For people who are really starting to feel the effect of aging on their bodies, it can be difficult to sustain the same type of lifestyle as you have become accustomed to. Memory loss, decreased sex drive, and menopause symptoms can really affect your overall quality of life. Luckily there are options available to help combat these issues and one of the most popular is a treatment known as hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Hormone Replacement Therapy involves taking small doses of hormones in order to increase the quality of life for aging adults. The main hormones involved include estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone (for men). As you get older, your hormones no longer circulate at the same rate causing discomfort and a wide array of possible negative effects such as dementia.
Hormone replacement therapy is most commonly used by women going through menopause. During the earlier stages in life, estrogen and progesterone are produced naturally by women by the ovaries. Once you start going through menopause however, that production eventually stops. Menopause can cause drastic changes in the life of women such as hot flashes, osteoporosis as a result of bone loss, and vaginal dryness to name a few.
In order to minimize these effects, many doctors in the U.S. recommend Hormone replacement therapy in order to make up for the estrogen and progesterone that women lose through the aging process and menopause. It’s important to note that hormone replacement therapy does not completely stop all effects of menopause as it is a natural process that all women experience. However, HRT has been proven to decrease the health risks involved with menopause such as heart disease, strokes, and bone loss.
Is Hormone Replacement Therapy Right for You?
While HRT is a great option for many women (millions of patients use HRT), it is not necessarily the best option or necessary for everyone. The symptoms of menopause can be discomforting for some people, not all women experience bothersome issues. For these women, HRT probably would not be necessary as they could continue going on living a normal life with minimal changes. If you’re experiencing minimal symptoms or discomfort as a result of menopause, there are other less affective alternatives to hormone replacement therapy that might better suit your needs. Some non-hormonal options available include bellergal which helps aid against hot flashes, raloxifene to fight osteoporosis, and over the counter pain relievers to lessen any pain or discomfort. It is best to consult your doctor to see what the best option is for you.
Another option that you may have heard of to help fight the symptoms of menopause is soy. Some people believe a diet rich in soy can help to lower cholesterol, decrease hot flashes, and help fight osteoporosis. However, there hasn’t been any definitive evidence to back these claims and in fact some studies have shown that women who intake higher amounts of soy are more susceptible to certain cancers.
Usually, women experiencing more severe symptoms such as hot flashes and have heart issues can benefit greatly from HRT. HRT is also a viable option for women who experience menopause earlier on in life. By beginning your hormone replacement therapy, you will decrease the chance of experiencing onset osteoporosis and reduce the chances of developing certain cancers and heart issues later on in life. Also, for younger women who never fully developed through puberty, HRT can help them to develop more.
How HRT is taken
Human replacement therapy is available in several forms. This gives you the option to choose a method that you feel most comfortable with. Below are choices you have for receiving your hormone replacement therapy.
Orally with tablets: For oral tablets, patients typically consume the estrogen in cycles of 28 days. Some of these tablets have progesterone included in the formula as well or it must be taken separately. During these cycles, it’s typical for women to experience vaginal bleeding much like a monthly period. The bleeding typically takes placed towards the end of the cycle. If you experience heavy bleeding consult your doctor.
Patches: Your HRT may also come in the form of little adhesive patches that are typically worn on the thigh. They contain either just estrogen or a combination of estrogen and progestin that periodically release safe levels of the hormones into the skin similar to how nicotine patches work. You just must remember to change these patches according to the directions to ensure a steady flow of hormones.
Implants: Hormonal implants are small pellets that are implanted under the skin usually in the buttocks or abdominal area. The upside to implants is that they can last from 4-8 months so you don’t have to constantly remember to take pills or apply gels. However, women typically do have to take estrogen tablets for the first couple of weeks of receiving the implant.
Creams and Gels: There are many estrogen creams and gels available today. Estrogen gel is applied directly to the skin and is usually one of the easiest methods to perform your HRT. The creams are applied vaginally and help reduce vaginal dryness and travels throughout the blood stream. The downside of gels and creams is that they do not fight against osteoporosis.