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What Is BelvilleHormone Replacement Therapy?
HRT (also known as hormone therapy, menopausal hormone therapy, and estrogen replacement therapy) uses female hormones — estrogen and progesterone — to treat common symptoms of menopause and aging. Doctors can prescribe it during or after menopause.
After your period stops, your hormone levels fall, causing uncomfortable symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness, and sometimes conditions like osteoporosis. Belville HRT replaces hormones your body no longer makes. It’s the most effective treatment for menopause symptoms.
The Dangers of Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy is a popular form of medication which is used to reduce the discomforts of menopause in women. When women reach menopause the production of estrogen and progesterone hormones by the ovaries is greatly reduced. They hence experience lots of changes in their bodies and exhibit symptoms which vary from time to time.
Replacement therapies are recommended so as to help ease these symptoms and most women experience a sense of well being after using these therapies for several weeks. There a number of known long-term and short-term benefits associated with the use of replacement hormones.
Replacement hormones reduce stress attacks, headaches, night sweating, and migraines. Women using these hormones also have a reduced chance of succumbing to muscular degeneration and Alzheimer's disease. Estrogen replacement hormones effectively treat symptoms experienced during menopause such as hot flushes and mood swings, vaginal dryness, and burning sensations and loss of vaginal elasticity. Studies also indicate that osteoporosis, a condition associated with the loss of bone density, can be avoided with the use of replacement hormones. This greatly reduces the risk of bone fractures as a result of weakened bones and joints.
A point of confusion for some people is the difference between side effects and risks when taking a prescriptive drug. This is certainly true when it comes to hormone replacement therapy or HRT. HRT refers to synthetic hormones prescribed primarily to relieve menopause related complaints such as hot flashes, night sweats, erratic periods, excessive bleeding during perimenopause, etc.
Risks associated with HRT
There are long term risks associated with taking prescriptive hormones as part of replacement therapy. You may have taken prescriptive hormones for years with no side effects whatsoever, and they may have dramatically relieved your menopausal hot flashes, sweats and other complaints. Yet you are now at greater risk for a variety of serious illnesses including breast cancer, uterine cancer, stroke and heart attack to name a few. These are the risks associated with HRT. Research studies have found so many serious risks associated with hormone replacement therapy that most medical doctors are unwilling to routinely prescribe hormone replacement for relief of menopause related complaints. Rightly so, they don't want to put their patient's at risk for life threatening conditions.
Let's look more closely at the risks associated with replacement therapy. Much of our knowledge of these risks comes from the Women's Health Initiative, a study that tracked the health of thousands of women, some taking hrt and others not. The study was eventually stopped as it became clear that there was a dramatically increased risk of breast cancer among the women undergoing HRT. Because of the complex nature of the study, the results are difficult to summarize succinctly. Numerous other studies have also clarified the risks and benefits associated with hormone replacement. Here is a broad picture of the level of risk associated with hormone replacement, followed by the benefits.
Hormone replacement therapy risks
- Breast cancer risk increased by 24 percent with combined estrogen / progestin HRT
- Risk of ischemic stroke increased by 41 percent with medium to high dose HRT, but much less risk with ultra low dose hormone replacement
- Heart attack risk increases by 29 percent for those taking HRT
- Slightly increased risk of ovarian cancer when only estrogen is taken for more than 10 years
- Twenty-one percent increased risk of kidney stones
- Higher risk of developing gall stones
Hormone replacement benefits
- Relief of menopause related complaints
- Increases bone density
- Reduces risk for colon-rectal cancer
- Decreases risk of macular (eye) degeneration and loss of vision associated with aging
The side effects of HRT
Side effects are generally considered to be any temporary complaints that are experienced while taking a drug. Side effects often resolve soon after stopping the medication. Using this description, the side effects of hormone replacement are not well known. These side effects vary depending on which combination of hormones one is taking and the specific synthetic forms used. Some of the more common side effects of prescriptive forms of estrogen, progesterone and combinations of both are as follows.
- Breast pain, enlargement and tenderness is associated with the stimulatory effect of estrogen
- Nausea and vomiting with the use of estrogen HRT taken by mouth
- Vaginal bleeding can occur in association with oral estrogen
- Darkened skin spots tend to occur on the face
- Headaches of a migraine type are associated with taking synthetic progesterone or progestins
- Depression is a common complaint that is found to be a result of taking progestins
- Greasy skin and acne are also associated with progestin use
Women are wisely looking for alternatives to hormone replacement. Fearing the risks associated with it, added to the side effects of prescriptive hormones, they are not too excited by it. Researchers and academics argue for and against hormone replacement.
