Picture this: You’re in your car, when suddenly you putter to a stop — your tank is empty, and you're miles from the next gas station.
That’s what happens to your body during menopause, but the”fuel” is hormones. Fortunately, you don’t have to go far to fill up. You can think of hormone therapy as a gas station for your body, replenishing your hormones so your body can make on its own.
But it may not be for everyone.
Dr. Donald Jones and our team at Ozark Obstetrics & Gynecology in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, have years of experience helping women find relief from their menopause symptoms and thrive despite of them, often with the help of hormone therapy. In this blog, we discuss hormone therapy and help you decide if and when it’s right for you.
Hormone therapy is fairly simple. It’s a medication that replaces the estrogen you’ve lost and address symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal discomfort. There are two main types of hormone therapy: systemic and low-dose vaginal.
Systemic hormone therapy contains a higher dose of estrogen. It typically comes in a pill, skin patch, ring, gel, cream, or spray.
This type of hormone therapy minimizes the amount of estrogen your body absorbs, so we only recommend it if your main complaints are vaginal or urinary symptoms. Low-dose vaginal hormone therapy comes in cream, tablet, or ring form.
A note on your uterus
Whether or not you still have your uterus also plays a role in which type of hormone therapy we recommend. We usually prescribe estrogen with progesterone or progestin if you still have your uterus because estrogen alone can trigger uterine lining growth, increasing your risk for endometrial cancer.
If you’ve had a hysterectomy, you may be okay to not take an estrogen-progestin combination.
The ideal candidate
Menopause and the symptoms it causes are frustrating enough without trying to wade through all your possible treatments. If you manage your symptoms well with basic lifestyle adjustments, we may not recommend hormone therapy. But if your symptoms get out of control and start to impact your daily life, we discuss the possibility of hormone therapy.
The ideal candidates check these boxes:
- Have moderate-to-severe hot flashes
- Have other symptoms of menopause, such as vaginal symptoms
- Have started menopause early (before your forties)
- Have estrogen deficiency
Hormone therapy may also be right for you if you want to prevent bone loss or fractures.
We’ve seen how effective hormone therapy can be, but we also know there is some potential risk, and we want you to know exactly what you’re getting into.
Some studies have linked hormone therapy to heart disease, stroke, blood clots, and breast cancer. Factors that increase your likelihood include age, health history, and the type of hormone therapy you take.
Though the risk of complications is small, we still take the time to ensure you understand the possible impact hormone therapy can have on your health.
If hormone therapy isn’t right for you or if you’re uncomfortable taking on the potential risk, don’t worry. We work closely with you to establish healthy habits that help you manage your symptoms.
For certain vaginal symptoms, you may benefit from vaginal moisturizers and lubricants that provide relief.
The bottom line
Hormone therapy is a great option for many struggling with menopause. We thoroughly review your health history and symptoms before recommending it, and we keep the conversation going throughout your treatment.
If you have more questions about hormone therapy for menopause, don’t hesitate to call our friendly staff at 573-785-0313 to request an appointment.