Menopause is a time of transition during which women gradually become infertile. During this time, hormone levels naturally fluctuate and decline.
Hormonal fluctuations usually result in uncomfortable symptoms, so women may seek relief from menopausal symptoms, since they can get in the way of both work and family life. There are many different treatments that can be used to combat the symptoms of menopause. In cases of more severe or persistent symptoms, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be a suitable solution. Read on to learn more about HRT as an option during menopause.
What Is HRT?
HRT introduces external hormones, usually extracted from horse urine, into the body. Treatments are available with estrogen only, estrogen and progesterone, and in some cases, testosterone. These outside hormones compensate for a deficiency of hormones in the body, alleviating menopausal symptoms caused by declining hormones.
The hormones used, dosage taken, and duration of treatment vary from woman to woman, depending on the doctor's prescription.
What Are the Benefits of HRT?
HRT is fast-acting compared to other treatment options for menopause, like lifestyle adjustments and alternative medicine. It is also easier to take a pill than to implement lifestyle changes and new habits. HRT works to alleviate all symptoms related to hormonal decline during menopause, and in the majority of cases, it provides timely relief.
What Are the Risks of HRT?
Like any medication, HRT carries risks and has disadvantages. The Women's Health Initiative (WHI), a nationwide clinical trial carried out in the U.S., has established HRT's link to adverse side effects like headaches, nausea, and vomiting, in addition to an increased risk of stroke, heart disease, blood clots, and various forms of reproductive cancer.
In addition to the severe potential side effects, HRT also has other downsides. As a result of introducing external hormones into the system over an extended period of time, the body may become less capable of producing its own natural hormones. This can generate the need for the medication to be taken over a long period.
Before turning to this expensive and potentially risky treatment method, it is important to compare the benefits and risks. It is also best to try other options, such as lifestyle changes and herbal supplements, before deciding to begin HRT.
Click on the following link for more information on other treatments for menopause symptoms.
- 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.