Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a strongly debated topic among women and their healthcare professionals. Before you accept that prescription, it’s important to know all the facts so you can make an informed decision.
Women deal with three phases of physical and hormonal changes after approximately age forty that can leave us feeling exhausted, sad, and overwhelmed. Unfortunately, many of us don’t know what to expect or what is considered “normal.” Let’s exam these three stages in detail.
Perimenopause Facts and Symptoms
This is when your production of estrogen and progesterone (the “female” hormones) begin to slow down. This transitional period of hormonal change can last anywhere from a few months to several years but may begin a decade before actual menopause. You may start noting signs of aging in your hair, skin, and nails.
Perimenopause occurs as early as your 30s but most women enter this stage in their 40s. You could experience irregular menstruation, mild hot flashes, irritability, fluctuations in sexual libido, and other symptoms similar to menopause but you still get your periods and can still become pregnant.
Menopause Facts and Symptoms
One year after your final menstrual cycle, you’re considered to be in menopause. At this point, the female body is no longer able to reproduce because it no longer releases eggs to be fertilized. Menopause generally lasts about four years but some (incredibly lucky) women experience menopause for just a few months.
The average age in the United States for menopause to occur is between 45-55 years old. Women who go through it earlier are considered prematurely menopausal. This can be the result of having a surgical procedure (such as a hysterectomy) or damage to the reproductive organs.
Every day, approximately 5,000 American women enter menopause. Common symptoms include hot flashes, unusual dryness (skin, eyes, mouth, or vagina), difficulty sleeping, mood swings, tenderness of the breasts, body aches, weight gain, and changes to sexual libido.
This is when most doctors recommend a hormone-replacement therapy. You should know that 50% of women taking HRT do feel better taking them.Every day, approximately 5,000 American women enter menopause.Click To Tweet
Post-Menopause Facts and Symptoms
Fortunately, once your body transitions from menopause, things start to level out. The normal symptoms begin to fade and your body will remain in the post-menopausal state for the rest of your life. You are unable to conceive naturally at this stage but alternative treatments may make pregnancy possible for you if that’s what you desire.
The health risks for post-menopausal women are higher due to much lower levels of estrogen. Osteoporosis and heart disease risk should not be taken lightly. If you haven’t given your bones and heart much thought until post-menopause, now is the time to get serious.
Leading a healthy lifestyle is absolutely critical at this point. Hormone-replacement therapy options may no longer be necessary.
Basic Facts about Hormone Replacement Therapy
However, HRTs do not come without risk. Let’s talk about a few of your choices.
These are the options most commonly prescribed by doctors and used by women. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that all pharmaceutical hormone therapies (including hormonal birth control) should only be taken for five years before giving your body a rest.
Possible Side Effects:
- Higher risk of respiratory issues, blood clots, and heart disease
- Weight gain and water retention
- Could lead to endometriosis, fibroids, or gallstones
- Does increase personal cancer risk
These hormone-replacement therapies are also called “natural hormone therapy” because your body treats them almost identically to how it processed your natural hormones. Bio-identical HRTs are more compatible to the human body with fewer chemical additives but the side effects are similar to those for pharmaceutical HRTs and birth control.
You can opt to take the supplement route but you must always be aware that the FDA doesn’t monitor herbs and supplements for quality and consistency. However, if you have a reputable and trustworthy company, it can be a more natural option.
Remember, if you’re taking prescription medications, you need to talk to your doctor about possible drug interactions. This is especially true if you have a pre-existing condition (medication or not).Eat right, get quality sleep, and keep your body moving no matter your age. #BasicLifeRulesClick To Tweet
Maintaining Your Right to Choice
All of us will eventually go through menopause and none of our accounts will be exactly the same. That’s the nature of the human body. Our ancestors powered through with little or no pharmaceutical or supplemental intervention but whether or not you choose to do the same is up to you. The right option for you isn’t necessarily right for every woman.
No matter what your choice, take care of you. I hope you’re one of the 50% who never experience any side effects as your body transitions from menstrual to post-menopausal.
If you do happen to get the worst menopause has to offer, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor, your friends, and your significant other about how you feel and what you’re going through. In your particular case, a slightly higher risk for measurable relief may be worth it.
You don’t have to suffer. A short-term (less than five years) pharmaceutical hormone replacement therapy may help and most insurance companies have them on the list of covered drugs. Get through the worst of it and move on with your life.
In the meantime, eat right, get quality sleep, and keep your body moving no matter your age.
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