While it’s true that our bodies are capable of some truly amazing things, they also have a tendency to freeze up when it comes time to execute some essential functions. For many women, this takes the form of lowered or increased hormone levels, especially during menopause, which can have some pretty serious repercussions. It should also go without saying that hormone replacement therapy is a fairly-complex topic that requires a lot of thought, foresight, and research to fully understand. Here’s what you need to know about hormone replacement therapy.
What is hormone replacement therapy?
In the years leading up to menopause, as well as during menopause, a woman’s hormone levels tend to fluctuate both up and down. This is often unpredictable and can change rather quickly. It leads to some significant menopausal symptoms including hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, irritability, and vaginal dryness. It goes without saying that, for most women, menopause is quite unpleasant. For some, their menopausal symptoms are mild enough to be managed by things like over-the-counter painkillers and relief medications. For others, their menopausal symptoms are disruptive enough that leads to considering hormone replacement therapy.
Also known as menopausal hormone therapy, HRT is used to relieve the symptoms associated with fluctuating hormone levels. Hormone replacement therapy has also been linked to osteoporosis prevention. It’s important to keep in mind that not all hormone replacement therapy is identical and the treatment can take different forms. In some cases, there are one or two hormones that need to be addressed.
Hormone replacement therapy is typically administered via daily pills but there are other products, as well. Some of these include vaginal creams, skin patches, and gels, though there are other alternatives. Discuss your preferences with your doctor to ensure you get the best option for you.
Drawbacks of hormone replacement therapy
As with any medication or therapy regimen, there are certain drawbacks and associated risks. Hormone replacement therapy is no different. These risks and drawbacks vary from woman to woman and are largely influenced by lifestyle, medical records, and overall health. Certain types of hormone replacement therapy also carry higher risks, as well. Some of the complications that may occur are blood clots, heart attacks, and breast cancer, though this isn’t a comprehensive list. Since these are some fairly serious side effects, pursuing hormone therapy shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s important to weigh all of the benefits against the risks to determine whether it’s the right course of action for you.
Often, for women seeking hormone replacement therapy, the best move is to take the lowest effective dose for the least amount of time possible. This can reduce the long-term effects as well as the risks and dangers of taking hormone therapy for too long.
Naturally, your best bet when it comes to mitigating unwanted side effects of hormone replacement is to consult your primary physician. They may even suggest alternatives to hormone therapy or have preferred products. Plus, they’ll be more aligned with your medical history and will know which products are worth pursuing and which might cause an adverse reaction in your body. Your physician will likely recommend that you are reevaluated every three-to-six months to determine whether you need to continue taking hormone medications.
If you’re interested in hormone therapy and are ready to take more control of your menopausal period, your first task is to do research. Look at the benefits, investigate the risks, and check-in with a friend or family member who has undergone hormone replacement therapy. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to consult your physician. Be prepared to ask a lot of questions and receive a lot of information. If you’ve then decided this is right for you, you can take the next steps to begin your treatment.