You may have heard it called “the change,” but no matter what it’s called, menopause often leads to a number of sometimes uncomfortable symptoms. Could hormone replacement therapy help you find relief?
That answer varies from woman to woman, but for many women, the answer is yes.
That’s why the team at West Tennessee Medical Group GYN Specialists wants to offer some insight into menopause and how its effects can be treated and managed. Read on as we take a look.
We often think of menopause as when a woman’s menstrual cycle ends. To be precise, though, a woman is considered to be in menopause 12 months after her last period.
The average woman has her last period at age 51, but anywhere from age 45 to 55 is also considered normal.
This occurs when the ovaries stop making enough estrogen to thicken the lining of the uterus, which in turn causes menstrual periods to stop. At that point, there’s no longer a build-up of uterine lining to shed each month.
Menopause can also occur when a woman’s ovaries are surgically removed, such as during a radical hysterectomy.
The Symptoms of Menopause
Menopause is part of the aging process. But that doesn’t mean that the symptoms it brings with it have to be an accepted part of the process—there are ways to find relief!
We mentioned above that your estrogen levels dropping are the contributing factor to your periods stopping. That drop in estrogen, along with other hormonal changes, leads to change in a woman’s body, which can differ from woman to woman.
For some women, these changes may be very minor and almost unnoticeable, but for other women, they can be very difficult to cope with.
Women going through menopause may experience:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats or chills
- Vaginal dryness, pain or burning
- Pain during intimacy
- Decreased desire for intimacy
- Decreased response during intimacy
- Decreased frequency of intimacy
- Anxiety or irritability
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleep difficulties
- Joint pain or stiffness
- Weight gain
Because every woman experiences menopause differently, you may have few or many of these symptoms.
How Hormone Replacement Therapy Can Help
Hormone replacement therapy, sometimes referenced as HRT, has been around in some form for many decades. It originated in the 1960s and became incredibly popular in the 1990s.
Traditionally, hormone replacement therapy was offered in two main forms—oral medication and patches that are applied to the skin. In more recent years, what’s known as “bioidentical” hormone replacement has gained in popularity.
This type of hormone replacement involves using compounds with an identical chemical and molecular structure to hormones produced by the human body. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy uses this approach to supplement progesterone, estradiol, estrone and/or estriol in a woman’s body.
A new innovation, known as pellet hormone replacement therapy, is making waves today in helping alleviating symptoms in menopausal women. In this type of hormone replacement therapy, pellets made of compounded estradiol from organic plant materials are inserted under the skin.
These pellets then release small amounts of hormone directly in the bloodstream that naturally mimic what the ovaries produced during a woman’s younger years. This has been shown to help ease symptoms, increase energy and improve libido.
Who Is Hormone Replacement Therapy Right For?
Any woman going through menopause may be a candidate for hormone replacement therapy. Work with your doctor to determine whether this option is right for you and for alleviating your individual symptoms.
It’s important to note that hormone replacement therapy is not an option for everyone, though. It is typically not recommended for women who have problems with vaginal bleeding, who have had certain types of cancer, who have had a stroke or heart attack, who have had blood clots, or who have had liver disease.
For most women who are healthy and without a history of chronic or acute medical conditions, hormone replacement therapy can be a valid and helpful option for alleviating uncomfortable symptoms and improving quality of life.
West Tennessee Medical Group GYN Specialists specializes in providing gynecological care, including hormone replacement therapy services for menopausal women. To schedule an appointment with Jeffrey Ball, MD, Donald Wilson, MD, or Amy White, NP, call (731) 660-3344.