Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
How does HRT work?
Symptoms of menopause are caused by your body adjusting to lower levels of hormones – particularly oestrogen – which our bodies stop producing as we get older. HRT mimics the effects of naturally produced hormones, thus reducing menopause symptoms, as well as protecting us from heart disease and osteoporosis.
There are different types of HRT but all of them contain oestrogen. This is often supplemented with progesterone and sometimes with testosterone. HRT can be taken as a pill, applied as a cream or a patch. How you choose to take yours will depend on your medical history, lifestyle and personal preference.
What are the pros and cons of HRT?
HRT is highly effective at controlling the unpleasant symptoms caused by the menopause. It significantly reduces hot flushes, night sweats and improves quality of sleep. It may also improve your mood – helping with anxiety, depression and irritability.
But oestrogen not only regulates our reproductive system, but also keeps our bones strong and protects us from heart disease. Nowadays many women live well into their 80’s and even 90’s so are spending nearly half their lives without the protective qualities of oestrogen. HRT extends the time our bodies are exposed to oestrogen which help us to a have a healthier old age.
While many women have found huge benefits in taking HRT there are a number who have been put off by media reports in the early 2000’s associating it with increased risks of breast cancer. More recent studies have shown that these reports were somewhat overstated. The risk of breast cancer depends on the type of HRT taken and how long it has been taken. HRT is also associated with a slight increased possibility of developing blot clots so women who might be at risk can take HRT in the form of a gel or a patch rather than a tablet.
Miss Nair will talk through all the benefits and risks of taking HRT at your consultation. She will make sure that you have a good understanding so that you can make an informed decision about whether you want to take HRT – it is your choice after all.
Can you take HRT in the perimenopause?
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The perimenopause is the stage leading up to the menopause, which is when your periods actually stop. Studies suggest that there are health benefits of taking HRT in these early stages – even if your symptoms are not yet particularly severe and you are still having periods. A steady level of oestrogen will help to control symptoms later on and reduce the risk of heart disease and bone fractures as a result of osteoporosis.