One of the natural stages in a woman’s life is menopause. This marks the end of the reproductive years of a woman and begins one year after a woman’s last period. Menopause can last up to seven years and includes several changes. Emotional changes experienced in menopause include low mood, irritability and anxiety. Women also experience palpitations, night sweats, hair thinning, headaches, joint stiffness and aches, reduced sexual drive, vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex. In addition, menopause brings an increased risk of developing osteoporosis and cardiac diseases.
Since the hallmark of menopause is reduced production of female reproductive hormones, Hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) is excellent for managing menopause. It’s pretty popular and effective at alleviating menopausal symptoms. Here is a closer look at the benefits and risks of Hormone Replacement Therapy.
HRT is recommended to menopausal women because of its unique benefits such as:
Relief from menopausal symptoms
HRT with estrogen or progestin can effectively alleviate symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings. Women report emotional and physical changes soon after starting HRT and enhanced overall health.
Estrogen is central to maintaining bone density. This explains why postmenopausal women are at a higher risk of osteoporosis. HRT optimises estrogen levels, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and pathological fractures. It’s also important to monitor calcium and vitamin D levels for optimal bone health.
Improved sleep quality
Menopausal women experience sleeplessness. It’s often a consequence of hot flashes and mood changes that interfere with sleep patterns. HRT improves sleep quality, reduces insomnia and promotes overall sleep satisfaction.
Estrogen has the unique ability to exert cardioprotective effects against atherosclerosis. It’s also protective against reperfusion injury on the myocardium. As a result, HRT has the benefit of reducing the risk of heart disease in menopausal women.
Protection against diseases
Studies show that estrogen offers protection against memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. It also reduces the risk of bowel cancer.
Menopause HRT side effects and risks
HRT has several side effects, including headaches, nausea, mood changes, rashes and breast pain. Most of these are manageable, but it’s imperative to consider other risks associated with HRT.
Risk of breast cancer
Long-term use of HRT, especially progestin combinations, is associated with a slightly increased risk of breast cancer. On the other hand, estrogen-only HRT is not associated with a higher risk of breast cancer. Nonetheless, it’s important to discuss individual risk factors with a health practitioner.
Estrogen increases the risk of blood clots. It increases the levels of coagulation proteins and decreases anticoagulants. This effect on the coagulation pathway increases the risk of Pulmonary Embolism and Venous Thromboembolism. The risk of blood clots is higher in women who smoke or suffer from other pre-existing conditions.
Estrogen-only HRT is linked to an increased risk of endometrial cancer. However, the addition of progestin mitigates the risk. It’s imperative to discuss individual risks before initiating therapy. If you have had a total hysterectomy, the risk of cancer is completely eliminated.
HRT is known to cause several side effects, including breast tenderness, bloating and mood swings. It’s essential to monitor individual responses and adjust treatment plans accordingly.
Menopausal women considering HRT should engage in open and informed discussions with their healthcare providers. The decision to undergo HRT is highly individual and depends on factors such as overall health, personal medical history, and the severity of menopausal symptoms. HRT therapy should be initiated by a certified health practitioner, and all patients should undergo regular check-ups and monitoring. If you are already on treatment, any unusual symptoms or behavioural changes should be reported immediately. As you come to the end of your reproductive years, consider menopause HRT South Sydney to continue enjoying a symptom-free, fulfilling life.