Shifts in the balance of your hormones can be very disruptive to your everyday life and your ongoing health. However, the reduction of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone is unavoidable as part of the natural aging process. At Premiere Center for Health and Wellness in Cincinnati, OH, our physicians know that hormone therapy can be a good option for those who are struggling with severe symptoms of menopause.
What Is the Right Age for Getting Menopause-Related Hormone Therapy?
In general, most women start hormone replacement therapy between the ages of 40 and 50. However, some women use hormone replacement therapy past the age of 60, particularly if they are dealing with severe symptoms or are at a higher risk of developing certain health conditions.
Another way to determine if now is the right time to start hormone therapy is to look at the timing of your last period. You are considered menopausal when you have not had a menstrual cycle for a full year. After this point, you’re still eligible to use hormone replacement therapy to manage your symptoms for 10 years.
Can You Use Hormone Therapy During Perimenopause?
Although you can certainly use hormone replacement therapy after you have been menopausal for a few months or longer, generally the optimal time to use hormone replacement therapy is during perimenopause. The eight to 10 years preceding the onset of “The Big Change” is typically when most women will experience disruptive symptoms due to hormonal shifts.
During this early stage, using hormone replacement therapy can ease symptoms. If you want to use hormone replacement therapy during these early stages, you need to discuss your treatment options with your physician.
How Do You Know You Need Hormone Therapy?
When you discuss hormone replacement therapy and other treatment options with your physician, there will be an emphasis placed on the symptoms you are experiencing. For the most part, a physician will generally only recommend hormone replacement therapy for those who have severe symptoms or who are at a higher risk of developing certain health conditions based on age and family history.
Blood Serum Tests
Before your physician recommends hormone replacement therapy, you will need to complete blood serum tests to assess your level of hormones. These blood tests will look at estrogen and progesterone levels to assess the severity of your hormone deficit. These blood tests are usually used to develop the correct dosage for your pellet therapy and to monitor how well you are responding to treatment.
Symptoms that are disruptive to your daily life are typically the biggest indicator that you may need to undergo hormone replacement therapy, at least temporarily. For example, if you are experiencing excessive weight gain or weight loss, insomnia, hot flashes, appetite changes, or other symptoms that interfere with your quality of life, you’re likely a good candidate for this treatment.
High Risk Factors
Finally, your relative risk factors for developing other health concerns can also influence whether or not you should use hormone replacement therapy. For example, menopausal women are at a higher risk of developing bone and heart disease. Women who experience the onset of perimenopause early are at severe risk for developing health conditions such as osteoporosis and coronary heart disease.
Early interventions with hormone replacement therapy can reduce your risk of developing long-term health conditions in the future. This is because estrogen in particular is essential for the health of arteries, blood pressure, and bone density. By minimizing the decline of estrogen earlier, your body can stay healthy.
Most Common Symptoms of “The Big Change”
When you’re discussing disruptive symptoms with your physician, it’s important to list all the symptoms you have been experiencing, the severity of these symptoms, and how long you have noticed these symptoms. There are several common symptoms:
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
- Urinary incontinence
- Urinary urgency
- Dry skin
- Dry eyes
- Dry mouth
- Breast tenderness
- Irregular periods
- Weight gain
- Hair loss and hair thinning
- Low libido
- Mood swings
Not all women will experience the same severity in symptoms or even the same collection of symptoms. Your lifestyle habits, your genetics, and the degree of your hormonal change may influence the severity of your symptoms.
How Long Do Hot Flashes Last?
Of all the symptoms you may experience due to “The Big Change,” hot flashes tend to be the most commonly cited and the most disruptive. Hot flashes are defined as sudden, urgent feelings of warmth throughout the body, which may cause sweating or lightheadedness. Hot flashes can last for several minutes and can happen multiple times a day, particularly at night.
Many women are dismayed to learn that hot flashes can last for 14 years after menopause, which can make it difficult to sleep or get through the day comfortably. Using hormone replacement therapy may minimize hot flashes.
How Do Bioequivalent Hormones Work?
Bioidentical hormones or bioequivalent hormones work by replacing the hormones that your body no longer produces. For women, bioequivalent hormones replace estrogen, progesterone, and sometimes testosterone. These hormones are identical to the hormones that are naturally produced by your body, which makes it easier for your body to assimilate these hormones and use them to balance bodily functions to reduce symptoms.
Which Hormones Are Best?
Ultimately, the hormones that are best for you will depend on the degree of your hormone depletion. Generally, most women benefit from using estrogen-focused hormone replacement therapy. However, a combination of estrogen and progesterone may be more compatible for women who are in the early stages of “The Big Change.”
Your physician will examine the level of hormones in your blood to pinpoint the precise combination and dosage of hormones that is most appropriate for your bioequivalent hormone replacement therapy. Your physician will also recommend how long you should use hormone therapy to ease symptoms and reduce your risk of developing serious health conditions in the future.
How Should You Prepare for Treatment?
When you’re using bioequivalent hormones, your hormones will usually be delivered through pellet therapy. Pellet therapy is superior to other channels for hormone replacement therapy, including oral and topical medications. This is because pellet therapy releases hormones consistently over several weeks, which allows your body to use the hormones more effectively.
To prepare for your treatment, all you need to do is wear loose clothing to your appointment. During your treatment, a sterile cannula needle will be used to insert the pellet into your lower hip or upper buttocks. Your treatment site will be dressed with a bandage. Overall, your treatment will take less than 30 minutes.
Will You Have Aftercare Guidelines?
You will not have many aftercare guidelines after your treatment. You may want to avoid vigorous exercise, excessive sweating, or using hot water on your treatment site for several days. You may want to avoid laying or sitting on the treatment area to reduce tenderness. You may have instructions to use a cool compress, as well.
How Fast Are Your Results?
Usually, you will notice the results of your treatment in only a few weeks. Your earliest results will usually include a reduction in hot flashes, mood swings, and appetite changes. As your body uses the hormones in the pellet therapy, other symptoms will be reduced and you will find an improved quality of life.
How Long Will Results Last?
Pellet therapy can last for about three to four months for most women. Your body absorbs the hormones in the pellets gradually over several weeks. However, your activity level and your general metabolism may influence how long the results last. For example, very active women may only experience results for three months at a time.
How Else Can You Manage Your Symptoms?
Although your hormone replacement therapy will do most of the heavy lifting to reduce disruptive symptoms, there are other ways you can manage your symptoms. For example, adopting healthier lifestyle practices like drinking more water, having a balanced diet, and regular exercise may help with symptoms related to mood, concentration, and sleep.
Ease Your Way Through “The Big Change”
Menopause is inevitable, but you can make your journey through perimenopause more graceful when you use hormone therapy. This treatment is ideal for most women, including women in their late 30s and 40s. To learn more about hormone health for women and men, get in touch with Premiere Center for Health and Wellness in Cincinnati, OH today.