In The Years Leading Up To Menopause
Most women experience a transitional phase called perimenopause, when the changing levels in estrogen and progesterone can bring about a variety of physical and emotional symptoms, including hot flashes, sleep changes, night sweats, instability of mood, or vaginal dryness. In order to manage these symptoms, some women choose to undergo hormone therapy, a form of treatment that uses medications containing estrogen and/or progestogen to replace the ones that the body no longer makes and to reduce or stop short-term changes associated with menopause.
Hormone Therapy Treatment
Patients undergoing hormone therapy regularly take medications that are carefully formulated to replace hormones that are no longer being produced by the body. By maintaining hormone levels, this form of therapy may help relieve hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness or dyspareunia (pain with sexual activity). Studies have also found that hormone therapy may reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis, a debilitating condition wherein the bones become thin, brittle, and easily broken. Hormone therapy can be administered in a variety of different ways:
Hormone Therapy FAQs
As with any medicine or treatment, hormone therapy is not without risks. In some rare cases, hormone therapy has been found to increase the chances of developing blood clots, heart attacks, strokes, breast cancer, and gallbladder disease. For a woman with a uterus, estrogen may also increase the chance of getting endometrial cancer (cancer of the uterine lining). Adding progestin has been found to lower this risk.
Hormone therapy is only suitable for women who are significantly bothered by menopause symptoms and who require the treatment in order to alleviate potential health concerns. It should be avoided by women with current or a past history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, blood clots in the legs or lungs, or stroke. If you are not a candidate for hormone therapy you should instead talk to your doctor about strategies that can help reduce the risk of conditions like osteoporosis and heart disease, which may include lifestyle changes and medications other than hormone therapy for long-term protection.