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Hormone Treatments – Ticket to Youth or Path to Danger?

Although our society often jokes about the symptoms of the so-called "change of life," menopause can be a difficult, stressful and uncomfortable time period for women. Hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings and changes in sleeping patterns can all develop during menopause. Often times, these symptoms are mild and do not interfere with daily life, but when these symptoms are severe, it can be difficult for women to enjoy sexual activity, concentrate at work and get along well with friends and family. In these instances, using hormone treatments can help to alleviate symptoms of menopause; however, these treatments are not for everyone. Read on to learn more about hormone replacement therapy.

What Are Hormone Treatments?

During menopause, estrogen levels in your body dramatically decrease, resulting in a number of unpleasant symptoms. Hormone treatments supplement the amount of estrogen and progestin in your body to help re-balance levels of these important natural chemicals. Traditionally, hormone treatments were only taken orally, but today, there are also vaginal creams and rings that are used for hormone replacement therapy. These are often preferred for treating symptoms of vaginal dryness due to menopause.

Benefits of Hormone Treatments


In addition to reducing menopausal symptoms, hormone treatments can provide other benefits for the body. Studies have found that estrogen replacement can help prevent bone loss, reducing the risk for developing osteoporosis. The treatments can also prevent irritation of the urinary tract, lowering the risk of urinary tract infections. The beneficial effects of hormone treatments can also help to treat urinary urgency and frequency in some women.

Risks of Hormone Treatments


The downside to hormone replacement therapy is that estrogen supplementation raises your risk for some serious health problems. This is particularly true of oral hormone treatments. In clinical trials, hormone therapy has been shown to increase incidences of heart attack, stroke and blood clots in some women. There is also an elevated risk for estrogen-related cancers, including breast cancer.

Weighing the Risks

When doctors determine whether or not to prescribe hormone treatments for patients, they look at a variety of factors, including the severity of menopausal symptoms and a woman's risk for osteoporosis. Doctors also consider a woman's age at menopause, tending to prefer to prescribe hormone therapy for those who experience the transition earlier in life. A patient's individual and medical histories are also taken into consideration before recommending hormone treatments. Those with a high risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease or breast cancer are often not given hormone replacement therapy.

Ultimately, your doctor is the best (and only) person to advise you about whether or not hormone treatments are right for you. Talk to him or her about your symptoms and the benefits and/or drawbacks of hormone replacement therapy for your individual body. Together, you can find the best treatment to help you transition through menopause more comfortably.

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