Menopause and Hormone Therapy: Is it right for you?

By March 28, 2019December 30th, 2020No Comments
HealthMenopauseWomen's Health

Menopause is a common rite of passage for all women. Once they hit 50, their biological clock slows down and they don’t experience monthly periods. Menopause is defined as an absence of periods for over 12 months.

While it may seem like a welcome change, the truth is menopause comes with its own set of problems. Hot flushes, dry vagina, painful intercourse, etc. are all a part of menopause. To deal with these changes, some women choose to undergo hormonal replacement therapy. If you are of menopausal age and experiencing discomfort, it is important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) before undergoing it.

What are the types and benefits of Hormonal Replacement Therapy?

There are two types of Hormonal Replacement Therapy:

  • Systemic hormone therapy: Systemic estrogen comes in pill, skin patch, gel, cream or spray form and is the most effective treatment for night sweats and hot flushes. It also eases vaginal symptoms of menopause, such as dryness, itching, burning and discomfort with intercourse. Combined estrogen and progesterone therapy may reduce the risk of colon cancer and osteoporosis.
  • Low-dose vaginal products: Low-dose vaginal preparations of estrogen come in cream, tablet or ring form and can easily treat vaginal and urinary symptoms. However, it does not treat hot flushes, night sweats of osteoporosis.

Also Read: Can women enjoy sex after Menopause?

What are the risks of Hormonal Replacement Therapy?

In one of the largest clinical trial studies, a combination of estrogen and progesterone pills was said to increase risks of few conditions like:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Blood clots
  • Breast cancer

These risks vary with age. Women who take HRT 10-20 years after menopause are at higher risk of developing the above conditions as compared to women who start it before the age of 60 or within 10 years of menopause.

The risk may also depend on whether estrogen is given along with progesterone. Estrogen needs to be balanced with progesterone otherwise it promotes the growth of the inner lining if uterus, causing uterine cancer.

Risk may also depend on other health conditions and family history.

Who should take Hormonal Replacement Therapy?

  • If you have reached menopause earlier than normal
  • If you experience moderate to extreme hot flushes and night sweats
  • Have lost bone mass and no other treatment is working
  • Are experiencing other menopausal symptoms

For women who have experienced menopause prematurely, the benefits of taking therapy outweigh the risks.

Who should avoid Hormonal Replacement Therapy?

Women who have or previously had breast cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, blood clots in the legs or lungs, stroke, liver disease, or unexplained vaginal bleeding should usually not take hormone therapy.

If your menopause started after 45 but you are not affected by the symptoms, you don’t need hormone therapy. Most of the symptoms can be managed by lifestyle changes early on.

To determine if hormone therapy is the right option for you, consult your doctor. They will be able to tell you if you need to be on therapy and what type of therapy would be needed. It is also advised to seek regular follow-up care once you hit menopause, whether you choose to seek HRT or not.

Also Watch: Dr. Nina Mansukhani on Menopause and Gynaecological Issues with Women Post 40s

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