We believe there are both benefits and risks associated with any medication or hormone replacement therapy, so education, information, and awareness of your personal and family medical histories should all be part of the decision-making process before deciding whether HRT is right for you.
Keep Informed About HRT & Use it Wisely.
As menopause.org states, “The North American Menopause Society, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and The Endocrine Society take the position that most healthy, recently menopausal women can use hormone therapy for relief of their symptoms of hot flashes and vaginal dryness if they so choose.”
It’s also important to remember that while menopause and hormone replacement therapy now go hand in hand, hormone therapy is also used for other conditions. The bottom line is that you should never take any prescription recommended to you without learning more about it, going over all of the risks and benefits, and then seeing how the risk/benefits resonate with your own personal and family medical history.
You May be a Candidate for Hormone Therapy If…
First and foremost, you should never take any type of hormone supplement without approval and the close supervision of your primary physician or OB/GYN. The risks associated with hormone replacement therapy are 100% related to dosage and longevity. Healthy use of HRT requires consistent monitoring.
The following are some of the scenarios that make you a stronger candidate for hormone replacement therapy.
You don’t want to get pregnant
While not discussed in this way very often, hormonal birth control options – including the pill, the Depo-Provera shot, patches, and certain IUDs – are all versions of hormone therapy. They restructure your body’s natural hormone balance to prevent ovulation. If you aren’t interested in getting pregnant, hormone-based birth control is by far the most successful means of preventing pregnancy.
Control the symptoms of PCOS
Some types of hormone therapy, using birth control pills and/or the use of progesterone supplementation have been shown to help manage the symptoms of PCOS. Depending on your experience, we typically begin treating patients with PCOS by making lifestyle changes and natural supplementation and seeing what happens. If these don’t provide relief, we can begin discussing hormone supplements and/or other medications that can help.
To help you get pregnant
If you don’t ovulate regularly, or you are struggling to conceive, your doctor may discuss hormone supplements that can help. If your hormones are out of balance, you may be prescribed the same types of supplements we use to treat women going through menopause. In other cases, you may consider the use of Clomid, an oral fertility medication, that helps to stimulate a more normal fertility-friendly hormone balance.
You are suffering from menopause symptoms
Some of the most common symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, trouble sleeping, moodiness or irritability, weight gain (and difficulty losing weight), as well as vaginal dryness or pain/discomfort during sexual intercourse. In almost all cases, these symptoms are a nuisance to be sure, and can be downright unpleasant, but they are not extreme and they fade away after menopause is reached.
For some women, however, these symptoms are extreme and they can be debilitating. This is especially true for sexually active women who begin to shy away from intimacy with their partners because it hurts. Regulating your hormone balance through the menopause roller coaster ride can ease all the typical symptoms, including vaginal dryness and pain. Because menopause is also associated with loss of bone density, it can also minimize your risk of developing osteoporosis.
That said, estrogen supplements can “feed” estrogen-happy breast cancers, which is why your personal and family medical history become such an important part of the equation. Studies have also linked HRT to elevated risk of blood clots, heart disease and strokes. Typically, we discourage any woman from using HRT for five-years or longer, at which point the risks are elevated.
Are you interested in learning whether you might need or benefit from hormone therapy? Schedule an appointment with OB/GYN Associates of Spokane. We are a private practice that is committed to providing comprehensive and compassionate care to our female patients – whether you have just started your period or are well-past menopause.