Menopause is a phase of life all women ultimately undergo. Sometimes, however, menopause doesn’t feel normal at all. The hot flashes, sleepless nights, and other symptoms that accompany this change of life may prompt some to ask their doctors about hormone replacement therapy.
How do you know when hormone therapy is called for? Are there ways to manage your symptoms yourself? Here’s what you need to know.
What is Menopause?
A women’s ovaries regulate the hormones that make pregnancy possible. From puberty until menopause, estrogen and progesterone levels rise and fall but remain at a certain level. Once a woman reaches menopause, typically between 50 and 54 years of age in the United States, the ovaries shrink and hormone levels fall, too.
A woman may enter early menopause following surgery to remove the ovaries, or as a result of certain conditions. Induced or early menopause causes similar symptoms as does natural menopause that occurs in mid-life.
Most Common Symptoms of Menopause
The most common symptoms that accompany drops in estrogen levels are so-called hot flashes. Night sweats are hot flashes that happen while you are sleeping. Apart from being uncomfortable and embarrassing for some women, hot flashes can also cause sleeplessness and fatigue.
Estrogen also plays an important role in keeping the walls of the vagina elastic and lubricated. So, during menopause when estrogen levels ebb, some women may experience vaginal dryness and pain during intercourse.
Do I Need Hormone Therapy?
It is impossible for any one person to judge whether hot flashes and other menopause symptoms warrant hormone replacement therapy. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, hormone replacement therapy can improve quality of life. It is not designed to “cure” anyone of menopause, but to alleviate the worst of its symptoms.
You doctor will probably ask about your symptoms and your lifestyle, questions such as:
- Are your symptoms interfering with your professional or personal life?
- Do you maintain an active social network?
- Do you exercise regularly?
- Do you smoke?
- Do you drink alcohol in excess or do you use recreational or illicit drugs?
Your doctor may also ask about your medical history, specifically if you have a history of:
- High blood pressure
- Blood clots
- Circulation problems
- Unexplained headaches
If so, your doctor may recommend against hormone replacement therapy and instead advise you to take calcium supplements, check cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and to engage in aerobic and strength building exercise.
In addition, other treatments are available to treat menopause symptoms. For example, there are vaginal creams and devices that can deliver estrogen locally if you are worried about taking hormone replacement pills or patches.
The entire staff at Lady’s Care Center dedicates itself to your care and health. We are here to answer any questions you may have about bioidentical hormone replacement treatments and other health care services. Call us today at (954) 538-1700. Or, if you prefer, you can use our secure and private appointment request form available online.