The human body is a wonderful thing. The best way to understand it is to think of the body as a complex machine with many different components and systems all working together to keep us fit, healthy, and able. The problem with such a machine is that there are so many different parts that can go wrong. Age plays a part in this, as do many lifestyle choices.
The problem for women is that even those who lead a perfectly healthy life with a balanced diet, no alcohol, and don’t smoke, will eventually enter menopause. This article aims to explain why menopause happens and what hormone therapy for women is all about. First, we need to describe how and why menopause comes about, and why hormones are important in this subject.
Why Might Women Need Hormone Therapy?
Hormones are the chemical messengers that take instructions from the brain and nervous system to various organs and other systems in the body. Every single thing we do is governed by hormones and their signals. Hormones are produced by various glands in the body. They can be produced in greater or lesser quantities at certain moments. For example, estrogen – a dominant hormone in women – will be increased when sexual activity takes place, to name just one instance.
A woman’s reproductive system operates like a well-oiled machine. On roughly a monthly basis the ovaries produce eggs in women. This is when she experiences her period. This is a time when temporary hormonal changes affect the way a woman feels and acts. For the average woman, the ovaries stop working in the mid-40’s, but it can occur earlier or later.
This is menopause, a time in a woman’s life when massive changes to her hormonal balance may have a great effect on her moods, feelings, and health – especially in terms of mental health. Menopause in itself is not dangerous, but the effect it has on a woman can lead to some quite troubling symptoms. Let’s not have a look at what to look for if a woman believes she is entering menopause, and then we’ll talk about how HRT helps.
Symptoms of Menopause
Menopause affects each individual woman in different ways. Some can experience quite dramatic changes, while others may simply feel under the weather. This is because the body is changing its balance of hormones to try and combat the effect of the reproductive system shutting down. Here are the most common changes a woman may notice when entering menopause:
- Depression and anxiety
- These are but a few of the symptoms and it is strongly advised that should a woman in her 40’s or close start to feel notably different she seeks medical diagnosis. Now, onto the subject of HRT, what it does, and how it works.
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Mood swings
- Dryness in the vaginal area
- Loss of sex drive and interest
- Poor self-esteem
What is Involved in HRT?
To find HRT explained in more detail check out that link. So, what is involved? Put simply HRT involves replacing the lost hormones with a synthetic or bioidentical version. This rejuvenates the various systems in the body as the hormones do the job. There are a number of ways of administering HRT and we need to explain the difference between synthetic and bioidentical hormone replacement so let’s get started.
Types of Replacement Hormones
HRT is a simple procedure – or choice of procedures – that has been proven successful in millions of women, and not just for menopause treatment. It can also be useful for hair loss and for thyroid problems, each of which can be related to hormonal changes. There are also HRT procedures for many men’s health issues. Let’s look briefly at the two main types of replacement hormones, and then at the methods of getting them into the body.
Synthetic – until recently the replacement hormone of choice would have been an entirely synthetic one. This is all very well until it was noticed that some synthetic hormones carried substances that were clearly causing breast cancer and other serious conditions. Although instance of this was not seen in all women, they were noticed in sufficient amounts to raise concern. That’s when research into alternatives was ramped up, the result being bioidentical hormones.
Bioidentical – the preferred hormone for HRT is the bioidentical hormone. This has the benefit of being created in a laboratory by matching to the patient’s actual hormone. The result is one that is as biologically close as possible to the original. This method has become more popular as there is less chance of contamination and there have not been cases of breast cancers related as there have above.
Now onto the methods that can be used to administer HRT.
Methods of Administering HRT
The following are the four main methods of getting the replacement hormone into the body but be aware there are others that may be discussed or recommended by your consultant.
- Tablets as in ordinary ingested pills are a method of administering HRT into the body, but as some people cannot take oral medications alternatives are required.
- Patches that are applied to the skin that slowly secret the hormone for it to be absorbed are a very method of HRT.
- Gels and Creams that are similarly applied are also popular, although perhaps not as effective as the above.
- Pellet HRT is fast becoming one of the most preferred methods and involves small pellets of the hormone inserted under the skin via tiny incisions. This method is among the most effective of all.
We can conclude from the above that menopause is one of the women’s health problems that occur most regularly. Fortunately, HRT is here to help and a woman undergoing such treatment will soon regain her sense of well-being, feel a lot better in general, and suffer less serious mood swings. If you have any of the mentioned symptoms, please get a diagnosis as soon as you can.