The author's of a 2008 study titled the Women's International Study of Long-Duration Oestrogen after the Menopausesuggested that their study demonstrated such significant benefits for relief of menopause complaints that HRTshould be reconsidered by many women.
One of their colleagues (not an author of the study) reviewed the results of their study and came up with the opposite conclusion. Underscoring her concerns regarding the risks of hormone replacement therapy, Professor Anne Kavanagh of the University of Melbourne recently countered their claims as to the benefits of hormone replacement therapy. Professor Kavanagh points out that the study did not show and overall improvement in the "quality of life" for women in the study.
As a woman ages, it is a given fact that she will be hitting her menopause some time in her mid forties. It is also a given that a number of physical and psychological changes accompany this event. Thinning hair, dry skin and wrinkles are some of the effects of menopause. But, what about men? Do they experience something similar?
According to many doctors, many men experience a number of symptoms that are directly associated with their age. As a practicing doctor in Dublin, Ireland put it, men too suffer from a list of problems peculiar to aging. This includes:
* Flailing energy levels
* Depleting sex drive
* Erectile dysfunction
* Increased fat in the midriff area
* Decreased muscle mass
* Falling strength
Testosterone Replacement Therapy - What Are the Benefits?
Other improvements in the field of testosterone replacement therapy include different ways of administering testosterone. In the past, testosterone was taken in the form of pills. However, oral intake impacts the effectiveness of the therapy. Also, the medication has to be digested in the liver first before it is absorbed by the body. This dilutes the effect of the medicine and also puts the liver under tremendous stress. These days, testosterone is given through skin patches or injections so that absorption takes place transdermally.
Men undergoing testosterone replacement therapy are generally quite satisfied with the results they experience in terms of increased youthfulness, better muscle mass, lower body fat and of course, remarkable sex drive!
However, patients must be warned that they do not approach the therapy with unusually high expectations. The immediate effects of the therapy are quite intangible. Changes will be observed but these will be small changes only. Do not expect anything dramatic.
Exercises include the tensing of the muscles of the pelvic floor that not only improves bladder control, but also increases sexual functioning. They involve tensing and relaxing the muscles around the area of the urethra, vagina and anus.
To understand how these muscle work you can use the following techniques:
- Begin to urinate and then stop. The same muscle you use to control urination is the muscle that is used during the Kegel exercises.
- Insert a tampon and squeeze around it; these are the muscles being strengthened.
Kegel exercises can be added into any part of a daily routine-like when you are on the elevator, driving, talking on the phone, or while taking a shower. Repetition is very important and many women have found that these exercises have had a positive impact on their sex life.
When concerned about menopause and bladder control, Kegel exercise is an excellent alternative HRT. Doing your Kegels faithfully can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles enough that a sneeze or heavy lifting be a cause for loss of bladder control.
A key point to this training is that it IS part of an alternative hormone replacement therapy approach, which does not include drugs.
The Dangers of Hormone Replacement Therapy
The debate as to whether bio-identical hormone therapy trumps other forms of hormone therapies that seek to reverse the effects of menopause is still a raging one. The key here is to find out if the risks outweigh the benefits, or vise versa. The hormones in bio-identical therapy are chemically identical to your body's hormones. Although estrogen and progesterone from this therapy are not known to increase the risk of breast cancer, other constituent components, the likes of synthetic progestins; medroxyprogesterone acetate heighten that risk.
Although hormone therapy is a delicate balance, bio-identical therapy does have its benefits. It is known to result in lesser bleeding, but, like any hormone therapy; they don't have this same effect on everyone. A history in cancer, blood clots and other conditions are usually red flags for people considering bio-identical therapy. Some women tend not to respond to the therapy, as they should, laying testament to the fact that hormone therapy is far from an exact science.
Lifestyle is another key aspect of hormonal therapy that is perennially downplayed. In the same way that pathological smoking and alcohol consumption may speed up your transition to menopause, these habits could as well cause an adverse reaction to any type of hormonal therapy. Note that there are many variables here, ergo; one should consult a physician or pharmacist specialist before taking any steps. The efficacy of bio-identical therapy could be highly dependent on slight lifestyle changes that may make all the difference. Finally, bio-identical components are run through a rigorous quality assurance process, plant synthesized, and are fitted to suit individual hormonal needs.