That’s what I am trying to figure out…if hormone replacement therapy is the right option for me. There is so much information and controversy surrounding hormone replacement therapy. Let’s take a quick look at what is involved.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment option used to supplement the body with a combination of female hormones during and after menopause. When a woman’s ovaries no longer produce adequate amounts of hormones, HRT is used to level out and bring back to balance the hormone levels.
Hormone replacement therapy used to be the standard and the norm for treating severe peri-menopause and menopause issues and has been around since the 1950s. All that changed and its use declined since 2002, when the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study found that the use of HRT increased risks of heart disease and breast cancer in some women. Later assessments of the study data suggested some flaws, as most of the data collected was on women in their 60s and 70s, who were taking HRT for many years and may have developed these same health issues anyway, regardless of the HRT. More recent studies have used younger women in their trial groups between the ages of 42 to 58 and their treatment time on HRT was limited to a few years. These findings showed that HRT is safe and effective and may even prevent some diseases as well as improve insulin sensitivity and cholesterol levels. Currently experts state that in general, the younger you are when you begin the therapy and the less time you are on it, the lower your risk. HRT has been making a comeback lately. The “old school of thought” stated that women should stay on HRT for many years. Now the thinking is that 2 to 3 years should be sufficient and should really be given to younger women only as they are entering menopause to help them cope with this time of transition. Eventually, the symptoms level out on their own, as a woman has been in menopause for many years, therefore HRT is no longer needed.
The decision to seek HRT needs to be carefully evaluated by a woman and her physician. HRT can now be more custom tailored to each individual’s health history. This was not the case a decade ago. Still, there are many side effects to HRT, and the patient needs to be monitored carefully. Sometimes though, even side effects, as long as they are manageable, are still worth putting up with for the benefits that come from HRT. Women with severe menopause symptoms have reported that quality of life has truly improved for them with HRT.
Of course there are other treatment options such as vitamin therapies or bioidentical hormones. I will address those options in separate articles. Some women swear by those treatments overt HRT. However, it is important to note that neither of those options is regulated as well as the medical route of HRT. Vitamins can come from many manufacturers and there is no exact certainty of their potency and ingredients, none are regulated by the FDA. Bioidentical hormones have gained popularity and make the “natural” claim as they are plant derived. However, they too are technically not natural because they are still made in labs just as traditional HRT.
So what am I going to do? I am not sure yet. I am still evaluating my options. But lately my symptoms have been so severe that I am really leaning toward trying HRT. It makes me nervous because I prefer vitamins and natural therapies. I really try to stay away from prescriptions, but then I feel like with vitamins there is no one really watching out for me to see if I am getting the right dosage. With the HRT, my doctor would be monitoring me for results. It is a very difficult decision and emotional at the same time too. But quality of life is important and lately I have felt that slipping away from me. I would love to get lots of feedback on this issue of how others have dealt with making this same decision