Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy or HRT is a therapy that is used for the treatment of symptoms and signs of menopause. HRT replaces hormones, the levels of which reduce in your body when you reach the age of menopause.
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Hormone Replacement Therapy Q & A
Q1. What are the benefits or advantages of hormone replacement therapy?
The main advantage of hormone replacement therapy is that it helps in relieving most of your menopause symptoms, including:
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings
- Night Sweats
- Dryness of the vagina
- A reduced desire to have sex
Many of the symptoms and signs of menopause get better over a few years; however, they may cause great mental and physical distress in some women. If you are also suffering from unpleasant menopause symptoms then taking hormone replacement therapy can offer you relief from these symptoms.
It may also help in preventing the occurrence of osteoporosis or weakening of bones that is quite common in women after they reach menopause age.
Q2. How to start hormone replacement therapy?
If you want to start hormone replacement therapy, talk to your physician. You can usually start HRT as you begin experiencing menopause symptoms after discussing with your physician. Though the average age of menopause in women in the USA is 51 years, you can start having symptoms of menopause between the age of 45 and 55 years.
Your physician will explain to you the different kinds of hormone replacement therapy available and also help you in choosing the one that best suits you. They will start you on a low dose of HRT and then increase it gradually. You may notice the effects of therapy after a few weeks. Moreover, initially, you may experience some adverse effects.
Your physician will advise you to try the hormone replacement therapy for three months initially to see if it improves your symptoms. If there is no improvement in your symptoms and signs of menopause, they may change the dose or the type of hormone replacement therapy you have been taking.
Q3. Who all can take hormone replacement therapy?
Most females who are suffering from symptoms and signs of menopause can take hormone replacement therapy. But you can’t take HRT if you:
- Have a personal history of cancer of the breast
- Have a personal history of blood clots
- Have disease of the liver
- Have untreated/uncontrolled hypertension; you have to control your blood pressure before starting hormone replacement therapy
- Are pregnant; there is a possibility of getting pregnant while you are on HRT; hence, you must use contraception for two years after you had your last menses if your age is less than 50 years or for one year if your age is greater than 50 years
In these cases, your doctor may recommend alternatives to hormone replacement therapy to relieve menopause symptoms.
Q4. What are the different types of hormone replacement therapy?
There are various types of hormone replacement therapy and it may be tricky to find the correct one to relieve your menopause symptoms.
The different types are as follows:
- Hormone replacement therapy hormones: Most females take estrogen and progesterone hormones in combination, although females who don’t have their uterus can also take only estrogen.
- Different methods of taking hormone replacement therapy: Your physician can prescribe you HRT in the form of oral tablets, gels, skin patches, and vaginal pessaries, creams or rings.
- Hormone replacement therapy regimens: You can take hormone replacement therapy continuously without giving it a break. It can also be taken in cycles where you have to take estrogen hormone continuously and take progesterone only at an interval of every few weeks.
Your physician will help you in choosing the type of hormone replacement therapy that is best for you according to your symptoms and medical history. You may have to take greater than one type of HRT before deciding on the type that suits you.
Q5. When should you stop hormone replacement therapy?
You should talk to your physician regarding the duration for which you have to take the treatment. Most females stop taking HRT once their symptoms and signs of menopause get better, which usually occurs after a few years.
You can stop taking HRT gradually or suddenly; however, it is recommended to decrease the dose of HRT gradually as doing so prevents the recurrence of menopause symptoms in the short term.
Q6. What are the side effects and risks of hormone replacement therapy?
As happens with any other medicine, hormone replacement therapy can also cause certain side effects. However, these usually get better within three to four months of beginning treatment.
Some of the common adverse effects of HRT are:
- Tenderness of breasts
- Pain in the abdomen
- Vaginal bleeding
Some kinds of hormone replacement therapy may also slightly increase your risk of developing breast cancer and blood clots. However, it is felt that the benefits of hormone replacement therapy generally outweigh its risk. But talk to your physician if you have any doubts or concerns regarding taking hormone replacement therapy.
Q7. What are the lifestyle measures to manage menopause symptoms?
You can take the following lifestyle measure to help reduce your symptoms and signs of menopause:
- Do regular exercise as it helps in reducing hot flashes and improving sleep. It also helps in improving your mood in case you feel irritable, depressed or anxious due to menopause. Doing weight-bearing exercises also helps in maintaining the strength of your bones.
- Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet.
- Stay cool especially at night by wearing loose and comfortable clothes made of cotton. Make sure that your bedroom is cool and well-ventilated.
- Reduce your intake of alcohol, spicy food and caffeine as they can trigger hot flashes.
- Reduce stress levels by getting enough rest and practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga, breathing exercises, meditation, and tai chi.
- If you are a smoker then quit smoking.
- Use vaginal lubricants in case you are experiencing dryness of the vagina.
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