There are a lot of questions around treating menopause symptoms with hormone therapy — we’ve got answers.
Want to put an end to hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings? Read on to find out if hormone therapy could help you find relief from those pesky menopause symptoms.
Q: What is hormone therapy?
After your period stops and you enter menopause (typically around age 50 for most women), your hormone levels fall, causing uncomfortable symptoms like vaginal dryness and those dreaded hot flashes. In some cases, plummeting hormones can contribute to bone loss and osteoporosis. Hormone therapy replaces the hormones your body is now missing, alleviating the related symptoms.
Q: What are the risks?
Initial studies found that hormone therapy might increase risk of breast cancer, heart disease, stroke and blood clots. But follow-up research has indicated that the type of therapy and how it’s taken can make a difference and produce different results.
Q: Are there side effects?
Most of the side effects are similar to PMS symptoms — bloating, breast tenderness, headaches and nausea. Hormone therapy can also cause some vaginal spotting, and this bleeding might be a bit heavier for some women. While this is a normal side effect of hormone therapy, it’s important to tell your doctor about any postmenopausal bleeding, as it can be a sign of endometrial cancer.
Q: What are the benefits?
Hormone therapy is the most effective way to treat the symptoms of menopause. It can offer relief from hot flashes and night sweats, improve uncomfortable vaginal dryness, and prevent the bone loss that often occurs in early menopause, helping to prevent hip and spine fractures. Some forms of hormone therapy may also reduce your risk of colon cancer.
Q: How do I know if it’s right for me?
It’s important to consider whether the benefits outweigh the risks, so talk to your doctor about your symptoms and health history to decide what’s best for you. In general, hormone therapy should be used at the lowest possible dose for the shortest amount of time needed to help alleviate symptoms.