiency can benefit from HRT as well. This therapy can help reduce the risk of developing certain medical conditions such as mood changes, strokes, and diabetes. Hormone replacement therapy also reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis and bone fractures later in life.
The disadvantages of HRT
Although HRT has many benefits, there are some risks to taking the medication. Studies show HRT can increase the chances of breast and endometrial cancer. Other potential adverse events are increased risk of blood clots, stroke, dementia, and gallbladder issues. Taking HRT can also cause immediate side effects, such as spotting, breast tenderness, and mood swings. Less common side effects include headaches, fluid retention, and changes in skin color.
Is HRT safe?
As with many medications, deciding whether to take HRT involves weighing the risks and benefits. Most healthcare providers consider HRT a suitable choice for healthy women who experience moderate to severe menopausal symptoms. For women with relatively minor menopause symptoms, lifestyle changes may be enough to help, and medication may not be required.
Getting through menopause comfortably
Hormone replacement therapy can be safe and effective for many women experiencing moderate to severe menopausal symptoms. The duration of HRT depends on how the patient is feeling. There are some potential risks that should be discussed with the healthcare provider before initiating treatment. Some women are more prone to developing complications than others, depending on medical history. Taking HRT requires continuous monitoring and visiting the doctor.