When women approach menopause, they experience a number of unpleasant symptoms. The estrogen level starts falling resulting in hot flashes, mood swings and vaginal dryness. Heat starts rising in the face, chest and head which is closely followed by perspiration or chills. A dry vagina leads to urination problems and painful sex. These vasomotor symptoms can last between few months to few years.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) provides relief from menopause symptoms. It helps by balancing the levels of estrogen and progesterone. Both these hormones are important with respect to a woman’s reproductive system. With aging, the number of eggs produced by an ovary diminishes and some women start experiencing perimenopausal symptoms.
Some symptoms of menopause:
- Vaginal dryness
- Sleep problems
- Thinning hair
- Difficulty concentrating
Common Types of HRT:
The types differ by the combination of hormones used and the way the hormones are administered. Estrogen-only HRT is given to women who have undergone hysterectomy and don’t require progesterone. Sequential HRT is used on menstruating women with perimenopausal symptoms. In Continuous HRT, a combination of estrogen and progesterone is used on women going through menopause. Local estrogen involves the usage of vaginal creams, tablets and rings.
Who shouldn’t take HRT?
- Those with a history of ovarian cancer and breast cancer
- High blood pressure that is left untreated
- Liver disease
- Pregnant women
Getting started on HRT
Your general physician would guide you through it. You can start taking it after the onset of menopausal symptoms and no initial tests are required. Your GP will let you know the available types which works best for you. You will be prescribed small dosages initially and gradually the dosage will be increased.
Previously HRT was more widely used for treating menopause symptoms and osteoporosis. Its benefits started being questioned after studies from 2002 and 2003 showed that HRT may be linked to breast cancer, stroke and heart diseases. The studies didn’t shed light on how safe or unsafe this therapy is.
Further investigations prove that there was a rise in 1 case of breast cancer for every 1000 women. Though some amount of confusion still prevails, further studies prove that the benefits outweigh the possible risks.
Studies done on 2012 claims HRT may:
- Improve muscle function
- Reduces the risks associated with heart failures
- Is quite effective in delaying skin aging
Combining HRT with natural remedies to combat menopause symptoms proves efficient too. Those who can’t take HRT can make small lifestyle changes instead.