Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) replaces hormones that the body fails to produce after menopause. It used to be a standard treatment for women experiencing common menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes. It was also thought to have long-term benefits of preventing osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. However, recent attitudes about HRT have changed as greater health risks have been posed for postmenopausal women.
Despite this many doctors have continued to use hormone therapy to treat women experiencing early menopause. Keep reading to learn more about early menopause and how hormone therapy can be used to treat early menopause.
What Is Early Menopause?
Due to illness, medical procedures or genetics, some women enter menopause before the usual age of 50. Women who enter menopause before this age experience what is known as premature or “early” menopause. Menopause occurs when the body begins to slow production of essential hormones like progesterone and estrogen, which regulate essential female reproductive functions like menstruation, fertility, and libido. Whether natural or induced, early menopause comes with additional physical and emotional concerns.
Symptoms of early menopause often coincide with the symptoms experienced by women undergoing menopause naturally. Common symptoms include:
- Irregular or missed periods
- Irritable bladder
- Decreased libido
- Dry skin, eyes, or mouth
- Vaginal dryness
- Mood swings
Women who think they are experiencing early menopause should consult with a doctor to confirm diagnosis and discuss the treatment options available.
HRT and Early Menopause
The benefits of hormone therapy are numerous for women who choose standard HRT during natural menopause. It can relieve vaginal discomforts such as dryness, itching and burning in addition to relieving hot flashes. For women who experience premature menopause, there are a set of additional health risks compared with woman who reach menopause naturally, on average at the age of 50. These risks include:
- Higher risk of osteoporosis
- Higher risk of coronary heart disease
Hormone therapy appears to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and coronary heart disease if started early during menopause. For women who reach menopause prematurely, the protective benefits of HRT could outweigh the risks. The absolute risk to most women taking HRT is relatively low depending on symptoms. Talk to your doctor if you are considering or taking HRT to treat your early menopause. Click here to read more information about natural hormones.