A Guide to Hormone Therapy for Perimenopause and Beyond
So, you’ve hit perimenopause, and the symptoms are hitting you hard: sleepless nights, irritability, night sweats, hot flashes, weight gain, and a disappearing libido. Not exactly a party, right? It’s time to consider hormone therapy (HT), but before you dive in, let’s clear up some misconceptions and explore your options.
First, be sure that you are going to a Menopause Specialist! According to a Johns Hopkins study, only one in five OBGN residents receive menopause training! Your Menopause Specialist is your business partner in this menopause business. So pick wisely!!!!
Share your current and past health history and that of your immediate family, your symptoms, and your preferences with your Menopause Specialist. This will help your practitioner determine if HT is right for your health needs.
Why the Fear of HT? The scaremongering sparked by the 2002 Women’s Health Initiative has left many women and even healthcare professionals wary of hormone therapy. But fear not! Recent scientific findings show that for most healthy women, the benefits of HT under the age of sixty managing menopause symptoms far outweigh the risks.
The Benefits of HT: HT isn’t just about alleviating hot flashes and night sweats; it can also improve sleep quality, mood swings, fatigue, and overall quality of life. Additionally, it helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis and broken bones and treats conditions like GSM (genitourinary syndrome of menopause), which causes painful sex, recurrent UTIs, and vaginal dryness.
Since the number one killer of women is heart disease, the Cedars-Sinai study gives women another fact to consider: Women receiving HT had lower levels of atherosclerosis—plaque buildup in the arteries—and were more likely to see other health benefits as well.
Types of HT:
- Estrogen Therapy (ET): This involves using estrogen alone, suitable for women who’ve had a hysterectomy. It tackles symptoms like hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and bone loss.
- Combined Hormone Therapy (CHT): Combining estrogen with progestogen, CHT is for women with a uterus to protect against endometrial cancer.
- Local Estrogen Therapy (LET): These treatments are inserted into the vagina and keep the vulva and urethra healthy. It is used to address symptoms of vaginal atrophy, such as dryness, itching, burning, and pain during intercourse. LET comes in various forms, including vaginal creams, tablets, rings, or suppositories.
Bioidentical vs. Non-Bioidentical HT: Bioidentical hormones mimic those naturally produced by your body, sourced from plants, and tailored to your needs. On the other hand, non-bioidentical hormones differ in structure and may come from animal sources.
Choosing Wisely: Be cautious of hormones with two names—bioidentical hormones maintain a single name (e.g., estradiol), while non-bioidentical hormones may have multiple (e.g., ethinyl estradiol). Educate yourself and choose what’s right for you.
Finding Your Solution: Assess your quality of life honestly and refuse to settle. Every woman’s journey through menopause is unique. Explore your options and consult with an actual Menopause Specialist to find the best fit for your needs.
There is no hard set age to go off of your hormones. This should be done in conversation with your Menopause Specialist. Some women choose to ease off their HT, while others never want to go off!
Keep Exploring: Base your healthcare decisions on facts instead of fear! Stay informed, stay empowered, and embrace this new phase of life with confidence.