- Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are the hormones commonly used in hormone replacement therapy.
- Hormone replacement therapy can also help prevent neurological and cardiovascular diseases.
- It is necessary to perform medical tests to know the possibility of the use of hormone replacement therapy.
Hormone replacement therapy
Menopause is a stage in a woman’s life that is noticeable when she stops having her menstrual period, at which time her body produces fewer hormones. This usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55.
This hormonal change in some cases is not noticeable, but for other women it can result in symptoms during the transition and in post-menopause, which can affect their daily life, says Dr. Eréndira Ortiz Ruiz, gynecologist and menopause and climacteric specialist at ABC Medical Center.
Among the different symptoms that you may suffer are hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disturbances, mood changes, decreased sexual libido, vaginal dryness, and joint or muscle pain, among others.
Although these symptoms may disappear over time, for some women they can interfere with their daily lives. The hormones that decrease at this stage of life can be replaced through hormone replacement therapy by using estrogen and progesterone, and sometimes also testosterone.
“Treatment of menopausal symptoms with estrogen and progestin together is known as estrogen-progestin therapy (EPT) or combined hormone therapy. Although estrogen alone relieves menopausal symptoms, it increases the risk of uterine cancer (endometrial cancer). Adding progestin to estrogen reduces the risk of abnormal endometrial cancer. For this reason, EPT is given to women who still have their uterus (whose uterus was not removed by a hysterectomy).”1
There are different presentations for hormonal therapies such as pills, patches, injections, gels, creams, or vaginal suppositories, which depend on whether a local application or a systemic one is sought, to reach the entire organism and is in accordance with the specialist’s recommendation.
What benefits does hormone replacement therapy have?
Dr. Ortiz says that various studies have shown that hormone replacement therapy helps to improve most of the symptoms, also providing other benefits such as the prevention of cardiovascular diseases by reducing the risk of having high cholesterol or triglycerides, diabetes, or high blood pressure.
Other benefits that have been found are to help prevent neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s or reduce the risk of fracture in patients with osteoporosis.
How do you know if you are a candidate for hormone replacement therapy?
Although hormone replacement therapy is safe in most women, in some cases it could increase the possibility of developing blood clots, heart attacks or strokes, and even the appearance of breast and endometrial cancer, says Dr. Ortiz.
All this is related to the duration of the therapy, the dosage, its type, and, mainly, the woman’s health at that moment.
For this reason, the doctor must ask about the symptoms and perform a complete physical examination, additionally, they will request some tests such as a mammogram, breast ultrasound, bone densitometry, and other laboratory tests; all this to determine if you are a candidate for the use of hormone replacement therapy.
Despite the benefits of using this therapy, there are some restrictions focused on women who have presented or have some type of cancer, including breast, ovarian, or endometrial. It is also not recommended in women who have suffered a heart attack or who have severe liver disease, women who have had a history of blood clots or who suffer from unknown vaginal bleeding, or active smokers.
Dr. Ortiz says that there are other alternatives for women who suffer menopause symptoms and who are not candidates for hormone replacement therapy:
- Seek a lifestyle change.
- Incorporate regular exercise into the routine.
- Have a balanced nutrition plan.
- Reduce factors such as smoking, caffeine, and alcohol consumption.
- Include relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, or similar.
- Vitamin D and calcium supplementation.
- If necessary, your doctor may prescribe the use of antidepressants.
Menopause is another stage in the life of every woman and the symptoms can be bearable. See your doctor to make the best decision for you.
At ABC Medical Center’s Women’s Center, we can provide you with specialized care. Contact us!
Dra. Eréndira Ortiz Ruiz – Gynecologist and menopause and climacteric specialist at ABC Medical Center.