Due to changing hormone levels, it’s not uncommon for women to experience a variety of symptoms during menopause, including hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, pain during sex, chills, mood changes, and difficulty sleeping.
For some women these symptoms are mild, but for others, these symptoms really interfere with life. Hormone replacement therapy is a medication that can be used to replace the estrogen that your body stops producing in menopause. Hormone replacement therapy can be a helpful way to relieve hot flashes and other menopause symptoms, and may also protect against osteoporosis. That said, there are some drawbacks to this treatment, and some cases where it may not be a good fit.
Hormone replacement therapy comes in different forms.
Estrogen therapy is one type of hormone replacement therapy. Given in a low dose, estrogen therapy is available as a pill, a patch that’s placed on the abdomen, and as a topical gel, cream, or spray. If someone is suffering from vaginal burning, dryness, or itchiness, their physician may prescribe a vaginal estrogen that’s available as a tablet, vaginal ring, or cream.
Another option for hormone replacement therapy is typically called combination therapy. Like its name suggests, this medication combines estrogen and progestin, which is a synthetic form of progesterone. Combination therapy is frequently used as a type of birth control, but can also treat menopause symptoms.
Hormone replacement therapy isn’t for everyone.
Hormone replacement therapy isn’t advised if you have a history or family history of liver disease, blood clots, certain types of cancers, heart attack or stroke. It’s also not recommended if you have problems with vaginal bleeding or think you may be pregnant.
Here are the risks.
Hormone replacement therapy comes with some risks, though these often vary depending on a woman’s lifestyle and medical history. Additionally, the level of risk varies depending on the type of hormone replacement therapy that’s taken. It is believed that hormone replacement therapy may increase the risk of heart attacks, blood clots, strokes, breast cancer, and gallbladder disease in some women.
Another point to keep in mind is that the risks of hormone replacement therapy are higher among women over the age of 60 and among women who start hormone replacement therapy more than 10 years after the onset of menopause.
If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.