Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a safe, effective treatment approved by the FDA to help ease severe perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms in women. Men, too, can be treated with HRT such as when they trouble with issues relating to low testosterone. However, the treatment is commonly associated with menopausal women who require a boost in the sex hormones estrogen or progesterone.
Not every woman who experiences severe menopausal symptoms is required to take hormones neither is HRT right for everyone. During a medical evaluation your doctor can help determine if hormone replacement is safe for you.
Benefits of Hormone Replacement Therapy in Women
The average woman who takes hormone replacement during perimenopause or menopause does so to help alleviate the following symptoms:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Irregular bleeding
- Mood swings
As a result of taking HRT, some women are also able to sleep better and see improvement in their moods and sex drive (libido). A boost in hormone levels can help reduce the risk of colon cancer and osteoporosis. Studies also show that estrogen-alone hormone replacement therapy may help protect against breast cancer. However, these are by-the-way benefits that are not indicated as reasons to get HRT.
Risks of Hormone Replacement Therapy in Women
Estrogen-alone therapy (ET) and estrogen with progesterone therapy (EPT) are the two types of hormone treatments. ET is indicated in women who had their uterus removed (hysterectomy). Women with their uterus intact must be treated with EPT. Estrogen-alone therapy can increase the risk of uterine cancer in women who still have their uterus.
Further, studies suggest the HRT places women at risk of heart attack and stroke, particularly where treatment extends for more than five years. The risk of heart attack is said to be greater in the first year of treatment.
Who Should Not Be Treated with Hormone Therapy
Replacement hormones are administered through prescription pills, skin patches, vaginal rings, sprays, gels, or creams. However, women who have or are at risk of the following conditions should not be treated with HRT:
- Uterine Cancer
- Breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Heart attack or stroke
- Liver disease
- Blood clots in the lungs or legs
- Unexplained vaginal bleeding
Hormone replacement therapy is considered safe for women who have a clear-cut need for this treatment, do not have medical conditions that bar them from treatment, and in whom the benefits outweigh the risks. Your doctor or gynecologist will need to consider your medical history to decide if you should receive estrogen alone or a combination of estrogen and progesterone.
If you are interested in the Birmingham area and interested in learning more about hormone replacement therapy, contact us at 205-352-9141 to set up a free consultation.