While the average age for the onset of menopause is 51, estrogen can fluctuate in the years leading up to menopause (called perimenopause). Once you enter menopause and your ovaries are no longer producing estrogen, it’s highly likely that you’ll experience the classic symptoms of hot flashes and night sweats. These symptoms can be relieved through hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
“The decision on whether or not to have HRT is an individual one, and we will help you evaluate the benefits and risks in order to come up with a solution that will help you,” said Dr. Pat Chappell. “We also urge our patients to speak with us before taking any herbal or alternative remedies, as these can sometimes interact with other medications.”
What Are the Benefits of Hormone Therapy?
Primarily, hormone replacement therapy helps alleviate the most common symptoms of menopause, which are:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- A thinner vaginal lining, which can result in painful sex
- An increased risk of urinary tract infections
In general, hormone replacement therapy involves taking estrogen since your ovaries no longer produce it. It is also recommended that you take progestin with the estrogen, as there is a greater risk for uterine cancer when using estrogen alone. However, if you’ve had a hysterectomy and no longer have a uterus, then estrogen-only therapy may be the right choice.
“Determining the type of HRT that is right for you involves carefully evaluating your health care history, any chronic medical conditions you have, and examining what type of approach will give you greatest relief from your symptoms,” said Dr. Pat Chappell.
What Are the Different Types of Hormonal Treatment?
Typically, we offer both systemic therapy and local estrogen therapy.
During systemic therapy, estrogen is released into your entire bloodstream and can be used by tissues and organs. It may be delivered as a pill or a patch. This type of therapy is most effective for preventing bone loss, which can help reduce the risk of hip and spine fractures.
Local estrogen therapy is designed to target vaginal symptoms. If you are struggling with many of the symptoms listed above, then this is often the best course of treatment. This therapy can be delivered in the form of vaginal tablets, rings or cream, which will release small doses of estrogen.
Can I Use Alternative Treatments for Symptoms of Menopause?
While supplements such as soy, black cohosh and others have been used to provide relief from menopausal symptoms, these products are not regulated. Therefore, there are no safeguards to ensure that all products have safe ingredients and effective dosages. (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) In addition, it’s important to realize that these herbal treatments may interact with other medications you’re taking. If you are considering using natural alternative treatments, we encourage you to speak with us first.
We Offer Comprehensive Gynecological Care for All of Life’s Stages
We’ve served several generations of women—some even in the same family! We have the combined benefit of state-of-the-art medical technology with a caring team of physicians, nurses, midwives and other health care professionals dedicated to providing compassionate, comprehensive health care at every stage in your life’s journey. Contact us to schedule an appointment. We consider it a privilege to serve you.
For more than 40 years, Chapel Hill OBGYN has served women in the Triangle area, sharing the joy of little miracles and supporting them during challenges. Our board-certified physicians and certified nurse midwives bring together the personal experience and convenience of a private practice with the state-of-the-art resources found at larger organizations. To schedule an appointment, please contact us for more information.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “Hormone Therapy:FAQ.”
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “The Menopause Years.”
National Institute of Health. “The Heart Truth.”