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What Is Topsail BeachHormone 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. Topsail Beach HRT replaces hormones your body no longer makes. It’s the most effective treatment for menopause symptoms.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy - What Is The Process?
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.
You've probably heard such terms as perimenopause and postmenopause floated around. These are menopausal terms that refer to the transition into, and out of menopause. It's a normal part of life, one experienced by every woman, at some point. Menopause is characterized by cessation of hormone production of the hormones involved with the regulating of a woman's menses. With the resulting changes in the levels of estrogen and progesterone there are usually changes in a woman's body. There are certain common symptoms; hot flashes, depression and being short tempered. But the level and degree of the various symptoms vary on a case-by-case basis, and may not occur in some women at all.
Peri-menopause lays the groundwork for menopause. The symptoms here may begin years before you experience your last menstrual period and may last up to a year after that. Post-menopause is what you go through after a year without your period-and lasts for the rest of your life. The average age is still an object of debate, some women tend to go well past their 50's, while some barely get to their 40's before it starts. It all varies based on lifestyle choices, genetics and habits among other influencing factors. Some women may have needed to get their 'tubes tied' or their uterus removed but even this does not guarantee a free pass. The ovaries still produce hormones, and they may eventually still experience these symptoms.
Often a clinic that specializes in "Hormone Replacement Therapy" is immediately regarded as an "estrogen" or "testosterone" clinic implying the patients are there for "sexual dysfunction". That simply is not the case if one is going to a "hormonal wellness clinic" or "science based HRT clinic". The reason for the reference by many to the sexual side is much of the discussion centers on what is known as male or female hormones related to sexual functions and sexual male/female characteristics. There are many more hormones than those two, and even those two may require the use of other hormones, specifically DHEA, to effectively assimilate those two hormones into our system properly.
My personal experience has been I go to my medical doctor, actually his experience/training is as an emergency room doctor, and Dr. Hummel analyzes a vast array of hormones and other chemicals to assess whether my body is meeting the minimum demands for hormones for me to live healthy. He looks at the typical blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, testosterone, thyroid function and many more. A baseline is established so the results of hormonal supplements, if needed, can be monitored and measured. If hormones or other medications, such as statins, is warranted then those are prescribed. Several weeks/months later new blood work is ordered to verify the underlying unhealthy pathologies are reversing and improving.
The Difference Between HRT Therapy Side Effects And Risks
The average age for menopause is 51.4 years. This age has changed very little over the years. However, there is a long period of time prior to the menopause, that lasts approximately 10 years, which is referred to as the climacteric or peri-menopause phase.
So how does a person know when she has completed menopause and transitions into post-menopause? Once you have gone without menstruating for a consecutive 12 month period, then you are considered to have completed the menopause.
Until 2002 hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was routinely used to treat menopausal symptoms and protect long term health. So what changed in 2002? Well, there was a large clinical trial called the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) that reported that HRT actually caused more health risks than benefits for the women in the trial. Doctors started to get very nervous about prescribing it to their patients and as a result, up to two-thirds of women discontinued its use, quite often without even discussing it with their physicians.
Even though there is still plenty of confusion surrounding HRT, it is still considered the most effective treatment for dealing with menopausal symptoms.
If you don't want to participate in hormone replacement therapy while going through menopause, there are some things that you can do to help alleviate some of the symptoms. First, change your diet and eliminate any processed foods. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Hot flashes can be brought on by hot, spicy food so limiting these can definitely help. Limiting alcohol and caffeine will also help you sleep better and reduce hot flashes, insomnia, anxiety and mood swings. If you smoke, it may be time to consider stopping for a number of health reasons. Make sure to get plenty of rest and finally, exercise you be the most important thing you can do to help reduce or eliminate symptoms. Walking is great, so are running, golfing, swimming, biking, hiking and weight lifting. The more active you are, the easier it will be getting through menopause.
There are a number of menopause herbal supplements on the market that make big claims. Before taking anything, it is recommended you speak to your doctor to ensure they are right for you and won't cause other side effects.
What You Should Know About Menopause and Bioidentical Hormones
The side effects of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) fall into two categories. First are the immediate side effects, such as headaches, nausea and vomiting and many others. Not all women will experience such side effects, and generally speaking these side effects resolve themselves once the HRT is stopped. Then there are long term risks such as increased risk of breast cancer (and other risks too). These longer term consequences of HRT are not reversible and in some cases are lethal. We'll start by answering the question "What is hormone replacement therapy?" Then we'll look at the advantages of bioidentical hormones, and finally at the side effects and risks associated with hormone replacement therapy.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Now let's look at hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Actually HRT is no longer routinely recommended for relief of menopausal complaints. It's too risky.
For a long time, doctor's thought that HRT was a cure all. Then some major studies, particularly the Women's Health Initiative revealed the risks associated with HRT. But before looking at the risks of HRT, let's make sure that we understand what it is.
The name "hormone replacement therapy" implies that HRT is replacing the estrogen and progesterone lost. It is, but not with the same hormones that our body makes. So its not replacing apples with apples. It's more like replacing apples with watermelons, and that's the main reason for the risks associated with HRT.