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Menopause

Is Hormone Replacement Therapy Safe During Menopause Everything You Need to Know

Is Hormone Replacement Therapy Safe During Menopause? Everything You Need to Know

Written and Reviewed by Dr. Uzma Qureshi
Published on: 23/04/2024
women sitting and thinking Is Hormone Replacement Therapy Safe During Menopause
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If you are going through the menopause transition, remember that you are not alone. Around 1/3rd of the female population in the UK is about to or has reached this phase already. There is a long list of symptoms associated with both perimenopause and menopause, so many women choose hormone replacement therapy. Now the question is, ‘Is hormone replacement therapy safe during menopause?’ Let’s learn together.

In this blog, you will learn about HRT and its routes of administration for reducing the bothersome symptoms of your transition. And whether or not it is safe to use. 

What is hormone replacement therapy?

Long before the end of your period, your body starts preparing for it by reducing the levels of hormones like oestrogen and progesterone. These declining hormone levels are the reasons you experience blood pressure changes, night sweats, and vaginal itching. When these symptoms get severe, they disturb your daily and social life. 

To manage the declining hormone levels and associated symptoms, scientists developed hormone therapy, also known as hormone replacement therapy. Your body is given estradiol and estriol, which are produced by the ovaries (indogenous hormones). Some of the hormones made in the lab called conjugated equine oestrogen (CEE), are given. This laboratory-made hormone is not identical to what your body produces but shares the same functions and indications. But the lingering question is: Is hormone replacement therapy safe during menopause? You will get the answer to it.

What menopause symptoms does it treat?

This treatment method utilises oestrogen and progesterone to effectively manage the symptoms. Here are specific symptoms managed by these hormones.

Oestrogen replacement therapy

Oestrogen replacement therapy involves providing you with estriol, estradiol, and CEE. It treats symptoms like:

  1. Hot flashes.
  2. Night sweats.
  3. Pain during sex.
  4. Weak and brittle bones.
  5. Sleep disturbance.
  6. Lack of sleep.
  7. Headaches/migraines
  8. Urinary tract infections
  9. Increased blood pressure

Progesterone therapy

When oestrogen is given alone, it increases the possible risk of uterus abnormalities. It can cause the inner lining of your uterus to grow abnormally. Here comes progesterone; it’s given along with oestrogen to protect your uterus’ lining. 

Giving progesterone can treat the following menopause symptoms:

  1. Absent periods.
  2. Abnormal bleeding from the uterus.
  3. Abnormal growth of the tissues in the uterus.

How is HRT given?

Have you decided to ditch those unpleasant menopause symptoms and are curious to learn about modes of hormone replacement therapy? To cater to your needs and enhance your quality of life, it is administered in various forms. 

Here are some frequently used routes for providing this therapy:

  1. Oral route

The most frequent route is the use of tablets or pills. The majority of the tablets prescribed by your doctor are conjugated equine oestrogens (Estace, Estratab, and Ogen). Oestrogen in this form goes directly into your blood, but it has shown the risk of blood clot formation in the deep veins inside your body. You should always take these medications according to your doctor’s prescription.

  1. Transdermal route

Skin is another route to take medications. Your skin can absorb the medicine and let it penetrate the blood, but at a lower dose, thus controlling the risks. Gels, creams, and sprays are available to give you your much-needed dose of oestrogen and protect you from pesky symptoms. EstroGel, Estrasorb, and Estromist are a few examples. 

Abdominal patching is another way to get oestrogen. You wear these patches for a period ranging from a few days to weeks. It depends on what is written on your prescription. Menostar is an abdominal patch that has a low dose of oestrogen and is used to reduce the risk of your bones getting weaker. 

  1. Vaginal route

As there are a lot of issues with the vagina during menopause, like dryness, itching, and painful sex, the vaginal route is the best way to solve them. 

Vaginal tablets, gels, creams, and rings are there to help you with all these vaginal symptoms. Your doctor will guide you on how to use the tables and for how long you need to insert the vaginal ring (also called a femring or starring). Vagifem is an example of the most commonly used oestrogen vaginal tablet. 

Is hormone replacement therapy safe during menopause?

Are you looking forward to managing your symptoms but concerned about their safety? It is a very common and important concern when it comes to choosing treatment for menopause. 

For improving the quality of life and managing disturbing symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disturbances, and vaginal burning, hormone replacement therapy is considered the safest and most effective treatment option. 

Long-term HRT has adverse effects like stroke and coronary heart disease. Researchers suggest that it has the most benefits and the least incidence of adverse effects when used within 10 years after your period stops. You should start using it before you reach the age of 60.

Moreover, it is safe when you use the lowest doses possible for a few years only and under the supervision of your doctor. 

What are the benefits and risks?

After you get an answer to the query, ‘Is hormone replacement therapy safe during menopause?’ You may be interested in knowing its benefits and risks. 

No doubt, taking oestrogen and progesterone to treat disturbing conditions makes your daily life easy, but stay careful when using them for longer durations, especially in high doses. Let’s learn how it benefits you and what the risks are.

Benefits:

The following are the benefits of this treatment:

  1. No episodes of hot flashes
  2. No night sweating 
  3. Improved sleep quality
  4. Healthy bones
  5. Easy vagina (no burning or itching)
  6. Comfortable sex (no pain or burning)
  7. Boosted confidence

Risks:

Long-term use of this therapy includes the following risks:

  1. Stroke
  2. Heart disease (the buildup of cholesterol and fat in the arteries supplying blood to your heart)
  3. Blood clots are forming in deep veins.
  4. The blood clots from deep veins can travel into the lungs. 

Bottomline

It can be hard to go through menopause transitions, but hormone replacement therapy can help make it easier. It helps reduce vaginal dryness and hot flashes and improves bone health that starts deteriorating after your reproductive years. 

Then the question arises: ‘Is hormone replacement therapy safe during menopause?’ It is suggested that this is a better treatment option after 10 years of your last menstrual period. Though there are side effects, using it for fewer years and at lesser doses is seen as less harmful. 

The key is to talk to your doctor first.  They can help you figure out the best way to treat you by weighing the possible pros and cons. Never forget that you’re not the only one going through this; millions of women have made it through menopause with the help of HRT.

FAQs

1. Is hormone replacement therapy safe to use during menopause for me?

Yes, if you are dealing with unpleasant menopause symptoms, HRT is a safe treatment option. Keep in mind that it is most effective within the first 10 years of menopause and should be taken in the lowest possible doses for fewer years only. 

2. Are there any long-term risks for HRT?

Yes, HRT, if used for extended periods, can cause stroke, heart disease, breast cancer, and the formation of blood clots in your deep veins. Always talk to your doctor and check, ‘Is hormone replacement therapy safe during menopause for you? Then opt for this treatment. 

3. Is there any best treatment for menopause?

Oestrogen is considered an effective treatment for relieving bothersome symptoms of menopause like hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings. Always consider talking to your doctor about your symptoms so they will prescribe you the best treatment for you.

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