A controversial subject, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has been used among many women to help alleviate the symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and fatigue. Read on to learn how hormone therapy works and how it affects your health.
How Does HRT Work?
Using a combination of estrogen and progestin (synthetic progesterone), hormone therapy replaces natural hormones that the ovaries have stopped producing in regular quantities. Because it is not available over the counter, this type of therapy must be prescribed by a doctor.
Should I Seek HRT?
With so many benefits but also risks, deciding whether or not HRT is the right therapy for you is a heavy decision to make. If you're considering HRT, it's best to talk with your doctor to find out about its risks and benefits.
For women suffering from hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause, HRT in the form of a patch and gel can help alleviate the symptoms. Studies have found that women with the worst symptoms appear to benefit the most, and all treatments of menopause symptoms along with HRT will help to reduce them.
HRT also works in particular to relieve vaginal dryness, which can make intercourse painful. Only a low dose of HRT is needed to relieve vaginal dryness or irritation, and it has helped many women get back their libido and sexual satisfaction.
What Are the Risks of HRT?
There are several risks associated with taking HRT. For most women, the increased risks are quite small, but for women over 60, they are higher. The risk goes up slowly within the first five years of treatment but increases rapidly in subsequent years. Stopping HRT after five years has the same risk of developing breast cancer compared to those who have never sought this type of treatment.
Women taking HRT have an increased chance of getting blood clots than women who don't take it. However, the heightened risk is small for a majority of women. Blood clots pose a danger since they can impede important blood vessels, which in turn blocks blood flow to the lungs and heart. In addition, women who use HRT containing estrogen alone are more likely to have a stroke. Again, this risk increases for women over the age of 60.
Talk to you doctor if you are considering taking HRT to help combat your menopause symptoms. Click here to read more about HRT and menopause.