When is Hormone Therapy the Best Option for Managing Menopause Symptoms?

Menopause, or the end of menstruation and female fertility, doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it’s a gradual process that begins when your maturing ovaries begin producing lower levels of estrogen and progesterone — the main reproductive hormones that control your menstrual cycle and make pregnancy possible. 

Although progressive reproductive hormone depletion is well underway by the time you’re 35, most women don’t reach menopause until they’re in their late 40s or early 50s. In the United States, the average age for menopause is 52; it officially begins one year after your final period (or immediately following a radical hysterectomy).    

During perimenopause, or the years of transition between the end of your prime reproductive years and menopause itself, declining hormone levels can affect more than the regularity of your period or your ability to conceive — they can also trigger a variety of symptoms, ranging from hot flashes and night sweats to insomnia and mood swings.  

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), or the supplementation of reproductive hormones that your body no longer produces at the same levels, has long been the go-to treatment solution for bothersome menopause symptoms. While HRT may not be the best choice for some women, it has helped countless others manage the “change of life” more comfortably.

If you’ve been considering HRT, here are a few signs that it may be an ideal solution for you.  

You have multiple symptoms

Declining hormone levels can lead to a wide range of physical and emotional symptoms; that’s why menopause affects each woman differently. But while most women expect to experience hallmark symptoms like hot flashes and mood swings, many aren’t prepared to deal with chronic vaginal dryness, regular sleep disturbances, low energy, a sluggish metabolism, or newfound feelings of anxiety. 

If you’re experiencing multiple menopause symptoms, low-dose systemic HRT can be a highly effective solution. On top of putting an end to hot flashes, cold flashes, vaginal dryness, and sexual discomfort, HRT can help regulate your metabolism, mood, and energy levels so you feel more like yourself again. 

Your symptoms are severe 

Even if you only experience one or two menopause symptoms, but those symptoms are so severe, irritating, or disruptive that they interfere with daily life, HRT may be your best option. 

Hot flashes, one of the most common menopause symptoms, can also be one of the most disruptive. During a hot flash episode, your upper body suddenly heats up, causing facial flushing and the emergence of red blotches on your chest, back, neck, and arms. Hot flashes also cause many women to sweat profusely, often to the point that a change of clothes is required.     

Up to 75% of women experience hot flashes during perimenopause, and many women keep having them long after the transition to menopause is complete. In fact, research shows that some women continue to experience hot flashes for up to 14 years after reaching menopause. 

Although there are different ways you can manage hot flashes once they start, the right form of HRT can help you avoid them altogether.   

You’ve started having (more) migraines 

About 28 million adults in the United States experience chronic migraines, and a full 70% of them are women. Researchers believe women are more prone to these debilitating headaches because of normal cyclical fluctuations in estrogen. 

Hormonal fluctuations are a major migraine trigger for many women; in fact, half of all women who suffer from chronic migraines throughout adulthood say they usually experience migraines just before their menstrual period, when estrogen levels are falling. 

This helps explain why existing migraine problems often become worse during perimenopause, as estrogen levels steadily decline. Even women who’ve never had a migraine before may experience a severe, hormone-triggered headache for the first time during this stage.

With the right dose and delivery method, HRT can successfully stabilize your hormone levels to greatly reduce or completely prevent menopause-related migraine episodes.

Lifestyle changes don’t help

When menopause symptoms are mild or infrequent, a few specific lifestyle changes may be all it takes to find effective relief. For example, many women manage their symptoms by staying hydrated, getting plenty of exercise, eating a nutritious diet, and dressing in comfortable layers. If lifestyle strategies aren’t as helpful as you’d like, however, it may be time to consider HRT. 

Important health considerations

Despite its numerous and substantial benefits, HRT isn’t right for everyone. You should avoid HRT if you have a personal or family history of hormone-related cancers like breast cancer or ovarian cancer. It’s also not a safe treatment option if you have a history of heart disease, stroke, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), liver disease, or gallbladder disease.     

If a detailed medical history and comprehensive physical exam shows that you are a good candidate for HRT, our team can measure your hormone levels and prescribe the exact amount you need to restore optimal balance for maximal symptom relief.  

 To discover what HRT can do for you, call our Poway, California office today, or use the easy online tool to schedule an appointment with Dr. Cobb or Dr. Islam any time. 

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