Women can have a rough trot when it comes to hormones. It can feel like the only time they’re under control is when you’re too young or too old to really appreciate it.
Hormones affect everything from how you look to how you feel and when they’re out of balance it can be mildly inconvenient or completely debilitating. Hormones change all the time and you’ll usually notice the fluctuation during your menstrual cycle but during menopause they can be quite erratic, and those normal ups and downs can turn in to extreme physical and emotional symptoms.
Menopause Hormone Therapy is commonly referred to as Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and is exactly that - therapy to replace the natural balance or imbalance of hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, usually during menopause.
HRT can help to restore the hormone levels in your body and alleviate menopause symptoms. All women will experience menopause and about 80% will experience symptoms. If you aren’t currently going through menopause or don’t already know what you’re in for, symptoms can include:
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Trouble sleeping and staying asleep
- Feeling anxious or nervous
- Feeling depressed, down or blue
- Aching muscles and joints
- Lack of energy
- Poor memory
- Changes in appearance texture or tone of your skin
- Weight gain
- Frequent urination
- Vaginal dryness
- Changes in sexual desire (and avoiding intimacy)
- A crawling feeling over the skin
The good news?
Women are more in control of the symptoms they suffer with the treatment options available today. Each woman experiences menopause in a different way and so each treatment plan is individually designed for your needs. The best place to seek help? There are services who specialise in Medical Hormone Treatment, such as Epworth Geelong’s Women’s Health Clinic, who will take the time to tailor treatment to your symptoms and lifestyle needs. This can include the hormones you receive but also how you receive them as they can be taken as oral tablets, gels or patches that are absorbed through your skin, creams and tablets that are placed in your vagina or an intrauterine device (IUD).
Are there risks involved with using HRT?
Like any medical treatment there are potential side effects which largely depends on your age, medical history, the type and length of hormone treatment. Other women may experience side effects such as nausea, fluid retention, bloating, breast tenderness and swelling, and irregular bleeding.
HRT isn’t for everyone and may not be suitable for women with:
- endometrial cancer
- breast cancer
- cardiovascular disease
- blood clots in the legs or lungs
- ovarian cancer
- abnormal vaginal bleeding
- abnormal liver function
- high blood pressure
- gallbladder problems
- high cholesterol
So why do HRT?
Other than relieving those common menopause symptoms, it can prevent other conditions such as, heart disease, fractures, osteoporosis, diabetes and some types of cancers.
Current recommendations support that the benefits outweigh any potential risks in women impacted by significant menopause symptoms and that treatment is safe and effective for healthy women.
You can find out more about Menopause Hormone Therapy and whether its suitable for you by chatting to your local GP, women’s health clinic or specialist. There’s also more information from Australian Menopause Society.
21 April 2018
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