Hormone Therapy: Is It Right For You?

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When there is a decrease in hormones in the body, women face several uncomfortable symptoms. These symptoms are the signs of the onset of menopause. Women after the age of 40-45 start getting the symptoms that go on to last for some years until their menstrual cycle stops completely.

To get relief from the discomfort of the symptoms, women go for hormone replacement therapy. Depending on the medical history and severity of the symptoms, a certified medical practitioner will prescribe the right type of hormone therapy.

This article will discuss whether hormone therapy is the right choice for you. In addition, we will provide details about the therapy, its benefits, and who should avoid it.

What is Hormone Therapy?

Women’s bodies naturally produce estrogen and progesterone hormones. These are essential for regulating the menstrual cycle and for keeping a healthy balance in the body. 

However, after a certain age, the body slows down the production of these hormones, and women start to see the changes in their bodies.

Hormone therapy can help women cope with the symptoms of menopause by improving the hormone levels in the body. The hormones estrogen and progesterone are administered externally in hormone therapy. 

There are different types of hormone therapy, and a certified specialist can help you choose the best suitable treatment.

What is the Function of Hormones?

Estrogen and progesterone play vital roles in the female body and help maintain overall health. Below are the functions of estrogen and progesterone.

Function of Estrogen

  • It prepares the uterus for the implantation of a fertilized egg and thickens the uterus wall.
  • Regulates the level of cholesterol in the blood
  • Helps maintain vaginal health
  • Prevents osteoporosis by influencing the use of calcium in the body

Functions of Progesterone

  • It helps regulate sleep
  • Prevents mood swings
  • Maintain the body during pregnancy
  • Helps prepare the wall of the uterus for implantation

Symptoms of Menopause

Women face several symptoms, and they can vary from person to person. Some might experience most of the symptoms, and others might only have milder symptoms. Below are some of the symptoms of menopause.

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Weight gain
  • Uncomfortable or painful sexual intercourse
  • Sleeping problems
  • Frequent changes in mood
  • Dryness in the vaginal area
  • Mild depression
  • Dry skin

Hormone Therapy for Women

The therapy differs depending on whether a woman has her uterus or has undergone a hysterectomy. But, first, let’s take a look at the difference between hormone therapy given to women with and without their uterus.

Hormone Therapy for Women with Uterus

Women with their uterus intact have to take progesterone and estrogen to reduce the risk of endometrial cancer. 

The endometrium is the uterus lining that thickens and sheds during the menstrual cycle. As women won’t have menstruation during menopause, the shedding will stop. However, taking estrogen will cause the endometrium cells to overgrow, leading to cancer.

Taking progesterone prevents the thickening of the endometrium lining and reduces the risk of uterine cancer

Progesterone may or may not cause bleeding, depending on the type of hormone therapy. Women can also prevent bleeding completely by taking both hormones together regularly.

Hormone Therapy for Women without Uterus

Women who have undergone a hysterectomy and have removed their ovaries and uterus can have estrogen hormone therapy. In addition, they can skip taking progesterone as they don’t require the thinning of the endometrium wall.

Women without a uterus also have the advantage of a low-risk rate with hormone therapy. Taking estrogen alone can reduce the risk of cancer and other complications. You also won’t have bleeding issues.

Types of Estrogen Treatment

The type of estrogen treatment you opt for depends on your preference and the recommendation of a certified medical practitioner. 

Before taking up any treatments, you should understand the benefits and risks associated with them to avoid complications. Below are the types of estrogen treatments currently available.

Pills

Pills include oral medications, and it is one of the most common types of estrogen treatment. Oral medications also have more information regarding the benefits and risks. 

Doctors usually recommend taking the pills once every day, but it can vary depending on the patient and the medicine. It is highly effective for severe symptoms of menopause and can also reduce the chances of osteoporosis.

Vaginal Rings And Creams

Women with itchiness, vaginal dryness, and uncomfortable and painful intercourse can apply them directly to the vaginal area. The use of vaginal rings, creams, and tablets can vary. 

While vaginal rings need replacement on a three-month basis, vaginal tablets are taken every day for some time, and the use of creams depends on the doctor’s prescription. 

These are effective in reducing menopausal symptoms in the vaginal area and can prevent exposure in other parts of the body.

Gels, Creams, Sprays

Creams, sprays, and gels are external methods of getting estrogen. The skin absorbs estrogen and takes it into your bloodstream. As these directly get absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin, people with liver conditions can also opt for this option. 

The application of these medicines varies, and your doctor can advise you on the best places to use them on your body for positive results.

Who Should Not Consider Estrogen Treatment?

The following people should not consider going for hormone therapy as it can worsen their condition.

  • People with a liver condition or a medical history of liver diseases.
  • Currently on certain medications
  • If there is a stomach problem
  • History of blood clots
  • Have heart disease or had a heart attack or stroke
  • Cancer patients or have a history of cancer in the family

Final Thoughts

You should consult a certified medical practitioner specializing in hormone therapy to understand whether it is suitable for you. Understanding the risks before and after the therapy can help you avoid serious complications in the future.

A healthy lifestyle can help you cope with the treatment and enhance the quality of your life. It is also essential to remember not to take the therapy for a prolonged period as it can affect your health adversely.

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