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What Is HarnettHormone 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. Harnett HRT replaces hormones your body no longer makes. It’s the most effective treatment for menopause symptoms.
Hormone Replacement Therapy: What Is It?
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
* A tendency to fall asleep during the day
This is called andropause.
Fall in the production of testosterone contributes to these problems in a big way. This is when doctors recommend testosterone replacement therapy. The average age of men seeking relief from these symptoms ranges from forty to seventy five, which only goes to prove how popular these therapies are.
Although testosterone replacement therapy is quite old, there have been significant changes in the therapy in the last decade. In the past, a patient seeking this therapy had to undergo a battery of tests. Not only were these tests expensive but at times, they were also unreliable because testosterone level indicated in the blood is difficult to interpret. That is why there are different methods to evaluate and assess the need for this therapy in men. These days, a more pragmatic approach is used to assess the need for therapy. This includes a questionnaire where the patient has to write answers for the purpose of evaluation.
The essence of science based hormonal therapy is not to treat sickness but to maintain wellness. This is a dramatic change from the historical methodologies of health care in the U.S. Our nation's traditional measure of health care is actually "sick care". We wait until sickness before requesting medical interventions. The ideal way to address is health care is to prevent sickness rather than treat sickness. This new approach is what has inspired the new "hormone replacement clinics" as a standard of health and prevention.
Women often seek hormone replacement therapy from their physician for reasons related to menopausal symptoms. The object is not to prevent a natural process but to minimize the symptoms associated with menopause. Hormonal therapy helps restore hormones to eliminate or decrease the symptoms. Hormone therapy is not the use of a pharmaceutical to treat symptoms but assisting the body with additional natural hormones that are present but not in the quantity needed.
The hormonal therapy is not intended to enhance or exceed what our body normally produces but to supplement our body's ability to produce what once came naturally.
Estrogen, Progesterone, And Cancer
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.
Depression is mainly attributed to hormonal imbalance. During depression, serotonin, a chemical that is responsible for a person's mood, tends to drop. Low level of serotonin makes a person feel sad. On the other hand, high level of this chemical makes a person feel happy. The change in serotonin level is determined by estrogen hormones. Thus when estrogen level tends to decline, so does the production of serotonin. This hormonal imbalance is the reason behind depression. Managing depression means handling hormonal imbalance. This further means that Hormone Replacement Therapy can help people get out of their depression.
Doctors use synthetic hormones in Hormone Replacement Therapy. Synthetic hormones are created in laboratories rather than by the body. However, synthetic hormones used in Hormone Replacement Therapy act like natural hormones once inside the body. To treat depression, estrogen is restored by using synthetic estrogen. The synthetic estrogen will act like a natural one. The aim of Hormone Replacement Therapy is to replenish the level of estrogen in the body so that the level of serotonin will also increase. Once this is achieved, depression will not be an issue. As long as the level of estrogen is high, the person will not feel symptoms of depression.
Benefits of Hormone Replacement Therapy
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.