“The Great Change,” “The Change of Life,” these phrases are often used to describe menopause for older women. Now, menopause is being discussed much more openly without euphemisms, and with good reason!
Menopause symptoms are challenging. It’s usually diagnosed in women after their period hasn’t come for 12 months. It’s accompanied by vaginal dryness, pain during sex, hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and more.
Since it’s part of the aging process, some people get through it easily. Others need extra help, which often comes in the form of hormone replacement therapy.
Often abbreviated as HRT, hormone replacement therapy helps with relieving menopause symptoms and protecting against osteoporosis. To help you understand it better, we’ve assembled a guide to HRT treatment to explain how it works, and how it can help you!
WHAT IS HORMONE REPLACEMENT?
Alleviating menopause symptoms is one of the main goals of hormone replacement therapy. When menopause begins, it changes your hormone levels.
Once menopause is complete, your body stops producing estrogen. HRT usually comes in two forms. Systemic treatments target all the symptoms of menopause, such as night sweats and mood swings. Targeted treatments focus on the urinary and vaginal symptoms, such as vaginal dryness or pain during sex.
The type of treatment you get depends on the symptoms that you’re experiencing. But it also depends on whether you still have your uterus or not. Depending on your medical history, which might have required a hysterectomy for various reasons, you might not have your uterus.
If you still do, you’ll need to pair estrogen with progestin. That’s because estrogen supplements can stimulate tissue growth in the uterine lining, which is often a recipe for cancer. Progestin helps balance out the estrogen while keeping you safe.
If your uterus has been removed, estrogen-only treatments are usually safe.
What does all this mean? The main goal of hormone replacement therapy for women is to maintain the hormone levels that your body is used to.
This can prevent a shock to your system and reduce the painful, annoying symptoms that menopause is associated with. Much like birth control, hormone replacement treatments come in pills, rings, gel, skin patches, tablets, and much more! However, we’ve discovered that the pellet option is usually best when alleviating menopause symptoms.
PROCEEDING WITH CAUTION
If you’re experiencing painful or annoying symptoms, you may be tempted to try anything that might possibly help. Before you make a move, though, it’s important to educate yourself about the possible side effects of hormone replacement therapy.
Like most medical procedures, HRT is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Some people will respond very well to this type of treatment, while others will not.
That’s why it’s so important to listen to your doctor and abide by their opinions when they make recommendations. But as a rule of thumb, there are certain situations where you shouldn’t consider using hormone replacement therapy.
If you’re pregnant, adding new hormones into your system is the last thing you need. Pregnancy is also a sign that menopause hasn’t begun yet. If you are pregnant or think you could be, avoid HRT treatment until you are sure.
If you have issues with vaginal bleeding, it’s also important to avoid HRT. Hormones play a huge role in prompting vaginal bleeding since they are the main triggers that prompt a period each month.
READING THE FINE PRINT
It’s also important to note that hormone replacement therapy for women also increases the risks of certain cancer types, especially breast cancer. Risk is also heightened when it comes to strokes, heart attacks, blood clots, and more.
If you have a history of stroke, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, blood clots, or cancer, it’s a good idea to avoid HRT. If you’d still like to talk about it with your doctor, make sure to be fully transparent about your medical history.
When chatting with your doctor about hormone replacement therapy options, it’s important to conduct an unbiased risk versus benefit analysis. However, you should know that you aren’t making a decision for the rest of your life.
Hormone replacement therapy is a major medical breakthrough that has been a lifesaver for so many women going through menopause. But as discussed above, all of these benefits don’t come without potential consequences.
That’s why you should prioritize taking the lowest dose possible, as approved by your physician. You should also get reevaluated between two and four times a year. The purpose of this evaluation is to see if you still need HRT.
This will prevent unnecessary hormones from being pumped into your system, while still reaping the benefits of getting help through the roughest parts of menopause.
BHRT PELLET INSERTION METHOD
As mentioned above, the pellet method is great for HRT treatment. BHRT stands for bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and is usually administered by certified BioTE providers.
These providers start by assessing whether patients are good candidates for BHRT. After chatting with them during an in-office appointment, doing a checkup, and running a lot of lab work, a decision is made.
If a patient is a good candidate for bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, it’s time to insert the pellet.
Getting pellet insertion is a journey. Usually, the pellet is inserted in the upper buttocks. The area is numbed so that it won’t be painful and the patient doesn’t feel anything.
Over time, the pellet and its contents slowly dissolve into the body and are absorbed. This leaves nothing behind in the insertion site, not even the original pellet casing.
This method is incredibly effective, but it does take time. Most patients see some improvements in a month. For the maximum effect, though, it can take six months.
HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY
For many women, menopause can serve as a time to focus on themselves again. After decades of focusing on family and children, and the juggling act required with those responsibilities, they can chase their own dreams again.
In order to empower women to do exactly that, El Paso Family & Pediatric Clinic provides the best hormone replacement therapy available. Contact us today to get started!