More about the menopause
What is the Menopause?
Menopause is a natural biological process that every woman goes through as they age. However, the transition can be challenging, with symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, and vaginal dryness. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is a treatment that can help alleviate these symptoms and make the transition smoother for menopausal women. In this blog post, we will discuss the benefits and usage of HRT for menopausal women.
Menopause is technically defined as being one year after the last menstrual period, but for many women we don’t know when our last period, is the last period. The average age of the menopause is 51 in the UK but this can vary considerably from person to person.
The time leading up to the menopause is called perimenopause. The symptoms associated with the perimenopause can start many years before the menopause and widely fluctuating hormone levels can cause distressing symptoms.
What is Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)?
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is a treatment that replaces the hormones that are no longer produced by the ovaries during menopause. Oestrogen and progesterone are the two main hormones that are replaced in HRT. It is oestrogen deficiency that causes many of the symptoms associated with perimenopause and after the menopause, and so this is an important hormone to get right. Progesterone balances out the oestrogen by preventing the uterus wall becoming too thick – something called uterine hyperplasia. If a woman no longer has her uterus due to a hysterectomy, then progesterone is not required.
HRT is available in various forms, including patches, gels, sprays, and tablets. At REMEDI HEALTH, we usually prescribe transdermal (i.e., through the skin) oestrogen as we know this is the safest way to replace this hormone. The hormones we prescribe are body-identical which means they are chemically the same as the hormones we produce in our bodies.
Tell me more about Testosterone.
Testosterone can be useful in menopause management for some women. Testosterone is a hormone that is important for maintaining bone health, muscle mass, and sexual function. During menopause, women experience a decline in testosterone levels, which can contribute to symptoms such as low libido, fatigue, and loss of muscle mass.
Research has shown that testosterone replacement therapy can help alleviate these symptoms and improve overall quality of life for some women. When prescribing testosterone, we ensure your oestrogen levels have first been optimised and do a baseline blood measurement before initiating treatment. Further blood tests are done to check that you are keeping within the female range at 3 months and then annually.
What are the benefits of HRT?
- Relieves Hot Flushes and Night Sweats
Hot flashes and night sweats are the most common symptoms of menopause, affecting about 70% of women, and they can be debilitating. HRT can help alleviate these symptoms and improve the quality of life for menopausal women. This is usually one of the first symptoms to go when using HRT and is a good indicator that the dose of oestrogen is the right one, and it is being absorbed through the skin.
- Improves Mood
The time before and after menopause can cause mood swings, anxiety, loss of worth, brain fog, memory problems and depression in women. HRT can help improve mood and reduce the risk of depression. Many women report a significant difference when starting HRT and feel more like themselves.
- Prevents vaginal dryness and urinary symptoms.
There are oestrogen receptors in the vaginal wall, vulva tissues, urethra, and bladder with over 70% of post-menopausal women having problems with discomfort, pain, urinary leaking, urinary tract infections, sensitivity and/or other issues. HRT with or without local vaginal oestrogens as can help prevent vaginal dryness and improve urinary symptoms.
- Reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a condition that causes the bones to become weak and brittle, making them more prone to fractures. Menopausal women are at an increased risk of osteoporosis due to the decrease in oestrogen levels. HRT can help prevent osteoporosis and reduce the risk of fractures.
- Reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Menopausal women are at an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes due to the decrease in oestrogen levels. HRT can help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by improving cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of blood clots, provided prescribed through the skin (patch, gel or spray).
What are the risks of HRT?
Modern oestrogen delivered through the skin as a gel, patch. or spray, can be prescribed safely for many women and does not increase the risk of blood clots. Evidence is mixed around the risk of breast cancer however recent evidence suggest that there is little or no increased risk; we are simply replacing the oestrogen your body once made. Putting the risk into context, the breast cancer risk is much higher by being overweight or obese. We always explore the potential risks with our clients so that an informed choice can be made.
Usage of HRT
HRT can be used from an early stage in the perimenopause. During an initial consultation we listen and understand the impact of symptoms, take a comprehensive health history, and support our clients to choose the most appropriate option. We discuss benefits and risks of HRT, how living a healthy lifestyle can support wellbeing and the impact of HRT on long term health. We now know that women who take HRT live longer than those who do not.
The duration and type of HRT depend on the individual’s symptoms, medical history, and overall health. Women who have had breast cancer may not be suitable candidates for HRT but other options can be discussed.
How long can I take HRT for?
Women can choose to take HRT for as long as they are receiving benefit and for many women this may be for life. There are no time restrictions for taking HRT and it can continue to help women post menopause. Vaginal oestrogens are a forever treatment for women who need them as symptoms can return once treatment is stopped.
REMEDI HEALTH is a private health care provider that employs experienced and specialist practitioners in a well-equipped modern clinic to give you the best advice on everything about your menopause issues including symptoms and treatments. As a pharmacy we can perform blood tests if required, prescribe, and dispense medicines – everything in one place.
We take time to listen to you and together come up with the best solution tailored to your individual needs. We provide all tests and drugs required to help you optimise your treatment and minimise your menopausal symptoms, including testosterone.
If you’re struggling with menopause symptoms and are looking for expert advice and treatment, look no further than REMEDI HEALTH!