Menopause: Female Hormone Deficiency
Hormone Replacement Therapy in Women Menopause typically occurs around age 51. However, hormone related symptoms frequently present in the perimenopausal state, 1-2 years before the cessation of menstrual cycles. Women who have surgical ovarian removal are considered menopausal regardless of age. Hormone replacement for early surgical menopause is necessary to prevent heart disease and osteoporosis.
The use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), is highly effective for improving the quality of life in women suffering from acute menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, increased fatigue, irritability, memory loss, headaches, depression, skin changes, vaginal dryness, urinary tract infections, and incontinence. HRT provides protection against cardiovascular disease, at least in women on HRT within 10 yrs of menopause. HRT also reduces osteoporosis, colon cancer, diabetes risk, improves cholesterol and memory.
Women in the perimenopausal state are candidates for HRT, this may be the best time to consider treatment. Both estrogen and progesterone are beneficial in treating menopausal symptoms. Low doses of testosterone, DHEA, pregnenolone and melatonin have also been beneficial in women with hormone deficiencies. HRT is associated with a slight decrease in abdominal bodyfat according to recent study reviews.
What are the risks of hormone therapy?
The Women’s Health Initiative found that women taking the combination synthetic estrogen-progestin (Prempro) used in the study had an increased risk of developing certain conditions. According to the study, over one year, 10,000 women taking estrogen plus progestin compared with a placebo might experience:
Seven more cases of heart disease (in older women only).
Eight more cases of breast cancer
Eight more cases of stroke
18 more cases of blood clots if using the oral form
Based on these numbers, the increased risk of disease to an individual woman is small but must be considered.
For women taking estrogen alone (Premarin), the WHI found no increased risk of breast cancer or heart disease. Researchers found that over one year, 10,000 women taking oral estrogen might experience 12 more cases of stroke and six more cases of blood clots in the legs. These risks may not apply to bio-identical estrogen/progesterone combinations.
Trans-dermal estrogen does not have the same blood clot risk as oral estrogen. This is incredibly important, as blood clots are the most common side effects in HRT studies using synthetic oral medications. Synthetic progesterone has been shown to have harmful effects in vitro. The July 2010 edition of the Journal of Endocrinology & Metabolism has an updated HRT benefits vs risk meta-analysis, though it is based mainly on synthetic oral HRT. This meta analysis suggests trans-dermal estrogen may be safer because of the lack of blood clots compared to oral estrogens.
Women on HRT may also experience: breast tenderness, bloating, and increase in gallstones. These symptoms often depend on dose and formula.
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Provides Relief of Hot Flashes
Enhances Quality of Life
Boosts Mental Outlook and Mood
Reduces Mild Depression
Augments Quality of Sleep
Improves Short-Term Memory
Reduces the Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases (CVD) in some women
Decreases Colon Cancer Risk
Slows some signs of Aging
Improves Muscle Tone of Pelvic Floor
Restores Breast Firmness
Provides Feasible Improvement in Survival Rates
Combats Osteoporosis: Stronger Bones