Hormone Replacement Therapy for Menopause
Thomas Englert, MD, is a board-certified gynecologist with OB/GYN Associates in Loveland, Colo. He can be reached at (970) 667-2009.
Question: My menopause symptoms are making me uncomfortable. Is hormone replacement therapy a good treatment option?
Answer: The majority of women between the ages of 45 and 55 go through natural menopause in which the body stops producing sex hormones and menstruation comes to an end.
During this time, the reduced production of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone can result in decreased libido, hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, mood changes, memory problems, dry skin and body aches.
Hormone replacement therapy can provide relief from these symptoms. The specific treatment will depend on whether the woman has had a hysterectomy. Women who have undergone a hysterectomy are usually treated with estrogen while women who have not undergone a hysterectomy are treated with a combination of estrogen and progesterone.
The hormones may be administered orally or transdermally with a skin patch, cream or gel, or a mister. They may also be administered directly into the muscle or vaginally.
Prior to beginning hormone replacement therapy a physician will consider several factors including: severity of symptoms, options for administering the treatments, and dosage.
Potential side effects include: menstrual bleeding, fluid retention, breast soreness, weight gain, blood clotting, elevated risk of heart attack and stroke, and a slight increase in the risk of breast cancer.
If you are considering hormone replacement therapy, make sure you discuss the risks and benefits of the treatment with your health care provider.