Menopause is a natural period of transition when women stop menstruating. National Institute on Aging (NIH) defines menopause as the time when a woman has not had her period for 12 consecutive months. This transition typically occurs between 45 and 55 years old. Menopause can last anywhere from about seven to 14 years.
In some cases, menopause starts as the result of a hysterectomy or having your ovaries removed. Any time you have your ovaries or uterus removed, you will immediately start going through menopause. Induced menopause can also be brought on by chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Symptoms of menopause start occurring due to lower levels of testosterone, estrogen, Luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and progesterone. While there are many reasons women celebrate not having to deal with the cramps and discomfort that accompany a period, menopause can cause its own negative symptoms. WebMD reports the symptoms of menopause are hot flashes, vaginal dryness, depression, anxiety, night sweats, painful intercourse, insomnia, increased irritability, and frequent urination.
All women are different. Some women say they barely have any symptoms. Others complain that they are miserable. Fortunately, the women who suffer can undergo estrogen replacement therapy to calm the worst symptoms.
Patches Can Be Safer
Healthline promotes the use of patches as safer hormone therapy. It is safer than taking the pills since they have to be broken down in the liver. Another positive reason to consider using the patch is that studies have shown that it decreases the risk of stroke.
WebMD reports that 75 percent of women experience hot flashes. Night sweats are hot flashes at night and often drench your sheets so much that you have to change them in the middle of the night. Some women barely experience hot flashes while others have constant hot flashes.
It is common for the sweat to pour off of your body so much that you have to change clothes frequently. In severe cases, hot flashes will significantly impact your quality of life. WebMD claims that 25 to 30 percent of women fall in this category.
A hot flash may last up to five minutes, with some only lasting about a minute. Some women have 20 or 30 episodes in one day. Anyone who has been in a business meeting and had a hot flash during the meeting knows how disruptive and embarrassing this can be.
Estrogen Replacement Therapy
Mayo Clinic defines hormone replacement therapy as medication that consists of female hormones created to replace the hormones lost during menopause. This therapy eases hot flashes and pain during intercourse. Other residual benefits of estrogen replacement therapy are that it promotes bone health and is supposed to keep women from experiencing bone loss and fractures as they age.
Who Should Not Take Estrogen Replacement Therapy
The rule of thumb for deciding whether to use hormone therapy is to weigh the benefits and risks. This therapy isn’t the answer for everyone. Women who have medical histories that include cancer, blood clots present in the lungs or legs, liver disease, ovarian cancer, stroke, or undiagnosable vaginal bleeding should forego estrogen replacement therapy.
Women who started menopause after the age of 45 and who do not experience menopausal symptoms don’t need to take this therapy. Women under 45 should discuss ways to reduce risks associated with early menopause such as heart disease and osteoporosis. Risks increase at higher doses, as you get older and the longer you take the medication.
Other Important Considerations When Taking Estrogen Replacement Therapy
Women should consult with their doctors regularly to discuss treatment and dosage. It is important to re-evaluate on a regular basis. This therapy should be personalized based on a woman’s medical profile and symptoms. Hormone therapy comes in pill form, gel, cream, spray, and a skin patch. Women should take the lowest dose possible to get the results they want.
There is a lot of talk about estrogen replacement therapy for women who are in the throes of menopause. Menopausal symptoms can drive some women crazy. Hot flashes alone can make you put your head in the freezer to cool off.
It is so important to consult with a doctor before deciding whether estrogen replacement therapy is for you. The benefits are numerous if your profile is approved for this type of therapy. Call one of our counselors today at 205-352-9141.