Network / newlifeoutlook / healthscene

Hormone Replacement Therapy

What to expect from HRT

Hormone replacement therapy, which is often abbreviated as HRT, is a medical treatment to supplement low hormone levels. The most common time at which many women consider using HRT is menopause, when the levels of important hormones such as estrogen and progesterone drop considerably.

Hormones and Their Functions

Hormones are chemicals that are manufactured by the body to perform different functions. The two primary female hormones are called estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen's functions include growing the uterine lining each month, keeping bones strong and maintaining a healthy heart and blood vessels. Progesterone has a role in thickening and shedding of the uterine lining. Both hormones decline when a woman reaches her late 40s or early 50s as she enters menopause and menstruation ceases. There are other reasons that estrogen and progesterone levels may be low, including too much exercise, sudden weight loss or the surgical removal of ovaries.

Symptoms of Low Estrogen Levels

When the body's estrogen levels are low, there are a number of physical and emotional signs that this is occurring:

  • Hot flashes, or suddenly feeling hot, which can be uncomfortable, embarrassing and disruptive to sleep.
  • Vaginal dryness, which is associated with the thinning of the vagina and lost elasticity, making intercourse uncomfortable.
  • Emotional issues, such as depression, irritability, fatigue and decreased concentration levels.
  • Osteoporosis, also known as bone loss, which can result in a greater likelihood of broken bones.
  • Heart and blood vessel disease, the incidence of which can increase if estrogen levels are low.

Hormone Replacement Therapy Issues

There are two types of hormone therapy available: estrogen alone and a combination of estrogen and progesterone. For a woman who still has her uterus, progesterone provides a protective effect because estrogen alone can increase the chances of endometrial cancer, which is cancer of the lining of the uterus. A woman who has had a hysterectomy usually does not need to use progesterone HRT.

Hormone replacement therapy is successful at relieving many of the symptoms of low hormone levels, which can vastly improve the quality of life for many women. However, HRT is not without risks, including an increased risk of breast cancer, blood clots and strokes. The decision to take HRT is not one to be made lightly; the pros and cons should be discussed with your health care provider. Natural hormone replacement therapy from bio-identical sources of estrogen and progesterone is reported to be safer and pose fewer risks, but additional research still needs to be conducted to verify its safety.

Physical HealthYou're not alone.We are building our AFib community.Join Now