Hormone replacement therapy is a form of medication consisting of female hormones. It is used to manage menopausal symptoms and preserve long-term health. The therapy helps replace the estrogen that the body stops making when you hit menopause, and therefore it helps treat menopause symptoms like hot flashes. Hormone replacement therapy is also used to treat bone loss and reduce the chances of fractures in women who have reached menopause.
Hormone therapy should be tailored to an individual’s needs to prevent risks and ensure the best results. The doctor should also reassess it often to ensure its benefits outweigh the risks.
Types of hormone replacement therapies
As earlier mentioned, hormone therapy replaces the estrogen the body no longer makes after menopause. The basic types of estrogen therapy include:
- Systemic hormone therapy that comes in the form of a pill, spray, cream, skin patch, ring, or gel. It consists of a dose of estrogen absorbed in the body to remedy the symptoms of menopause.
- Low-dose vaginal preparations of estrogen are in the form of tablets or cream used to remedy the vaginal and urinary symptoms of menopause.
Is hormone therapy right for you?
You may benefit from hormone therapy if you have the following symptoms.
- Menopausal symptoms such as vagina dryness, itching, burning, and discomfort with intercourse. Estrogen can ease such discomfort.
- Severe or moderate hot flashes- estrogen therapy has proven effective in alleviating menopausal hot flashes and night sweats.
- Osteoporosis- this is a bone-thinning disease that comes with age. Oestrogen can help if you are not benefitting from other treatment options.
- You have estrogen deficiency or experience early menopause- if you have lost function of your ovaries early, typically before 40, or experienced premature menopause, estrogen therapy is beneficial.
Risks of hormone therapy
According to studies, hormone replacement therapy may increase the risks of some conditions, including:
- Blood clots.
- Heart disease.
- Breast cancer.
These risks differ depending on the type of hormone therapy, the patient’s age, and health history. That is why the doctor needs to review your health history to determine if the treatment is right for you.
How to reduce the risks
- Identify the best delivery method for you- there are different ways to deliver estrogen into your body, including a pill, gel, vaginal cream, patch, ring, or a slow-release suppository placed in your vagina. Discuss with your doctor the best delivery method for your needs.
- Reduce the amount of medication you take- it is best to use the lowest effective dose in the shortest time needed to treat your symptoms. Ask your doctor to recommend a long-term treatment option if you experience severe symptoms.
- Follow up with your therapy doctor regularly to ensure the benefits of the therapy outweigh the risks.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle, like eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and limiting alcohol and smoking. You should also find ways to manage stress and other health conditions.
It is best to consult extensively with your doctor to determine if hormone therapy is right for you. Ensure your doctor is aware of your symptoms and health history beforehand.