Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy

Hormone therapy

Hormone Therapy

Menopause is the stage in a woman’s life when menstrual period stops and she can no longer bear children.

Some symptoms of menopause actually start a year before a menstruation period stops.  This is called by the doctors as “perimenopause” which refers to the time period beginning prior to full menopause.  It is defined as having no menstrual period for 12 months.

Menopause begins gradually while the ovaries are still functioning and a woman is still having menstrual periods.  It can begin as early as a woman in her 30’s. Early menopause happens because the level of the hormones estrogen and progesterone slowly deteriorates.  This is why sometimes a woman is still fertile and gets pregnant later in life, although it is less likely to occur as a woman reaches her forties.

Menopause symptoms can be assessed as physical problems, emotional disturbances, or problems associated with sexual functioning.

This is where Hormone therapy then comes in.  Hormone therapy refers to estrogen or a combination of estrogen and progesterone treatment.  This is a general term used that refers to the administration of estrogen therapy (E.T.) alone for women who have not undergone hysterectomy, or combined estrogen and progestin therapy for women who still have their uterus.

For treating menopause symptoms research shows hormone therapy is still safe and effective for women.  Also estrogen therapy is the most effective prescription medication prescribed today.  Estrogen reduces or removes several menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, disturbed sleep due to hot flashes, and vaginal dryness.

It is best that estrogen therapy be performed with progesterone to reduce the risk of uterine cancer.

Estrogen in pill, patch, or gel form is the most effective therapy to suppress hot flashes.  To avoid uterine cancer, estrogen therapy is dispensed with progestin for women who have not undergone hysterectomy.  For those who have undergone a hysterectomy, estrogen therapy can be administered and expected to be sufficient to keep symptoms in check.

Along with postive effects of undergoing hormone therapy there are also minor and serious effects.


Minor effects such as headaches, nausea, and breast pain which to some women observed as annoying have been observed.  If the side effect persists for a few months, the doctor will administer it alternating with progesterone therapy.

The serious effects such as:

  • Hormone therapy increases the risk of vein clots in the legs and blood clots in the lungs by about 2 or 3 fold. This is bad for women who have history of blood clots but for healthy women risk is minimal.
  • According to studies done, it shows that women who still have their uterus and are undergoing hormone therapy are at risk of endometrial or uterine cancer. Progestin protects a woman from having uterine cancer.
  • Hormone therapy is not good for women with heart disease because it increases the risk of heart attacks in women. It does not prevent heart attack based on recent researches.
  • When receiving hormone therapy, some women may experience abnormal vaginal bleeding. It becomes abnormal if it occurs when it is not expected or it is excessively heavy or long in duration.  It also becomes abnormal if it lasts for more than a year.  When abnormal bleeding occurs, a doctor takes a sample of the lining of the uterus to rule out an abnormality or cancer in the uterus.  After the assessment is done and the doctor finds out nothing is wrong, hormone therapy will be adjusted to curtail further abnormal bleeding.
  • Hormone therapy can also cause a stroke.

Hormone therapy is usually prescribed by the doctors as a combination of estrogen and another synthetic female hormone.  Estrogen is available as pills, tablets, patches, creams, mist sprays, or vaginal preparations.  Progestin is also taken in pill form and together with estrogen it is also available in patch or cream form.

Women with hot flashes especially when it causes sleep disturbances can depend on hormone therapy to relieve their symptoms.

For women who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, you should refer first you’re your doctor.  You might be prescribed non-estrogen medication such as alendronate, residronate, raloxitene, teriparatide and calcitonin to prevent and treat osteoporosis.

Hormone therapy can be prescribed for those women with vaginal dryness or itching.  Depending on their situation, they could use pills, skin patches, gel or vaginal form of estrogen.

Women with breast cancer or uterus cancer, heart disease, with personal history of deep vein thrombosis, or with phospholipids antibodies or lupus anticoagulant should not use hormone therapy.

Women on hormone therapy should undergo a thorough yearly check up. You should undergo a yearly mammogram to check masses in the breasts that might possibly be cancer.  Your bleeding pattern should be discussed with your doctor to be sure it is within expected pattern.

For women who refuse to use hormone therapy, ask your doctor other methods available to deal with symptoms of menopause.  Although hormone therapy is the best method for relieving hot flashes other non-hormonal medications can also reduce hot flashes.

This is just our suggestions, consult with your doctor about your symptoms and follow their directions specific for your best health.

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