Menopause And HRT

If you have recently thought about taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT), you may be aware of the health risks associated with it. However, recently published case studies indicate more encouraging news.

They reveal that although not completely risk free, HRT is still the most effective form of treatment available to alleviate menopausal symptoms. Additionally, it may help to protect you against heart disease and heart failure.

What is hormone replacement therapy used for?

Hormone replacement therapy treatments help to ease the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause. With age, your body starts to change and produces less oestrogen. During this stage, your ovaries stop forming eggs, causing you to experience irregular periods or no periods at all.

A number of different symptoms will develop from this fall of oestrogen, such as night sweats, hot flushes, mood swings, vaginal dryness, vaginal itching/burning and sometimes conditions like osteoporosis. HRT is used to replace the hormones your body has stopped producing. In regards to treating menopause, it is the most effective treatment.

More benefits than harm

Over the last decade, the balance of benefit to harm seems to have shifted in favour of hormone replacement therapy. Users can get effective results if they use HRT for the right reasons, i.e to treat menopause symptoms.

Though it can be used to prevent or treat osteoporosis, this often requires longer-term usage. As stated by the NHS, taking HRT at a lower dosage for as long as necessary is both safer and more effective.

If you begin taking treatment around the time of menopause, the risk of experiencing side effects is significantly reduced. If you are aged over 60, doctors will usually not recommend hormone replacement therapy. However, if you have been using this treatment for a few years prior to turning 60, you can usually continue taking it after reaching this age.

A lot of patients want to know whether HRT affects sexual desire in any way. Though there have been no conclusive findings, some research studies have shown that HRT can boost your sex drive.

What other benefits does HRT provide?

HRT makes younger postmenopausal women live longer. For those who experience early menopause, HRT almost undoubtedly increases life expectancy according to an article in the American Journal of Medicine.

HRT lowers risk of heart failure: As reported by a group of researchers in the British Medical Journal, women who take HRT soon after menopause will lower their risk of experiencing heart failure.

Muscle function is improved by HRT: According to a study published in the Journal of Physiology, Dr Lars Larsson from Uppsala University Hospital Sweden said that women who use HRT will have improved muscle functioning.

Though HRT provides many benefits, it is still seen as controversial by some health professionals, mainly due to the findings of a large clinical trial carried out in 2002. The trial found that HRT increased a patient's risk of heart disease, stroke and other types of cancers.

Nonetheless, natural aging can also play a big role in increasing these risk factors, which is why a medical professional will only prescribe HRT medication if you will benefit from it and if it is absolutely safe for you to take.

What HRT medications are available?

With the help of a doctor, you can choose from a wide variety of HRT treatments. Some of these treatments contain tibilone, oesterogens or estradiol as the only active ingredients while others have artificial progestogen in combination with estradiol and conjugated oestrogen. Evorel, Livial and Premarin are among the most popular HRT medications.

When should I consider using treatment?

Not every woman will need to use hormone replacement therapy. Within the UK, the average age a woman reaches her menopause is aged 51, says the National Institute on Aging. Nonetheless, some women can start to experience menopause in their 40s while others have known to experience it in their 30s.

To assess whether HRT is a suitable option for you, consult a doctor and make sure to mention all of your symptoms and personal medical history. When taking treatment, it's important to update this information every year.

Since researchers are continuing to learn more about new forms of treatment, your recommendations could change based on the latest available medication.

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