Menopause is a natural process that all women experience at some point in their lives. During this time, the body's production of hormones, such as estrogen, decreases significantly. This can lead to a variety of uncomfortable symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. To combat these symptoms, many women turn to hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
HRT is a medication that contains female hormones and is taken to replace the estrogen the body no longer produces. HRT can be an effective way to manage menopausal symptoms, but it is not without risks. While it can reduce the risk of bone fractures, it can also increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases (heart and blood vessel problems) and breast cancer. Combined HRT may be associated with a small increase in the risk of breast cancer.
When considering HRT, it is important to weigh the potential benefits against the risks. Talk to your doctor about how hormone therapy is working for you and if you have any new symptoms or side effects from hormones, especially vaginal bleeding. It is also important to reevaluate treatment frequently to reconsider the benefits and risks. Systemic therapy is one option for administering HRT.
With systemic therapy, hormones are released into the bloodstream and go to the organs and tissues that need them. Another option is topical therapy, which does not enter the bloodstream and is mainly prescribed to women who suffer from vaginal dryness. HRT can be an effective way to manage menopausal symptoms, but it is important to consider all of the risks before starting treatment. Talk to your doctor about your individual health risks and how they may affect your decision to use HRT.
As researchers learn more about hormone therapy and other treatments for menopause, recommendations may change.