Hormone replacement therapy has been a very popular solution to the trials and tribulations associated with menopause. It can relieve some of the lesser-desirable side-effects of menopause – such as hot flashes and irritability. It can help you maintain your libido and decrease vaginal dryness and/or urinary incontinence.
However, hormone replacement therapies are not all created equal. You and your doctor need to decide whether HRT is right for you.
Ask the Following Questions Before Moving Forward With Hormone Replacement Therapy
This is especially true in the case of bioidentical hormone therapies, compounded HRT and/or un-monitored traditional hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – none of which are one-size-fits-all. Never move forward with hormone replacement therapy unless you have given it considerable thought and are working with a healthcare provider who specializes in menopause care and HRT therapies.
Schedule a consultation here at Overlake OB/GYN to learn more about your HRT options. In the meantime, ask yourself the following questions:
- What’s your doctor’s approach to HRT? Healthcare providers each have their own unique talents, interests and specialties. While all OB/GYN’s are dedicated to women’s health, some center their care around pregnancy and birth while others focus more on the full reproductive spectrum. If you are considering hormone replacement therapy, and your current OB/GYN doesn’t specialize in menopause care, this might be a good time to shop around. That may be as simple as switching doctors in the same office or practice. You want a doctor who takes a cautious and holistic approach to HRT, someone who will take the time to check your hormone levels and adjust your treatment accordingly. You deserve a provider who puts your well-being first, tapering off HRT when you’re through menopause and the time is right.
- Do you really need it? We are quick to want immediate relief from discomfort or undesirable side-effects, and we’re bombarded with the idea of “perpetual youth” at every turn. However, the healthiest route is usually the most natural one – and that means letting your body make its way through the natural menopause process. While most women do experience some side effects of menopause, HRT (which has its own set of disadvantages) is only recommended for women who have more moderate to severe menopause symptoms.
- Do I understand the risks? Risks of HRT include breast cancer, uterine cancer (for women who have a uterus and only use estrogen-based HRT), osteoporosis (a risk for women who are post-menopausal but continue using HRT for its youthful/sexually-associated benefits), and stroke. These are much more serious than temporary hot flashes and occasional moodiness – so they are worth considering.
- What does my medical history say? There are certain women who should shy away from HRT altogether. Those include women with a history of breast cancer, heart disease or liver disease. It also includes women who have experienced blood clots, who are postmenopausal and those who don’t have menopause side effects.
- Do I have a plan? Women who feel they need HRT should create a plan with their doctor. First, since thyroid problems can have side-effects similar to those related to menopause, thyroid function should be tested, and you may want to consider testing FSH levels (a measure of ovarian function) before officially beginning HRT. The plan should include a phased approach to starting the therapy, using the lowest-dose of the recommended treatment first. This can be slowly increased if the dose isn’t doing its job. The plan should also include routine checkups to monitor your well-being. Finally, it should aim to cover a set period of time at which HRT doses can be reduced, restoring the body back to its natural, post-menopause hormone levels.
Schedule an appointment with Overlake OB/GYN and work with doctors who are as passionate about providing high-quality menopause care as we are delivering babies.