Though some women sail through menopause with nary a bump in the road, others are saddled with ongoing side effects that can have a serious quality-of-life impact. If you find yourself more toward the latter, there’s a solution that will help make your transition a little less tumultuous — hormone replacement therapy.
Here at OB/GYN Specialists, we partner with women in Denton, Texas to help them negotiate every stage of life with the tools they need for healthy and happy living. To help us achieve this goal, we follow the latest research to ensure that we provide the latest evidence-based treatment protocols. Here’s what we found when it comes to treating menopausal symptoms with hormone replacement therapy.
Estrogen — Beyond reproduction
Your primary sex hormone is estrogen, which is largely produced in your ovaries. Estrogen oversees your reproductive system in many obvious (egg production, for example) and not-so-obvious ways. And it usually isn’t until your estrogen begins to drop off that you begin to notice the more subtle influences of estrogen.
For starters, estrogen controls, among other things, the health of your tissue, especially your vaginal tissue, to facilitate conception and childbirth. When this reproductive hormone dries up so, too, does the tissue in your vagina, which can lead to painful intercourse.
Estrogen also encourages osteoblasts, which are the cells in your body responsible for making bone. The reason why women are so vulnerable to osteoporosis is because the signaling that promotes osteoblast activity is greatly reduced with the loss of estrogen.
Estrogen also has an impact on your brain, though medical researchers haven’t clearly defined the link. What they do know is that estrogen has some input on your moods, and when production starts to wane, some women are left dealing with depression, anxiety, or mood swings.
Finding a suitable substitute
Hormone replacement therapy has been around for several decades, but in recent years, medical researchers have come up with more alternatives, including plant-based products that are synthesized into a suitable hormone replacement. This fact serves both to confirm and dispel one ongoing assumption about current hormone replacement therapies: Bio-identical hormone replacement therapies aren’t “all natural,” as they’re manufactured in a lab, but they are based on natural biology that mimics our own.
What can hormone replacement therapy accomplish?
It’s important to note that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to hormone replacement therapy. We take the time to sit down with each of our patients and discuss their symptoms and their goals to design an appropriate treatment plan.
In most cases, we typically start out conservatively to see whether a low-dose therapy will help offset some of your more bothersome symptoms, like hot flashes and moodiness. The great thing about hormone replacement therapy is that we can make the necessary tweaks in your dosing to bring you relief. In other words, our goal isn’t to override your body’s natural processes, but ease the rocky transition caused by the “cold turkey” drop-off of estrogen.
If you’re concerned about bone health, estrogen does help ward off osteoporosis, and this therapy is approved by the FDA for that goal.
Hormone replacement therapies have also helped women overcome incontinence by providing a boost to their vaginal health. This improvement in vaginal health also helps with painful sex brought about by vaginal dryness.
Not for everyone
When hormone replacement therapy was first introduced, its long-term side effects weren’t fully understood. Today, we know that women who have a history of reproductive cancers, including breast and uterine cancer, as well as women with cardiovascular or clotting issues, need to proceed with caution when it comes to hormone replacement therapies.
Rest assured; we thoroughly review your past and current medical history before we recommend hormone replacement therapy. Still, these cases are the minority, and millions of women have found relief from their menopausal symptoms through hormone replacement therapy.
If you’d like to learn more, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. Or you can use the online scheduling tool on this website to set up an appointment.