Hormone Replacement Therapy for Menopause: An in-Depth Overview
Menopause is a difficult process for most of us. It can produce sudden hot flashes and pains. It can indicate a person is transitioning into old age, exacerbating depression.
But a person can get help for menopause. One therapy that is becoming more popular is hormone replacement therapy.
Some people have heard of hormone therapy for young people. They know it helps them grow if they’re struggling with puberty. But hormone therapy can help people in their adult years.
Here is a quick guide on how hormone replacement therapy helps with menopause.
The Symptoms of Menopause
Menopause is a natural part of aging. It occurs when a person’s ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone hormones, which causes the female body to stop having periods. At this point, the body undergoes a series of changes and symptoms.
- The most prominent sign of menopause is a change in periods. The periods themselves last for longer or shorter amounts of time, or the duration between periods grows longer or shorter. The periods can also feel heavier or lighter.
- Another prominent sign is hot flashes—a sudden feeling of warmth spreads over the face, neck, and chest. The skin may grow red and start to release sweat.
- A person may face psychological symptoms during menopause, such as brain fog and being unable to focus or remain awake. Moods may change suddenly.
- Menopause may predispose someone to bone fractures. Some people develop osteoporosis, a weakening of the bone structure. Talk to your doctor immediately if you break a bone or have bone pains.
Less common side effects include:
- Vaginal dryness
- Hair Issues. Hair loss during menopause is common, and some people grow hair on their faces during the process due to fluctuations in hormones.
It’s important to note that no two people with menopause are the same. Most people go through the menopausal transition between the ages of 45 and 55, but some can go through it sooner or later.
On average, the menopausal transition lasts 7 years, but it can last up to 14.
Removal of the ovaries or uterus can also trigger menopause. However, most cases of menopause occur with little warning.
The Basics of Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy supplies estrogen for someone who lacks it. Every therapy is tailored to a person’s specific biomarkers, and doctors must reevaluate a patient’s treatment plan and hormone levels over time.
There are two main kinds of hormone therapy. Systemic therapy provides a high dose of estrogen that the body absorbs. It can resolve any number of symptoms of menopause.
Manufacturers put systemic estrogen in a number of forms. The most common forms are pills and skin patches, but a patient can also receive rings, gels, and creams that provide steady and controlled doses of estrogen.
Hormone injections are also available. Doctors combine estrogen powder with sterile water and inject the mixture into a muscle. Most injection plans involve weekly injections, but plans differ depending on a patient’s needs.
For patients with vaginal and urinary symptoms, low-dose products are available. These products come in cream, tablet, and ring form. They provide estrogen to the vagina and urinary systems, resolving pain and dryness in both.
Most therapies involve multiple kinds of hormones. Doctors proscribe progestin, which replaces a hormone called progesterone. Progestin protects the uterus and resolves hot flashes.
Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy
Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy is a special kind of hormone therapy. It is for patients who suffer from extreme symptoms of menopause.
Most forms of hormone therapy use synthetic hormones. The body might reject these hormones, increasing the side effects of menopause.
Bio-identical therapy uses natural hormones synthesized from plants. The hormones are identical in molecular structure to natural human hormones.
You can take bio-identical therapy through pills, patches, and creams.
One popular form of bio-identical therapy uses hormone pellets. Pellets look similar to pills, but they are inserted into the skin. They provide a consistent dose of hormones into the bloodstream.
The major advantage of bio-identical hormones is that our body cannot tell the difference between natural and bio-identical hormones and has fewer contraindications. Direct delivery of hormones into the bloodstream reduces swings, eliminating side effects.
Taking Hormone Therapy for Menopause
If you notice symptoms of menopause, go to your doctor. Get a formal diagnosis before considering any additional treatment options. Having symptoms of menopause is usually enough for a diagnosis, but a doctor may ask for blood tests of your hormone levels.
Consider the different treatment options. Most people take estrogen pills as the primary method of hormone therapy. They take a pill once per day and track their symptoms with their doctor’s help.
If they need added support, they wear an estrogen patch. A patch is worn on the abdomen. Like a pellet, a patch provides a consistent dose of estrogen for as long as it is worn.
You can combine bio-identical treatments with synthetic ones. Make sure you are monitoring your estrogen levels. High estrogen levels can cause cancers on rare occasions.
While taking estrogen therapy, maintain a balanced diet and exercise routine. Strengthening your muscles reduces your chance of a bone fracture.
Try to get as much sleep as possible. If you suffer from night sweats, wear loose clothing and put on the air conditioning in your home. Sip cold water.
Hormone pellets are easy to remove. If you suffer from side effects, go to your doctor and get your pellet taken out. You can transition to creams or other solutions.
Get Menopause Relief Today
Menopause can be painful and isolating. But you can receive treatment. A bold and effective solution to menopause is hormone replacement therapy.
Symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, bone weakness, and mood swings. Hormone therapy provides estrogen that your body needs to function.
Bio-identical hormone therapy uses natural resources to match hormone molecules to your body. This reduces side effects and increases the hormone’s effectiveness.
Contact your doctor when you notice you might have menopause. Research the different treatment options carefully to understand which method might work best for your lifestyle and needs. Eat well and get good amounts of sleep while you are undergoing hormone therapy.
Most importantly, get help from the experts. Hormone therapy requires the close guidance and administration of a doctor. Blue Sky MD is North Carolina’s leading hormone therapy clinic with 5 locations in Asheville, Hendersonville, Charlotte, Greensboro, and Winston-Salem. If you’re wondering if hormone therapy is right for you, we’d be happy to help assess your needs.