Is Hormone Replacement Therapy Right For Me?
Have you hit the stage in life where hot flashes abound and your menstrual cycle is inconsistent or even nonexistent? With all of these changes taking place in your body, your OB/GYN may be recommending something called hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
If you’re asking yourself, “What is hormone replacement therapy and do I need it?” you’re not alone. So let’s find out together.
What is Hormone Replacement Therapy?
It’s a type of treatment that replaces key hormones like estrogen and progesterone for women going through menopause—most often used for women in their 40s. HRT is known to reduce the side effects of menopause such as vaginal discomfort, hot flashes, and osteoporosis.
The Different Types of HRT
Systemic hormone therapy—also referred to as estrogen therapy—is probably the most common form of treatment. This therapy provides estrogen in a pill, patch, cream, or spray form to help replenish your body’s supply—helping reduce hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal issues associated with menopause like itching, burning, and dryness.
Low-dose vaginal products are another form of estrogen that can be used as a cream, tablet, or ring. This type of treatment helps with vaginal and urinary symptoms but does not protect against hot flashes or night sweats.
Progestin hormone therapy is a combination of estrogen and progesterone but can only be used if you have a uterus; otherwise, there is an increased risk of cancer.
Who Needs It
If you’re experiencing any of the following issues you may want to talk to your doctor about hormone replacement therapy:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Loss of bone mass
Premature menopause—when your periods stop before age 40
There are medical risks to be aware of if you’re considering a combination therapy like progestin, such as an increased risk for:
- Heart Disease
- Blood Clots
- Breast Cancer*
*Adding a combination of hormones back into your system can make your breasts appear denser, making breast cancer harder to detect on mammograms.
Talk to Your Doctor
Hormone replacement therapy can offer relief for many menopausal issues, but it’s important that you understand the potential risks involved with this treatment. As always, your OB/GYN is a great resource if you have questions. They will be able to guide you through the process of determining whether or not this medication is right for you.