Menopause: Not a word that every woman is ready to hear. But sometimes you have to face the facts. A woman is considered to have entered into menopause after going for one year without a period (that’s not otherwise due to pregnancy, illness, breast-feeding, or medications, of course).
However, the effects and symptoms of menopause can pop up a lot sooner. Hot flashes, decreased sex drive, vaginal dryness, headaches, and night sweats are all par for the course during menopause, and that transition can be downright uncomfortable.
There are methods and ways to treat the symptoms of menopause, one of the most common being hormone replacement therapy, or HRT. The effects of menopause happen because as women age, they start producing less of the estrogen and progesterone hormones. As the name suggests, hormone replacement therapy gives you the extra doses of those hormones you need to get you feeling a little more balanced again.
Every woman is different, which means that hormone replacement treatments and options will vary from person to person. In fact, there are more than 50 varieties of HRT available in hormone replacement clinics, so you’ll want to consult with a doctor to determine which is right for you based on your current symptoms and your lifestyle.
Some HRTs are administered as simple oral pills that you take once a day. Others work through transdermal patches or gels that go on top of your skin. They can also be injected as an implant beneath the skin, where gradual flows of estrogen are released throughout the body.
If these sound kind of like birth control options, that’s because they are in fact very similar. Like pills and other contraceptives, a cyclical hormone replacement therapy mimics a normal menstrual cycle by supplying estrogen every day and progestogen (manufactured progesterone) for 12 to 14 days.
While many women report relief from menopausal symptoms through HRT, there are some potential risks and side effects. Talk with your doctor about any other prescriptions or supplements you may be taking, any history of smoking or cancer, and other factors about your health and diet before jumping into HRT.