Is Hormone Replacement Therapy Right for You?

If you have become increasingly aware that your life and body is about to undergo some major changes, you may be wondering if hormone replacement therapy (HRT) could help you. For those entering what used to be known as the "change of life," symptoms brought about by widely fluctuating hormone levels can wreck havoc on your mind, body and spirit. Hot flashes are often only the beginning, and many women experience mood swings, trouble concentrating, sleep disturbances, and more.

If you are seeking relief from these and other symptoms of pre-menopause or menopause, you may be interested in learning more about HRT, so read on to find out if this type of treatment could be right for you with these 4 questions and answers.

1. What are my HRT options?

Most commonly, a combination of estrogen and progesterone is prescribed to help alleviate the usual menopausal symptoms. The estrogen helps replace the waning levels that trigger menopausal symptoms; the progesterone helps with that but also serves as a protection against uterine cancer. The risk of edometrial cancer is elevated for those who take estrogen alone. You should be prepared to be patient when beginning hormone therapy; often the exact right combo and dosages take time to perfect. HRT is available in several different forms: oral, implants, topical cream and trans-dermal patches. The non-oral forms all allow for faster acting results without the hormones needing to pass through your liver.

2. What is bio-identical hormones?

You have very likely heard the term "bio-identical" hormones, but are just as likely to be confused about why you would consider them and why they are different. You should understand that there are no scientific studies that show any benefits and that the issue continues to be somewhat controversial. The term bio-identical simply means that your body does not perceive a bio-identical hormone to be any different than your own naturally occurring hormones. This has lead many to deem bio-identicals to be a more natural or safer choice for HRT. One of the oldest and most widely used bio-identical hormone is a progesterone substitute made from yams.

3. Does HRT have a deservedly bad reputation?

Back in 2002, a ground-breaking study by the Women's Health Initiative prompted practitioners to stop prescribing all types of hormone therapy, at least temporarily. This alarming study demonstrated links between HRT and a terrifying laundry list of serious medical conditions, such as cancer and heart disease. The study, and its conclusions, has undergone closer scrutiny, however, and it was found that the risks in the study were exaggerated for women younger than 45, those who used HRT short-term and those without other risks factors.

4. Is HRT dangerous?

There is an increased risk of stroke and heart disease for some women, so be sure that your doctor takes your general health into consideration before beginning HRT. Keep in mind that HRT is not meant to be a lifelong treatment, and that the risks are considerably lower for those who use it for less than five years. On the plus side, studies have shown that you can decrease your risk of breast cancer by using HRT.

Being miserable is not the way to go; click here for more info and to discuss your HRT options with a gynecologist.