Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has been the topic of numerous conflicting reports over the past couple of decades, with some clinical trials suggesting increased risks of certain health conditions, and other studies demonstrating its effectiveness in relieving symptoms associated with menopause and helping to prevent diseases such as osteoporosis and heart disease. If you’re considering hormone replacement therapy, it’s important to understand the facts so that you can make an informed decision.
What is hormone replacement therapy?
Hormone replacement therapy is a treatment used to supplement the body’s natural hormones in women who are experiencing menopause or in women who have had a hysterectomy. HRT is used to treat symptoms associated with declining hormone levels, which can include hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, insomnia, vaginal dryness, weight gain, anxiety, moodiness, dry skin, and low sex drive. HRT uses two types of hormones — estrogen and progesterone — to help relieve these symptoms and guard against osteoporosis.
In women who have had a hysterectomy, estrogen therapy can be used by itself. Women experiencing menopause naturally typically receive both estrogen and progesterone in order to continue the menstruation cycle and protect against uterine cancer.
The history of HRT
Hormone replacement therapy became available in the 1940s and started to become widely used in the 1960s. The popularity of HRT started to decline after 2003, when studies were released showing an association between HRT and an increased risk of breast cancer and heart disease. Many doctors stopped prescribing HRT at this time. The number of women receiving treatment fell by 66 percent and has remained low since.
However, many health experts have pointed out flaws in the original studies that led to the declining use of HRT. The women studied were in their mid-sixties and thus older than the average age of menopause (45-55). Other studies have shown no increased risk of heart disease when HRT is started within 10 years of starting menopause. The women in the original study were also overweight and thus may have already been at risk of certain health conditions. A separate 2012 study conducted in Denmark also showed that healthy women who started HRT immediately after menopause actually had a reduced risk of heart disease and a lower rate of death from heart disease.
Today, many doctors recommend hormone replacement therapy for women who are undergoing menopause. It is not recommended for women over the age of 60, but women who started taking HRT earlier do not have to stop when they turn 60.
Doctors generally view HRT a safe and effective form of treatment when it is taken to relieve symptoms of menopause and is taken at the lowest effective dose. Patients should continue seeing their general practitioner once a year for assessments.
Hormone replacement therapy for men
HRT is also available for men, to help treat symptoms related to andropause, which is marked by a drop in testosterone levels that many men experience as they age. Benefits of HRT for men can include increased energy, improved mood and mental focus, decreased blood pressure and cholesterol levels, weight loss, and improved muscle strength and sexual function.
Bio-identical HRT at Garcia Weight Loss and Wellness
Garcia Weight Loss and Wellness Centers offer a form of HRT that uses bio-identical hormones, meaning they are identical to the hormones produced by your own body. Bio-identical hormones have been shown to be more effective than synthetic hormones, and are associated with fewer unpleasant side effects. Contact us today to request a no-cost consultation and learn how hormone replacement therapy can help you look and feel your best!