Hormone replacement therapy has been helping women overcome their menopause symptoms since 1942, when the Food and Drug Administration first approved it. Since then, it has undergone countless clinical trials and has risen and dipped in popularity, but still remains the most effective treatment for menopause symptoms.
At Ethos Integrative Medicine, our naturopathic doctors understand the complexities of hormone imbalance during the menopausal years and know that your symptoms and health concerns are unique. They take the time to listen to your health story, your feelings, your fears, and your goals, and provide an individualized treatment plan just for you.
When it comes to menopause, they specialize in helping you understand your options and how you can reduce your symptoms through hormone replacement therapy. Here’s what you need to know.
A menopause primer
Whether you’re in the middle of menopause or it’s still on the horizon, you may have heard what to expect through the grapevine. Here are the facts:
- Menopause means the cessation of menstruation
- It is considered official if you haven’t had a period for 12 consecutive months
- It usually begins between the ages of 48-55, but not always
You may be less concerned about those facts than the following. The most common symptoms of menopause are:
- Mood swings
- Hot flashes
- Dry vagina
- Painful sex
- Night sweats
- Problems urinating
Now that you know what menopause is and what you can expect, here’s how hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help you diminish those symptoms.
The history of hormone replacement therapy
Almost 20 years before the first hormonal birth control pill became available in 1960, Premarin® came on the market as an effective treatment for night sweats and hot flashes in menopausal women. The name was derived from its source — pregnant mare urine.
In the 1970s, some research suggested that the estrogen doses put women at a higher risk for endometrial cancer, but with the addition of progesterone, the risk decreased.
In the 1980s and 1990s, more studies came out claiming that HRT actually had a health benefit beyond reduction of hot flashes and night sweats — it could protect women from deadly heart disease.
While the research continues, and the pendulum swings back and forth, one thing has remained steady — the effectiveness and growing popularity of HRT among menopausal women and their doctors, including Drs. Alexandra Mayer and Matthew Hernandez at Ethos Integrative Medicine.
How safe is hormone replacement therapy?
Nothing matters more to us than your safety and good health. We begin by giving you a thorough exam to get a good picture of your overall health before we recommend any treatments.
Several factors help determine whether HRT is a good choice. The younger you are and the closer you are to the onset of menopause, the more the benefits outweigh the risks of HRT.
If you are over 60 or it has been more than 10 years since you began menopause, we might look into alternative treatments for your symptoms. Also, women with a high risk of stroke or blood clots should probably not use HRT.
Benefits of HRT
If we decide together that HRT is right for you, you have options for how they get into your system. Hormone replacement therapy comes in a few different forms, including pills, sprays, gels, patches, and vaginal suppositories and rings.
Here’s what you can expect from your hormone replacement therapy.
Menopause symptom relief
The original purpose and still the most popular use for HRT is the relief of menopause symptoms, primarily hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, and mental fog.
Increased sex drive
Your sex drive naturally declines after menopause because your reproductive hormones drop off. In fact, 30-40% of women say they have a lower libido after menopause, and 44% of them opt for HRT with both progesterone and estrogen to increase their sex drive.
Decreased risk of osteoporosis
HRT has been shown to increase bone mineral density in postmenopausal women, which is important, as many older women suffer from bone loss. This can decrease your risk of fragile bone fracture by 20-30%.
Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. But if you’re plagued by night sweats and hot flashes, you may not be getting all the shut-eye you need, and that could lead to obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes.
Because HRT can help alleviate the symptoms of menopause, you can sleep more soundly and be in a better state to handle the emotional, mental, and physical demands of your daily life.
If you’re going through menopause or anticipate it soon, call us today to schedule a consultation or click the “Request Appointment” button. Relief from your menopause symptoms is an office visit away.