Menopause – Hormone Replacement Therapy

Hormone Replacement Therapy (or HRT)  is considered to be the best way to treat severe menopause symptoms and is available — via prescription — in several forms.

These forms include:

  • tablets
  • topical creams and gels
  • vaginal suppositories and rings
  • skin patches

If you feel that HRT is an option you might consider for managing menopause, you should contact your doctor to discuss both the benefits and the risks of HRT as they pertain to you personally.

Menopause Patch

Transdermal skin patches are used as a hormone delivery system to treat particular symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness, burning, and irritation.

They are called transdermal (“trans” meaning “through” and “dermal” referring to the dermis or skin). This is because the hormones in the patch are absorbed through the skin by blood vessels and then delivered throughout the body.

There are two types of patches:

  • estrogen (estradiol) patch
  • combination estrogen (estradiol) and progestin (norethindrone) patch

There are also low-dose estrogen patches, but these are principally used for reducing osteoporosis risk. They aren’t used for other menopause symptoms.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

The popularity of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has waxed and waned over the years. Treatment with synthetic hormones may be an option for some women whose hot flashes are debilitating and greatly affect the quality of their life.

Oestrogen supplements level out the amount of oestrogen in your system, reducing the incidence and severity of hot flashes and night sweats. Estrogen is usually taken with progestin to reduce the risk of developing endometrial cancer. It can be taken by pill, through a vaginal cream or gel, or a patch. A physician can help you make decisions is you are a candidate for HRT. Many women will not be able to take hormones or bio-identical hormone and your doctor will take a full medical history.

HRT Risk

The risks of HRT include:

This risk appears to be greater for women over the age of 60. Other factors that impact the risks include:

  • dose and type of estrogen
  • whether treatment includes estrogen alone or estrogen with progestin
  • current health condition
  • family medical history

Breast Cancer Risk?

Recent studies have suggested that the risks of HRT are greater than previously thought. In particular, there has been a lot of research into the link between HRT and rates of breast cancer. This has already led some women to stop or avoid the treatment.

Links

The Conversation – About HRT link to breast cancer 

ABC – Review of The Lancet report on HRT risks 

Healthline.com

HRT alternatives

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