Hormone Replacement Therapy and the Menopause
05 July 2017 by - Dr Demetri C Panayi
When our menstrual cycle stops and we have entered the menopause, our hormone levels significantly drop, which often causes several uncomfortable symptoms such as hot flushes, vaginal dryness, night sweats, low libido, mood swings and more.
If you are desperately looking for relief from your menopausal symptoms then Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is a well-known and highly effective treatment, which can be prescribed to replace the female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone; the production of which is greatly reduced during the menopause.
What are the benefits of HRT?
HRT is currently the most effective treatment for menopausal symptoms and is particularly useful in helping alleviate hot flushes, vaginal dryness, incontinence and urinary tract infections. Oestrogen is also important in promoting healthy bone growth, so HRT treatment can also protect against osteoporosis, a condition which makes the bones brittle and weak. During the menopause, many women experience low libido and have reported an improved sex drive after starting HRT treatment.
Are there any risks?
Over the years, HRT has received a lot of negative press, with much misinformation being spread. While there are some risks, as with all medical treatments, the majority of women tend to find that HRT dramatically helps ease their menopause symptoms.
That being said, HRT slightly increases the chance of developing the following conditions; ovarian cancer, breast cancer, blood clots, heart disease, deep vein thrombosis and stroke. However, most medical experts will agree that if HRT is used for no more than five years, then the benefits certainly outweigh the potential risks.
How do I get started on HRT?
If you are experiencing troublesome menopausal symptoms, then talking to your doctor about your treatment options is the best course of action. When deciding whether HRT is right for you, your doctor will assess your lifestyle, age, symptoms and personal and family medical history.
There are several different ways of taking HRT, including tablets, skin patches, gels and IUD implants and again you can discuss with your GP which is best for you. The doctor should also outline the pros and cons to help you decide upon a reasonable treatment choice.
Though HRT is the most effective menopause treatment, there may be other things you can do to lessen your symptoms, such as making lifestyle or diet changes, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and even acupuncture or hypnosis.