Hormones are the chemical messengers of the body. When there are too few in your body, especially the hormone estrogen, hormone replacement therapy might be recommended.
Sent from endocrine glands, such as the pituitary, the ovaries, and the testes, hormones are released into the bloodstream with instructions on how organs and tissues are to behave.
Hormones regulate just about all of your body systems, from appetite to metabolism and even sleep patterns. When people don’t take care of their health needs or get enough sleep, a hormonal imbalance may occur.
Hormone replacement therapy, primarily known as menopausal hormone therapy, is used to replace the estrogen that women stop producing during menopause. This type of hormone therapy treats menopausal symptoms like vaginal discomfort and hot flashes.
Of course like any type of treatment, there are also risks of hormone replacement therapy.
Types of Hormone Replacement Therapy
Previously, doctors mostly prescribed synthetic forms of estrogen and progesterone, known as Premarin and Provera.
Recently these have become less popular when clinical trials identified some risks to this type of hormone replacement therapy. Many health professionals now prefer to use bioidentical hormones in treating the symptoms of menopause like Estrace and Vagifem which are produced from elements found in nature.
However, some patients will require a mixture of hormones that are not produced on a commercial scale. In this case, a customized compound of bioidentical hormones will be created by a pharmacist to replace depleted hormones.
What Are the Risks of Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Some hormone replacement therapies have been found to increase the risk of certain conditions like stroke, heart disease, blood clots, and breast cancer.
The risks of hormone replacement therapy depend on several factors: type of hormone therapy, length of treatment, dosage, and individual medical conditions.
- Age: Women who begin hormone replacement therapy when they are 60 or older (or 10 years after menopause had begun) were found to be at greater risk for serious side effects. But when women began hormone therapy before 60 (or within 10 years of starting menopause) the risks were significantly less.
- Medical History: A patient’s personal and family history including risks of heart disease, blood clots, cancer, stroke, and osteoporosis can be important considerations when determining if hormone replacement therapy is right for you.
- Type of Therapy: Specific risks of hormone replacement therapy are tied to the amounts of hormone medication one takes and whether you will be taking estrogen by itself or together with progestin.
If you want to know more about hormone replacement therapy, hormonal imbalance, or are suffering from menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, then let’s talk.