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December 1, 2011

Replacement Hormone Therapy At A Glance

replacement hormone therapy
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Replacement hormone therapy, otherwise known as hormone replacement therapy or HRT, is a commonly used treatment of menopause and its symptoms.

Why The Need for Replacement Hormone Therapy?

When a woman enters menopause, or the time when the period stops, a lot of changes happen to her. It changes her mood, she becomes very sensitive, very ill-tempered and she becomes more susceptible to diseases like osteoporosis and heart illnesses. All these she experiences because her ovaries have stopped producing the hormone estrogen.

Kinds of Replacement Hormone Therapy

HRT can be in the form of injectables, pills and creams. There are two main types of these therapy: estrogen and progesterone/estrogen combination therapy. In the first kind, estrogen is taken solely, in small amounts as prescribed by doctors as patch or pill. Estrogen only therapy is frequently prescribed to women who no longer have a uterus.  Progesterone protects against endometrial (uterine cancer) and it is felt that women absent of their uterus do not need progesterone.  We, however, disagree with that approach as progesterone also protects against breast cancer has positive effects on the brain and bones.  Our feeling is that women deficient in progesterone should receive progesterone replacement even if they no longer have their uterus.

Meanwhile, the combination of progesterone and estrogen is also prescribed in small amounts, but the progesterone’s dosage is smaller. Generally, these therapies are given in the lowest dose and in the shortest time possible.

The Risks and Benefits of Replacement Hormone Therapy

While HRT is widely accepted as a treatment for menopausal symptoms, there are still some precautions you need to keep in mind, as there are health risks included with the therapy. Using synthetic estrogens without use of progestereone does increase the risk of endometrial cancer, heart disease and blood clots or stroke. Actually, these risks may transpire if the HRT is used for a long time, say, longer than five years.  Most of these risks are quite low however.

If there are risks in taking the treatment, there are, of course, lots of benefits in receiving HRT like being relieved of hot flashes and vaginal dryness and reducing the risk of osteoporosis, teeth loss and colon cancer. It also alters a woman’s mood by making her happier and improving her mental health.

Side Effects of Replacement Hormone Therapy 

If there are risks and benefits, there are also side effects. Like most medications you take, you will feel different things and experience some alarming feelings in your body, do not be alarmed though, just visit a doctor when you experience any one of these:

  • Spotting
  • Breast tenderness
  • Monthly bleeding
  • Fluid retention
  • Headaches
  • Skin irritation (patches)
  • Dizziness

Again, if you experience any of these, ask your doctor about it, he may adjust the dosage or change the form of HRT you use.  Many of these symptoms are related to an imbalance between estrogen and progestereone and resolve once hormonal balance is achieved.

Things to Consider Before Trying Replacement Hormone Therapy

It is imperative that you consult your doctor before taking replacement hormone therapy. Another thing to do is to weigh the risks and benefits thoroughly. We strongly recommend use of bio-identical hormones (hormones structurally similar to those naturally made by the body).  It’s also important to hormone levels measure regularily either through blood or saliva testing.

Also, women need testosterone  just like men, and testosterone replacement should be considered if levels are deficient.

Women who want to take HRT may think it is risky, but they may reap more benefits from it. As long as it is taken properly and according to what the doctor prescribes, replacement hormone therapy will help women over-all.

See related articles.

“The 5 B’s and More: Excess Estrogen Symptoms”

“4 Tips to Cope with Female Menopause”

“Getting the Most Out of Thyroid Hormone Replacement Therapy”

“Hormone Replacement Therapy Pros and Cons”

 

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Dr. Joe Jacko


Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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