A Basic Guide to Hormonal Replacement Therapy

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Women in the late forties and early fifties go through premenopausal and menopausal symptoms like tiredness, hot flushes, mood swings, etc. Progesterone and estrogen are hormones that are responsible for reproduction in women. Estrogen helps in the regular release of eggs from ovaries and progesterone prepares the womb to receive the fertilized egg.

Hormonal Replacement Therapy

How do Hormonal Changes Affect Menopausal Women?

  1. The perimenopause is the period when the body gradually reduces the production of eggs in the ovaries. 
  2. This process can happen over a period of 3 to 10 years. Around 50 years, a normal adult woman attains menopause and the one year post this will be termed as post-menopause.
  3. During this premenopausal period, estrogen levels drop down at a faster rate resulting in 
    • Vaginal dryness
    • Skin itching
    • Bone thinning
    • Hair fall
    • Hot flushes
    • insomnia
    • Lack of concentration
    • Irregular periods
    • Fewer firm breasts
    • Mood swings

What is Hormone Replacement Therapy?

To combat the side effects of low estrogen, women can opt for hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This therapy balances estrogen and progesterone in women around the time of menopause. This is basically performed to help women to combat the side effects of menopause. In HRT, estrogen and progesterone hormone are replaced with their synthetic variations (bioidentical) namely estradiol, estrone, estriol, medroxyprogesterone, norethisterone, etc. HRT is of two types, namely

  1. Combined HRT where the treatment involves taking both hormones.
  2. Estrogen only HRT where the patient is administered the only estrogen. This therapy is administered for those whose uterus has been removed using hysterectomy. 

Continuous combined HRT is recommended for post-menopausal women where one takes progesterone and estrogen supplements daily without fail.

What are Its Benefits?

There are many benefits of HRT namely:

  1. Relief from hot flushes
  2. Relieves tiredness
  3. Resolves insomnia issues
  4. Increases sex drive
  5. Reduces vaginal dryness
  6. Resolves skin itching and makes the skin glow as well
  7. Helps women to stay safe from hepatitis infection
  8. Lowers chances of memory loss
  9. Reduces the bone thinning and prevents fracture

What are Its Risks?

The year 2002 survey on women’s health has recorded that combined HRT can increase the probability of women suffering from heart disease, stroke, and breast cancer.

Here is the list of risks associated with HRT namely:

  1. HRT tablets can cause blood clots.
  2. HRT tablets can cause side effects like stomach indigestion in many.
  3. If one is taking an estrogen-only HRT and they still have their uterus, then they can succumb to endometrial cancer.
  4. Stroke and breast cancers are also side effects of HRT in some patients.

A Few Techniques of HRT are:

  1. Eating tablets
  2. Skin patches
  3. Estrogen gel applications
  4. Implants 

The treatment routine of HRT depends on how many menopausal symptoms one experiences. In general, HRT is a preferred treatment option for women to override the physical and emotional changes during menopause. HRT can be discontinued once the menopausal symptoms stop which is ideally 2 years post-menopause.

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