Whether or not to go on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a complex and personal decision that involves carefully weighing the risks and benefits for each individual. HRT can provide significant relief of symptoms for those experiencing issues like hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and sleep disturbances during menopause. However, HRT also comes with potential side effects and long-term health impacts that should factor into the decision making process.
When evaluating if HRT is right for you, it's important to understand all it entails. The goal of HRT is to supplement declining estrogen and progesterone levels that occur naturally during perimenopause and menopause. It is commonly prescribed and administered as estrogen alone for women who have had hysterectomies, or as a combination of estrogen and progesterone for those who still have a uterus to help prevent uterine cancer. HRT is available as pills, skin patches, gels, sprays and vaginal rings/tablets.
Benefits of HRT:
- Relieves hot flashes and night sweats
- Reduces vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex
- Prevents bone loss and fractures
- Improves mood, sleep and energy levels
- May reduce risk of colon cancer
The benefits often outweigh the risks for many women battling moderate to severe menopause symptoms, especially in the few years right after menopause begins. For these women, HRT can provide enhanced quality of life
Risks of HRT:
- Slightly increases the risk of breast cancer, strokes, blood clots and gallbladder disease
- Does not prevent heart disease or improve memory
- Questions about cognitive impact and risk of dementia
These risks are often increased for women who take HRT for more than 5 years, which is why duration of usage should be a part of decision making discussions with your doctor. For some at high risk of breast cancer or heart disease, the risks may outweigh benefits altogether. Genetic screening in some cases can detect increased risks.
Alternatives to Treat Symptoms Without HRT:
There are non-hormonal treatment options that may provide relief of menopausal symptoms without negatively impacting health in the long run. These include:
- Antidepressants and anti-seizure medications
- Vaginal lubricants and moisturizers
- Regular exercise
- Stress reduction techniques
- Dietary supplements like phytoestrogens, black cohosh, vitamin E and specialty menopausal health supplements
For those seeking safe and effective hormone therapy
, Equilibrium Hormone Institute
provides customized bioidentical hormone
treatments to help relieve symptoms and enhance health during menopause and beyond. Our experienced medical team analyzes your unique hormone levels, health status and family history to develop HRT regimens using natural plant-derived hormones identical to those made by the body. Contact us today for your free consultation.
The choice of whether or not to use HRT depends most importantly on each woman's severity of symptoms and personal health profile. Have an open and informed conversation with your doctor regarding the pros and cons to determine if hormone therapy - especially short term usage
- would benefit your menopause transition and ability to thrive in your 50s and beyond! Monitor closely for side effects and get regular health screenings for optimal safety if you do undertake HRT.