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Can Hormone Replacement Therapy Eliminate My Menopausal Symptoms?

Can Hormone Replacement Therapy Eliminate My Menopausal Symptoms?

Some women breeze through menopause with mild, barely noticeable symptoms, and others enter this inevitable life stage feeling attacked by a barrage of physical and mental changes that make them miserable.

If you’re one of the latter, you’ve probably looked up how to relieve these disruptive symptoms and found more than a few articles about hormone replacement therapy (HRT). You’ve also probably read a few conflicting reports about what HRT can and can’t address and about whether it’s safe. 

There’s no better place to suss out the truth than The Endocrine Center in Houston, Texas. We’re hormone experts specializing in correcting hormone imbalances that occur in the body, including those that are the hallmark of menopause. 

Here, our team delves into the benefits and risks of HRT and what you can expect if you choose to use this therapy to relieve your menopause symptoms.

What happens to your hormones when you enter menopause?

The flood of hormones you experienced during adolescence that helped you develop breasts, hips, and a sex drive flips the script on you as you reach your 50s. For most women, the change takes place around ages 45-55, but the exact timing varies. 

The stage is called menopause because you stop menstruating, but anyone who’s been through it can tell you that your period isn’t the only thing you lose. 

The main driver is the reversal of hormone production. Your body slows the production of estrogen and progesterone, the two hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle, enable you to ovulate and conceive, lubricate your vaginal tissues, and keep your libido humming. 

You don’t stop making these hormones all at once — it’s a gradual process that can begin up to 10 years before the process shuts down altogether. The leading-up phase is called perimenopause, and it can make your period irregular and trigger menopause-like symptoms. 

When full-fledged menopause hits, your body may struggle to adjust to losing those hormones. For example, you may have any combination of the following symptoms to any degree of severity:

Low estrogen levels can even affect your bone health and make you more susceptible to osteoporosis and fractures. 

You can counteract some of these symptoms by changing your diet and exercise routine. Some women report that practicing mindfulness and yoga helps them cope with the discomfort. 

However, many women turn to hormone replacement therapy for more complete and longer-lasting relief. 

How hormone replacement therapy relieves menopause symptoms

The concept is simple: HRT replaces the hormones you’ve stopped producing to restore your body’s health and balance. 

However, HRT isn’t suitable for all women. The Endocrine Center physicians have extensive experience and stay abreast of the latest research, so you can rest assured that they won’t recommend hormone therapy for you if the risks outweigh the benefits. Here’s what you need to know about HRT:

Hormone replacement therapy is effective

HRT is the most effective treatment available for eliminating or reducing menopause symptoms, particularly hot flashes and vaginal dryness. However, low doses of vaginal estrogen work best on dryness, and high doses of estrogen work better for hot flashes, so our team works with you to find the right balance.

Your uterus matters

If your uterus is intact when you begin HRT, we typically prescribe an estrogen-progesterone combo medication because the progesterone can help prevent uterine cancer. If you’ve had a hysterectomy and no longer have a uterus, taking estrogen alone is safe.

Timing matters

HRT is safest and most effective for women 59 and younger who are healthy and experiencing moderate to severe menopause symptoms. It’s also best to start and stop HRT within 10 years of entering menopause. And you shouldn’t take HRT longer than five years.

Risks exist

HRT increases your risk of developing blood clots in your legs and lungs, much like birth control pills, but the risk is low if you’re 50-59. Also, the delivery format matters: Sprays, patches, and gels don’t carry this risk; oral HRT does. 

HRT also increases your risk of breast cancer, but only very slightly. If you’ve had breast cancer, we don’t recommend HRT, but most women never face this problem.

HRT may increase your risk for stroke, but again, only slightly. Healthy women younger than 60 have almost no risk. 

Does hormone replacement therapy work?

The good news is that the benefits far outweigh the rare risks for most women — and, yes, it works. 

For many women, HRT eliminates their menopausal symptoms; for some, it dramatically reduces them. If you have stubborn symptoms that don’t improve with HRT, we may prescribe supplemental treatments, such as antidepressants for depression or vaginal lubricants for dryness. 

We’ve covered the highlights of HRT here, but every woman is different, and we treat your symptoms based on all of the variables unique to you. 

Call The Endocrine Center at any of our three Houston, Texas, locations to schedule a consultation with one of our hormone experts to determine if HRT is right for you. You can also request an appointment online through this website.

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