Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
With the discussion on the results of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) in 2002 many women want to know; “Is hormone replacement therapy (HRT) right for them?” Being proactive can help this transition into menopause. Menopausal symptoms can vary from very mild to severe, the most common being: hot flashes, night sweats, difficulty sleeping, mood swings, vaginal dryness and urinary changes. HRT is more effective for those women who are bothered by moderate to severe symptoms. The average age for the mean in the WHI was 63. The average age for women bothered by these symptoms is 45-55. The decision to start HRI is individually based on your needs and considers your current health, risk factors, quality of life and life-style.
HRT comes in a variety of forms: oral tablets, patches, gel, lotion or vaginal application. A term often confusing in HRT is “ bio-identical”. Bioidentical simply means that the hormone is identical to the hormones produced by the woman. Bioidentical hormones are produced by pharmaceutical companies, which are FDA approved, or custom-made by compounding pharmacies. A review of the research at this time shows little evidence to support using bioidenticals over conventional HRT. HRT is not recommended for women with unexplained vaginal bleeding, past history of breast or endometrial cancer, history of blood clot in the veins, chronic liver disease or have a family history of premenopause breast cancer.
Other clinically proven methods to help relieve hot flashes are antidepressants and Catapress, a blood pressure medication. Although, nonprescription remedies such as black cohosh, soy and progesterone creams have been used for menopausal symptoms. Studies have shown mixed results on their effectiveness. Other alternatives which have been shown to help decrease the severity of menopausal symptoms include: avoid hot flash triggers (hot beverages, caffeine, spicy food, alcohol), eat healthy, manage stress, exercise regularly, dress in layers, stop smoking, and manage weight. Deep rhythmic breathing with slow inhalation and exhalation as a hot flash comes on can also help calm the nervous system and decrease the hot flash.
Bottom line is talk with your provider on what is best for you. Discuss the risks and benefits of HRT. Initiate lifestyle changes that not only help with menopausal symptoms but can also help decrease the risk of heart disease and cancer. If you decide on HRT, it is currently recommended to use the lowest dose for the shortest time frame that is effective for you. According to the 1998 North American Menopause Society Survey more than ½ of the women felt this to be the happiest, most fulfilling time in their lives.
TERMS & CONDITIONS: This information is not intended to be medical advice. It is general health information and does not take into account your particular health status nor is it a substitute for personal medical care. If you are suffering from a medical condition or have any specific questions about any medical matter, consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. Northwest Women’s Health Care shall not be liable for any damages arising out of the use of the content herein.
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