In recent years, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) success stories have been vocal about their positive experiences with this menopausal treatment, reporting relief from hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, and low libido. However, women who are considering this option should weigh the pros and cons carefully before starting treatment, as it has been linked with some serious side effects and health risks. Read on to learn more about HRT.
Decoding HRT and Menopause
During menopause, the female body begins to slow production of essential hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone to prepare for the end of fertility. This drastic drop in hormone production causes a wide range of physical and emotional side effects in their bodies.
HRT solves the problem of diminished hormone production by introducing synthetic estrogens and progesterone into the body to treat hormonal imbalance. HRT treatments come in the form of pills, patches, rings, and creams and can be prescribed by a healthcare professional. Sounds simple enough, but here are three things should consider before taking HRT.
Estrogen-only or estrogen plus progestin?
The choice between estrogen-only and estrogen plus progestin (synthetic estrogen) is a simple one. Women who have had a hysterectomy should use estrogen-only HRT treatments, while women who have not had a hysterectomy should choose estrogen plus progestin.
Dependency and side effects
Because HRT treatments introduce synthetic hormones into your body to mimic the effects of natural hormones, your body may become dependent on these foreign hormones. This can cause women to experience equal or more severe menopausal symptoms (hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings) when discontinuing HRT treatment.
Length and dosage of treatment
Due to the findings of recent medical studies, experts recommend discontinuing the use of HRT treatments after a period of 5-7 years. That's because long-term usage of HRT has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease, stroke and blood clotting in women. Experts furthermore recommend taking the lowest possible dosage of HRT to avoid developing a high dependency on foreign hormones.
The side effects and health risks of HRT can be scary for women. Fortunately, women can opt to make simple lifestyle changes and use herbal supplements to treat their menopausal symptoms in a safe and natural way. Take charge of your health by consulting with a healthcare professional to find the treatment that's right for you. Click on the following link to learn more about treatments for menopause.
- BMJ Group. "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007.
- Hopkins, Virginia. Lee, John R. M.D. What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause. New York: Warner Books Inc., 1996.
- Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
- Martin, Raquel. The Estrogen Alternative. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2000.