As women age, their hormone levels tend to fall and can create a number of uncomfortable symptoms. While most of these occur right before, during, and after menopause when a woman stops menstruating, they can strike early in some cases. For some, natural therapies such as changing lifestyle to incorporate stress reduction, a healthy diet, and exercise can help ease symptoms. Others benefit from natural supplements like vitex or black cohosh to balance their hormones and make them feel better. However, if these natural therapies do not work well enough to help a woman live a full life, Hormone Replacement Therapy (also known as HRT) is often recommended.
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What is Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Hormone Replacement Therapy replaces the female hormones of estrogen and progesterone that decline in women as they age. The female hormones estrogen and progesterone serve many functions in the body, including lining the uterus to prepare for implantation, processing calcium, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, and keeping the vagina healthy. When these hormones decline, it can result in hot flashes, vaginal dryness, fatigue, mood changes, sleep problems, and more.
HRT augments the natural hormone levels to re-balance the body and alleviate symptoms. Depending on the individual, therapy may include estrogen-only or estrogen with progesterone therapy. Your doctor will test your levels and learn more about your medical history and symptoms before deciding which type of therapy to use.
HRT is not right for everyone. There has been much speculation among researchers about whether HRT may contribute to the risk of breast cancer, heart disease, and other health issues. However, many doctors still believe that the benefits outweigh the risks and that getting a low-dose treatment for five years or less poses minimum health risks.
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Five signs You Need HRT
The five signs are mentioned below.
1. You Have Menopause Symptoms
How a woman weathers menopause depends on the individual. Some get through it quickly and relatively painlessly, while other women suffer for years with significant health problems, fatigue, and depression. If you are entering menopause and can deal with the symptoms without significant disruption to your life, HRT is probably not right for you. You may want to rely on exercise, a healthy diet, stress-relieving activities such as yoga and medication, and natural herbs to treat your mild symptoms.
However, if you are experiencing symptoms that keep you from going to work, taking care of your family, interacting with your social circle, or performing your tasks of daily living, HRT might be beneficial. Make sure you talk with your doctor about the risks of HRT and how they can be minimized.
2. You Have Severe PMS
PMS, or pre-menstrual syndrome, is common for women of childbearing age and can result in bloating, fatigue, and moodiness the week before the onset of their monthly cycle. While most women can deal with these symptoms with over-the-counter pain medication and natural remedies, around 5 percent of women experience severe PMS. Called premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD, the symptoms can include significant mental distress, intense pain, and altered thinking. When these symptoms occur nearly every month and are enough to interfere with daily tasks, PMDD is usually diagnosed.
If you have PMDD, your doctor may consider an HRT regimen that involved estrogen to inhibit ovulation and reduce symptoms. The estrogen will be in a higher dose than that given for women during menopause and will likely be paired with a progestogen to minimize the risk of uterine cancer. If you begin an HRT treatment protocol to handle your PMDD symptoms, it’s important to also make lifestyle changes such as increased exercise, supplements, and a healthy diet to further improve your wellness.
3. You Have Major Mood Changes
Declining hormones can have a huge impact on moods and lead to depression and anxiety. Many women do not realize their moods are the result of hormonal issues and believe it to be a normal part of getting older or simply a symptom of being middle-aged. Though some moodiness is normal for women experiencing PMS or for those entering menopause, severe mood changes are not normal and are often the sign of improper hormone levels.
If you experience extreme irritability, increased anxiety, or feel depressed, you should speak to your doctor about HRT. By properly balancing your hormone levels, you will likely have more energy and a reduction in emotional symptoms.
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4. You Have Decreased Libido
When a woman starts producing fewer hormones, her libido will naturally decline. While this is normal, a sudden drop in libido or a libido decline that is impacting your relationship should be addressed by your doctor. While it may be a natural part of life to experience low libido and even vaginal dryness that leads to discomfort during sex, it does not mean you have to simply live with it. HRT can restore the hormones that can increase your libido, make you feel younger, and give you your energy back.
5. You’re At Risk for Osteoporosis of Fractures
Hormones don’t just affect our moods, libido, and energy levels. When they begin to decline, it can also lead to a loss of bone density and the collagen that builds connective tissue. This puts you more at risk for osteoporosis, broken bones, and fractures in the discs between vertebrae that results in the appearance of a hump on the back. HRT has been proven to increase bone density and prevent the collagen loss that can lead to an increase in fractures.
No matter what stage of life you are in, you deserve to live a fulfilled and healthy life. If PMDD or severe menopause symptoms are affecting your overall wellness, you do have a choice. Hormone Replacement Therapy comes in many different options and is tailored to fit your specific needs. Available in pill form, transdermally through the skin, or as an injectable, HRT can be prescribed in many different doses and combinations. If you fit into one of the categories above, speak with your doctor about the possibility of receiving Hormone Replacement Therapy to ease your symptoms and help you regain your life. If you have questions about HRT, please feel free to contact EZCare Clinic in San Francisco to check your Hormone Levels.