Hormone replacement therapy, also known by its acronym HRT, is a treatment for women who are experiencing decreasing hormone levels due to menopause.
Menopause is the period of time when a woman’s menstrual cycle ceases its physical functionality. Menopause advances over time beginning with the perimenopause stage which is the transitional stage that leads up to menopause. Mild symptoms may surface perimenopause and then become more severe during menopause. After a woman’s menstrual period stops, hormone levels fall causing one or more of the following symptoms:
- Hot Flashes & Night Sweats
- Vaginal Dryness, Bleeding & Atrophy
- Frequent Urination & Urinary Tract Infections
- Decreased Libido & Painful Intercourse
- Insomnia, Depression & Mood Swings
- Skin & Hair Changes
The average age of menopause is 51 and at the conclusion of menopause, it marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years.
Because of the decreased production of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone which cause these symptoms, Dr. Ward may recommend one or more of the available hormone replacement therapies.
Typical therapies include the introduction of estrogen and/or progestin (a form of progesterone). When both estrogen and progestin are being used during treatment is referred to “combined therapy” or simply “hormone therapy.” When estrogen is prescribed without progestin, it is referred to as an “estrogen-only” therapy.
The methods of therapy include oral medication, patches, sprays and gels. These methods are used as systemic therapies that enter into the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body. Women who experience vaginal dryness may be prescribed a local estrogen therapy. Different from systemic therapies,local therapies release estrogen directly into the vaginal tissue in the form of creams, vaginal rings, or tablets.
BENEFITS AND RISKS
Hormone therapy is known to provide the following relief to women who suffer from perimenopause or menopausal symptoms:
- Relief from hot flashes and night sweats.
- Relief of vaginal dryness and decreased bleeding.
- Decreased urinary complications.
- Increased libido.
- Decreased feelings of depression and moodiness.
- Normalization of hair and skin conditions.
These benefits are a few of the benefits of HRT but they do not come without risks. Risks include:
- Heart disease
- Blood clots
- Breast cancer
In times past, HRT was proscribed frequently to treat menopause symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness. In recent years, however, studies have shown that there are risks to the therapy. Dr. Ward reviews each patient’s health history, discuss the benefits and risks of HRT, and determine the best treatment for the individual.
If you are experiencing symptoms of perimenopause or menopause, give Dr. Ward a call for an appointment.